Moment in the Word
Wed, 03/31/2021 - 2:50pm admin
By Edwin Woolsey
Matthew 27:45-46, 50-51, 54: Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 50And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent. 54Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake, and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. (Douay-Rheims Bible)
"Indeed this was the Son of God," of whom St. John wrote, "All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men." John 1:3-4 (Douay-Rheims Bible) However, on that terrible Black Friday, the Light that constantly shined since Genesis 1:3 suddenly went out, and those who witnessed the moment knew the event was unlike anything they had ever seen!
Accusers, judges, executioners, curious bystanders, sympathetic family and friends all displayed the same reaction regardless of their original motive for standing at the foot of the Cross, "And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts." Luke 23:48 (Douay-Rheims Bible) Although the Son of God was and is forever eternal, yet for the first time in this current reality the Creator died to His Creation, or by slaying the Only Begotten, the Creation died to Him.
What a terribly profound moment occurred two thousand years ago when the sun stopped shining and the planet began tearing itself apart! This is what St. Paul meant when he wrote, "For the creature (Greek, ktisis - creation) was made subject to vanity (Greek, mataiotēs - depravity), not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope." Romans 8:20 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
Can you imagine the entire Cosmos unwillingly watching a group of frail animals, on a tiny planet that circled an insignificant star in one of an infinite number of galaxies, kill the Creator? What an absolutely unimaginable criminal act to happen... except for the promise of hope!
But what hope can come from the creature being allowed to kill the Creator?
Quoting the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, 19To preach deliverance to the captives," and then again He said, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, 25Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. " John 12:24-25 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
Although the witnesses of Black Friday did not know, yet the crucified Son of God had places to go, things to do, people to see, and the only way He could get there was through the Gates of Death, "He preached to those spirits that were in prison: 20Which had been some time incredulous (Greek, apeitheō - unbelieving, disobedient), when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe." 1 Peter 3:19-20, and then again, "He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens, that he might fill all things." Ephesians 4:9-10 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
But why was it necessary for Christ to preach to the dead in the lower parts of the earth after His Crucifixion?
Well, besides "filling all things" or taking jurisdiction over every part of Creation, St. Paul says, "Ascending on high, he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men." Ephesians 4:8 (Douay-Rheims Bible) So, whether living or dead, mankind received the most expensive gift Heaven could buy through the death of God's Son.
And what was that gift?
Returning to St. Paul's account of 'Creation enduring the depravity of the Creator's death' we read, "Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. 23And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:21-23 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
But what does the Apostle mean when he mentions being "delivered from the servitude of corruption" through "the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body?"
Consider what King David prophetically wrote about the hope that would accompany the Creator's death, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hebrew, sheol - underworld, grave, realm of the dead); nor wilt then give thy holy one to see corruption." Psalms 16:10 (Douay-Rheims Bible) If the Creator did not see corruption (remain dead until the fourth day), then David also claimed the promise of personally escaping the grave by the resurrection.
Unlike His friend Lazarus who already began to rot in the tomb after four days (John 11:39), Old Testament Scripture foretold that Jesus would arise from the grave in three days without seeing corruption, and because of that miraculous accomplishment, the power of death would be broken for the dead who hoped in Him, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. 26And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God. 27Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another: this my hope is laid up in my bosom." Job 19:25-27
"And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week," I am reminded of the refrain from the old Rogers and Hammerstein song, "Oh, what a beautiful mornin'! Oh, what a beautiful day! I've got a beautiful feelin' Ev'rythin's goin' my way!" Just as ugly as Black Friday was, Easter Morning was truly that much more beautiful to the extreme! Never, since the time when God saw that the Sixth Day of Creation was "very good," had there been such a gorgeous sunrise, and the reason was couched in the angel's proclamation, "He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid." Matthew 28:1
And the Creator said, "Because I live, ye shall live also!" John 14:19 HAPPY EASTER!