Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 23: 44-49 (MsgB)
By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours— a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place My life in Your hands!” Then He breathed His last. When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!” All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.
While our calendars are all set to measure the number of years since Jesus’ birth, I actually think it might be more accurate for us to set our calendars, watches, and personal lives so that they revolve around this unique moment in history we find here in today’s passage.
It’s Friday. Noon. 33 AD.
The location is a hill just outside the holy Middle-Eastern city of Jerusalem.
At this very moment, at this very specific dot in the broad universe of God, all of creation stops breathing.
One unique human heart stops beating and the whole world quakes in response.
If we could step back just a moment from the gruesome cross scene we’ve all pictured in our minds, we might just be able to see the other activity going on at this very moment as we scan the universe.
In hell, a shout of celebration goes up. A hearty, victorious ‘yes’ echoes in the chambers of Hades. Satan and his horde of demons are high-fiving each other. The job they had set out to accomplish has just found fruition and fulfillment. Forgive the comparisons, but the best earthly way I can explain this horrific moment in time as being celebratory would be to imagine ourselves in the room where Bin Laden and his friends are gathered on 9/11. When the news of Jesus’ death is finally reported in the pits of hell, it is ‘mission accomplished’, pour the champagne, tonight we party!
In heaven, there is no celebration. Author Max Lucado best describes this moment as a dramatic collective gasp coming from the legions of angels surrounding God’s throne. From their perspective, Lucifer has done it once again. No one, except God in heaven, sees this noontime event as anything but a massive disaster. Again, pardon the lesser comparisons, but it’s the Lincoln, Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations all rolled into one. It’s the impressive Hindenburg airship exploding over the New Jersey landscape. It’s the Space Shuttle blowing up over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Titanic and 9/11 all in one millisecond of time.
Noon. Passover Friday. 33 AD.
Jesus gives His earthly life back to God and takes His final human breath.
The lights go out. The earth shakes. The mountains tremble. The oceans swell. The curtain comes down, literally, on the magnificent redemption plan set up by God. A plan set up long before the creation of the world has just crashed and burned.
One human heart has just stopped. The heart of the universe just skipped a beat.
It not only skipped a beat. The universe actually comes to a complete grinding stop. For what must have seemed like an eternity to the angels in heaven, no one speaks. No one prays. No one worships. No one does anything but stand there and watch.
God sits on His throne. He says not a word. A tear wells up in His right eye. Then two. Then a stream of tears begins flowing from both eyes.
Then suddenly, with tears streaming down His cheeks, God stands up. The angels fear what might happen next.
But wait. What’s this?
God, with tears now flowing onto His long white robe, looks up and begins to smile. He turns to His angelic hosts and invites them to come closer to His throne. It appears that God is about to do and say something He’s never done or said before. He’s about to show a side of Himself that has never been revealed in the annals of Kingdom time.
As C.S. Lewis states in his Chronicles of Narnia, God is about to reveal a deeper magic. A deeper Kingdom truth. A more powerful truth than anyone on earth, under the earth, or over the earth has ever known to exist. More on this later, but for now, see why I suggest that we humans set our calendars to run off this date of 33 AD, Noon. Jerusalem time?
As I see it, this unique moment in God’s Kingdom economy is the actual center of the entire universe. In truth, all time, space and life have their meaning and purpose based on what happens this one dark moment we now call noon on Good Friday.
My prayer: Jesus, it’s this moment Your life was prepared for from the beginning of time. It’s only because of Your complete willingness to release control over Your life, giving it completely back to God, that You were able to live and die in this unique moment of time. Words will never be adequate in telling You our appreciation down here for what You did in that one millisecond of time. From the bottom of our once stone-cold hearts, thank You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I lost the deep mystery and amazement of what actually occurred at noon, Good Friday, 33 AD outside Jerusalem? In truth, everything changed throughout the universe at this unique moment. How can I bring the power of that moment into better application and appreciation in my day-to-day life? How can my celebration of this moment change the way I live today?
On this Good Friday, I encourage you to join those of us who have been journeying through Lent using Luke’s gospel text as our guide. Join us this Holy Weekend by following our daily blog, we call Our Lenten Journey. Click here for our guide that goes through Monday.
Click here to read about one of the most powerful hymns ever written around the theme of Good Friday.