Prepare to Listen. Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 27:45-56
45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ 48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’ 50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’ 55Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
The only ones to hear Jesus’ cry of lament and witness his death were bystanders, Roman soldiers and women disciples. They heard, but not really. Some thought he was calling for Elijah and waited to see if he’d come. They failed to recognize the lament from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Would they have mocked again if they had really heard? God, they presumed, had forsaken Jesus, and couldn’t deliver him. Jesus breathed his last.
What no one knew, except Jesus was that his death was “the point towards which the gospel has been moving all along,” as N. T. Wright notes. He was forsaken on the cross, not because God had rejected him, or didn’t want to deliver him, but because his whole life was about this moment, when the weight of sin and evil of all creation converged on him, blocking the love of his Father as surely as the sunlight was blocked that afternoon. But even in this, he remained obedient, trusting the Father to bring him through to the other side, to a new and changed world for us all.
With one last agonizing cry, one Matthew fails to give the words, but which John says was, “It is finished,” he died (Jn 19:30). In omitting the words, Matthew highlights the agony of the moment in a dramatic way. One last loud cry “and he breathed his last,” followed by one long silence.
Take a few minutes to be still and silent before the cross.
Respond in Prayer
Live Obediently. Take time for silence today.
 Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone Part 2. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004, p. 191.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.