Key Verse: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1
Every year our church has an actual sunrise service at a beautiful private school campus in our town. On a good morning, you can see for miles and the Great Smoky Mountains are perfectly silhouetted on the horizon. A couple of weeks before the service takes place, I go to the US Navy website to get the actual time of sunrise, so that I can let our people know when to gather at the school’s flagpole.
When I looked at the time this year, I got a terrible shock: Easter sunrise is at 6:10AM. I thought that this was a bit early, but the US Navy has never steered me wrong, so I accepted the time and let everyone know when to gather at the school. I pictured us all arriving with tired unwashed faces, unkempt hair, and yawning all the way through the singing, prayers, and gospel readings.
Fortunately, our church choir director re-checked the timetable and noticed the footnote at the bottom: Add one hour for daylight time, if and when in use.
The actual time of Easter sunrise is 7:10AM! As Bugs Bunny would say: what a maroon!
Because I didn’t read the footnote, I got the time wrong. Coincidentally, the same thing happens with Psalm 22. When we read those first words being spoken by Jesus from the Cross, we think that God has abandoned Him and that Jesus is painfully separated from God. To be forsaken by a parent is a great emotional loss to anyone, and so we interpret Christ’s use of this scripture as a way of expressing His complete despair and sadness of being isolated from God.
But we haven’t read the footnote, which comes in the last verse of this psalm: ‘They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn-- for He has done it.’ – Psalm 22:31
Jesus is not bewailing the fact that He has been abandoned by God; He is actually singing a song of salvation where God delivers His people for all time! It’s not about being forsaken and isolated; the Cross is about being saved and restored to God.
Question for personal reflection
How has Christ’s death become a blessing for me?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You won the battle of good versus evil, life versus death, and sin versus obedience when You died on the Cross. You sacrificed Yourself for us; You obeyed God perfectly and completely. You knew that His plan of salvation for humanity succeeded. We will be eternally grateful to You for this Supreme Sacrifice which eternally restores us to God. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving our souls and bringing us back into God’s gracious Kingdom. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. if you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is John’s latest Good Friday drawing of Christ being crucified. It’s called “Outside a City Wall.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7100/7027482543_2af1a2c5f8_b.jpg