the sunday of the passion
the PRAYER. . .
Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and to suffer death on the cross. In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
the READING. . .
Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
the DEVOTION. . .
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” He “yielded up the ghost.” That’s how King James puts it. It’s where the phrase “give up the ghost” comes from. Jesus dies. He expires. He breathes his last. To a cynic, it means Jesus’ story has come to an end. All’s well that ends well. To the believer, though, this is the moment it all began!
You see, the words Matthew uses can, also, be translated … ‘hands over the spirit.’ Jesus ‘passes on the breath.’ For Matthew, Jesus’ death isn’t something supernatural or paranormal, something ghostly. It’s passing on to us, passing on to the world, what he, first, received! And it happens here on Golgotha, the moment Jesus dies! It’s there in that last gasp, that final breath – in that ghost as King James calls it. It’s the spirit, Jesus hands over! The spirit, the breath, he was given in the Jordan! And because of that gift, the curtain tears! The earth shakes! The rocks split! The tombs open! The dead rise! Gentiles believe! All because of the spirit Jesus gives there on the cross, there at the end! Jesus’ last breath becomes creation’s first! And just like in Eden, God, one more time, breathes into creation the breath of life! Golgotha becomes Eden! Paradise is born! Paradise is born, again!
Bob Barndt, pastor