The One Who Walks with You

This is how Jesus died: “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in aloud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 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. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”(Matthew 27:46-50). Matthew proceeds to tell us that a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, was allowed to take the body of Jesus and give him proper burial. It was Friday night. Then God, as He did in creation, rested.

Thousands of pages could be written in an attempt to make sense of everything that happened that Friday in Golgotha. Many more could be written about the Son of God, through whom “all things were made” (John 1:3), lying dead on a tomb on Saturday. Two questions concern me today: what killed Jesus, and what does it mean for me to see lying down, lifeless, in a tomb?

To our first question: if we backtrack a few hours, we hear Jesus telling his closest friends: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). Knowing that the cross is around the corner, Jesus is crushed, anguished, sorrowful. So much so, that even before the physical torture begins, Jesus is already dying. Not from physical wounds, but mental/emotional ones. Prophesying his mission, the prophet Daniel describes the Messiah as one would be “cut off” (Daniel9:26) from this intimate fellowship with the Father. It is no surprise that when He is hanging from the cross, Jesus exclaims: “Father, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). While carrying our pain and heartbreak, our selfishness and evil, Jesus endured their result: a hopeless separation from the Father. Jesus went through the natural consequence of our sin so we wouldn’t have to. He experienced being forever separated from the Father so we wouldn’t be. He died our second death, the natural result of freely choosing to walk away from the Father, to gift us his eternal life, the natural result of freely choosing to live in growing intimacy with the Father. What killed Jesus, dare I say, was not the physical torture, but the thought of being forever separated from Him who was with Him from the beginning. Ellen White gives us a window into Christ’s suffering at the cross when she writes: “The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror.” (The Desire of Ages).

Now, what about a dead Jesus? What does He mean to me? Andy Gullahorn holds no punches and pulls on all heartstrings when he sings:

He said "You're never gonna lose my love. Go ahead and try."

So you drank from the river Until it all ran dry

And you run from your conscience As fast as you can

'Cause you're going to Hell Again and again

But oh, even then

There is hope

There is grace

Even Hell is not a God-forsaken place

In the push ofa needle In the drive of a drunk

In the hand ona trigger of a smoking gun

In the cell ofa prison In the death of a child

In the arms and the bed of another's wife

Oh, even then

There is hope

There is grace

Even Hell is not a God-forsaken place

It was sad and quiet On that Saturday

He had somewhere to visit Before the stone rolled away

Yeah, He went straight to Hell Where He knew He would go

So in the worst of our darkness We are never alone


If Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us”, then the cross and the tomb shows us how far He is willing to go to be with us. He felt forgotten by God so we wouldn’t feel alone. He died so we would know that even a hopeless death is nota God forsaken place. He is with me, and with you, always. There is no path that He will not walk on with you.

Thankfully, the cross did not stand forever and Jesus did not stay in the tomb. Sunday came, and Christ resurrected, victorious over death itself. But He did not leave the tomb alone. He took you and I with Him. He was with us in our darkness all the way to the tomb so that we could be with Him all the way into Eternity, and beyond. Friends, this is the good news of the Gospel. This is what we celebrate during Easter, and any other month of the year. God is love. God is powerful. God gives Himself to us so that we may never be alone and may never be hopeless. God has died, God has risen, God will come again.

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