Welcome to Prayer Station Number Four
Read: Matthew 27 38-56
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[f] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Sit a while, and think on this scene. Just let the images speak to you of Jesus.
Stay in the silence. What is God saying?
Why did Jesus say ‘it is finished’?
What did he mean?
And why did he say it on the Cross and not as he burst out of the tomb?
How does the curtain ripping speak to you?
These are a few sentences taken from Tom Wright’s really helpful book: ‘The Crown and the Fire’
Consider what happens normally in the world. When we are cursed, we curse back, if only in our hearts. When we are hated, we pass the hate on; we keep it, so to speak, in circulation……..
But the divine way is different. Jesus takes temptation, hatred, curses - the bitterness of a bitter world – and he absorbs it into himself on the cross. Jesus, pronounced guilty as a blasphemer for claiming to be the Son of God, demonstrates on the cross that he was speaking the truth, by doing what only the Son of god could do – loving his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end, the bitter end. And this pattern, acted out uniquely on the cross, becomes then for us, by the Spirit of Jesus, working within us, the pattern we are commanded to live out, as we give back good for evil, blessing for curse, prayer for persecution. One might say that this is the vocation of the Church: to take the sadness of the world and give back no anger; the sorrow of the world, and give back no bitterness; the pain of the world, and not sink into self-pity; but to return forgiveness and love, blessing and joy. That is what Jesus was doing on Calvary. He drew on to himself the sin of the ages, the rebellion of the world and humankind, the hatred, pain, anger and frustration of the world, so that the world and humankind might be healed, might be rid of it all.
Pause a while and think on that
How would you describe your sense of calling? What has God called you to come and do?
Why not write it down, and share it with someone? (You may find that they can see your calling more clearly than you.)
End this session with the song below
A later chapter…
When God calls a person, he bids them come and burn – burn with a new love, a new desire, that will take all the mixed and muddled desires and ambitions and burn till it has refined all that was God-given in them and purged out all that was going in the other direction……
….God’s call is not designed to make us supermen and superwomen, because that’s not what the world needs; it needs men and women who are humble enough, and often that means humbled enough, to work from within, from below, not to impose a solution on the world from a great height but to live within the world as it is, allowing the ambiguities and the perplexities of their own sense or absence of vocation to be nevertheless the place where they listen for the voice of God, and struggle to obey as best they can…..
…..And we don’t have to feel guilty if we aren’t supermen or superwomen; we should feel guilty if we thought we were.