Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23:44-49)

 

The mystery at the heart of Christianity is that God died. We often think of the phrase “God is dead” as something of an atheistic motto, cribbed from the pages of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It isn’t. Nietzsche actually got it from Hegel, and Hegel got it from a hymn: O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid! An English version reads: “O darkest woe! Ye tears, forth flow! Has earth so sad a wonder? God the Father’s only Son now is buried yonder! O sorrow dread! Our God is dead!” Just so. From the beginning of our exploration of our Lord’s passion until now, we have been contemplating the mysterious way in which God, in Christ, takes on the worst that life can offer in order to make all of it God’s own. Jesus redeems us from temptation by being tempted; from betrayal by being betrayed; from suffering by undergoing suffering; from death by dying. On that first Good Friday, God made death God’s own. Death would never be the same again.

 

Let us pray: O Lord, you relieve our necessity out of the abundance of your great riches: Grant that we may accept with joy the salvation you bestow, and manifest it to all the world by the quality of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Go: Do you know someone who has suffered a great deal, and yet has kept their faith? Reach out to them today. If appropriate, ask them if they’d mind sharing with you how they’ve persevered in trusting God. Regardless, let them know that you love them. In prayer, ask our Lord Jesus to join their suffering to his, that God may know and redeem it.

A Journey Through the Passion is a daily meditation for Lent curated by Fr. Justin Crisp, our Associate Rector and Theologian-in-Residence. Meditations follow the schedule of readings for our 2019 Maranatha House Churches, feature prayers for the season of Lent according to the Book of Common Prayer and Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and are patterned on the seven practices of The Way of Love, a rule of life for the Episcopal Church.