34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
This whole chapter is one tragedy after another. Pilate sells out to the crowd, and a murderer named Barabbas goes free. The chief priests (once again!) show their true colors and incite the crowds to clamor for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. The soldiers were doing their job in flogging Jesus, but they go beyond their duty in mocking him. A foreign man, from Cyrene, was compelled by the soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross. People shouted insults at Jesus as he hung on the cross, along with one who was crucified with him.
After three hours of unimaginable agony, Jesus cried out to God. Some bystanders thought Jesus was calling Elijah, so after offering Jesus some wine vinegar, they stepped back to watch the “show” in case Elijah came to take Jesus away. But instead Jesus died, alone and without divine intervention.
The only person to worship Jesus was a foreigner, a Roman centurion. He was there to keep order; he was a witness to the crucifixion. He alone expressed faith in Jesus as the Son of God. If you or I had been there that day, would we have had the courage to express our faith in Jesus?
It is so difficult, Lord, to imagine all that Jesus endured that day of his crucifixion. Not only did he face physical pain, excruciating pain, in fact, but he also had to endure taunts and abandonment from his closest friends, all who had known him throughout his ministry. He truly was alone, carrying the sins of the world. And he did it for you and me. Amen.