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This is the sixth devotion in a series on the Passion of Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew.
Please read Matthew Chapter 27:44--54 in your Bibles.
In the middle of the day the land is covered in darkness. A few people gather around a dying man. They are mocking him. They are poking each other in the ribs and laughing at him as he cries out in despair. He dies. The curtain of the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shakes and rocks are split. Tombs are opened and people are raised from the dead. The gathered few are terrified and a grizzled old soldier believes in Jesus. What a weird way to go. These strange events seem to just dazzle, and have no real substance. But in death as in life Jesus of Nazareth continues to proclaim Godís reign.
The story began with a star that appeared suddenly. The star announced the birth of a promised king. The cosmos recognized the event of God casting Godís lot with us Ė to be one of us. Now in the darkness, in the blotting out of the sun, the cosmos once again announces what God with us means. It is light for us, but a period of darkness for God as Godís only Son whom he loves dies. The darkness is a blinding accusation of our condition, but the light of that star will not be overcome. Godís light will out shine the darkness of those three hours.
Throughout his life Jesus taught. These teachings were new and radical to the ears of his listeners. There were those who mocked him and laughed at him for his words. There were those that felt threatened because their way of ďdoing religionĒ was being challenged. At the death of Godís Son the curtain in the Temple that separated God from us was torn in two. We no longer need to depend on someone else to approach God on our behalf, because Godís Son made the ultimate sacrifice for our sakes. God is with us no matter what. God holds us tightly and will never let us go. Godís arms are opened wide for everyone to be gathered into that embrace.
Even as the cosmos is affected by Christís death so too nature responds. The earth shakes and rocks are split. The one through whom all things were created dies and the creation shudders. God in Christ healed blindness, lameness, and disease. God in Christ stilled the storm and sent the demons into the herd of pigs. Thousands upon thousands people were fed with only enough food for a couple. Life was wrestled out of death and a girl was restored to her family. When God in Christ dies the tombs are opened because creation and life will never be the same.
Some see this and fear the monumental change. Others see that life will indeed never be the same and they believe. During Jesus life some hear the call, ďFollow me,Ē and they obey. Others hear the teaching or see the miracles and they believe. In Jesusí death some see and are terrified, but a lone soldier sees and believes. All of Jesusí life was given to this one thing Ė creating faith so that people might believe. Even at the death of Jesus, some come to believe in a God who loves us and in a God who will not leave us.
If it had not been for the resurrection, perhaps none of us would have been given the great gift of faith. Jesus Christ did die and in his death all of who he was was brought to light. It is in Jesus Christís life now and forever, however, that God in Christ becomes available to us. Creation, faith, life, and you will never be the same because of Christís death on the cross and the proclamation of that love into the future through the resurrection.
May your faith be strengthened as Jesusí life, death, and resurrection proclaims to you Godís gentle reign of peace and love. Pray for that strength.