COLLECT OF THE DAY
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. - Book of Common Prayer, p. 221
What must Jesus have felt during His last few days? He knew what was coming: betrayal, imprisonment, humiliation, death. He would be brutalized at the hands of sinners. Did He dread it? Was He afraid? Often it seems anticipation of a coming ordeal is worse than the reality of it. Was it so with Him?
The Gospels describe the final days and hours. The betrayal and arrest, the mocking and spitting, the heavy cross, the thorn of crowns – then the crucifixion itself. This was true torture, by design, evil and gratuitous. It took six hours for death to come, as Jesus’ body slowly elongated, became disjointed – as He labored to breathe with the weight of His body crushing His lungs. The nails through His hands and feet were pulling and tearing at Him. Suffering - for us.
That He chose to die for us in this way underscores the depth of His love and commitment to us. He is showing us through His life and death how we are to be in ours. How totally humbling it is to be so loved.
From Paul to the Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
On this holy day let us be thankful. On this day that Christ suffered death and was buried, let us bear our sufferings as Christ Himself taught us. And let us have no doubts today of His abiding and restorative love.