What a myriad of emotions that must’ve imploded within that holy mind of our Savior on the day of His appointment with a cross on a hill called Calvary! How ironic is it that we, in Christendom, call it Good Friday. When you read in isolation the details of our Lord’s death on the cross, nothing ostensibly seems to be good. He’s in agony, naked, subjected to ridicule, abandoned by his followers, and worst of all, cut off from His Father. It must have been painful to the ears of those who stood around, whether friend, loved one, or foe; as they heard His doleful cry riveting with an emotion no other human being ever had or will ever know, with words of an incomprehensible agony bellowing forth from His mouth. Matthew records the moment of that cry with painstaking vividness: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46 AV).
Had the sequence of events on Good Friday stopped with the scene that records the words of that horrific cry of abandonment on the part of our Master, all readers of the Gospel records would’ve been left with a story of ironic incompleteness. If Good Friday had ended as described in the previous sentence, the unveiling of ultimate victory on Easter Sunday would’ve left a twinge of an arcane fuzziness in back of the minds of all would-be celebrants. Etched in their thoughts would’ve been the words of abandonment expressed by Christ as He hung on the cross. Isn’t it good to know that the words of Christ evolved? It is Dr. Luke who informs us of the words of finality from the mouth of our sweet Jesus that transform a bad day into a Good Friday by sharing a final scene of what happened on Calvary. Luke writes this: And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said,” Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (Luke 23:46 AV). I love the way the nuance of the text is more readily seen in the translation of the Common English Bible where it is rendered as follows: Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time (Luke 23:46 CEB). Jesus pressed beyond His human sense of abandonment to yet entrust His life to the Father. It is in the blessed knowledge of this fact that Easter can fully be celebrated. The resurrection of Jesus Christ emerged out of His unwavering trust of the Father. It was a trust that was so deep, He trusted the Father with His very life to do as He pleased.
I say to each of us, on this Good Friday 2020, amid this nightmarish coronavirus debacle, it will be our unfaltering trust in the God of our salvation that will see us through to victory. May we too trust God with our very lives. The power of the resurrection yet worketh!
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.