Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. —Steve Jobs
I didn’t watch the videos, but I did see the photographs of our brothers in Christ, dressed in orange jumpsuits, knowing the men standing behind them intended to take their lives. And I wondered, what were they thinking, knowing death had arrived?
I’ve wondered the same about Jesus. What was He thinking as He hung upon the cross, knowing death had come?
Most of us know Jesus’ famous last words: “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is a direct quote from Psalm 22—a Messianic psalm memorized by Jewish children. As Jesus spoke from the cross, those standing there would most likely have said it along with Him. Almost involuntarily reciting the words they’d known since childhood:
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest … Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help … I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax … Rescue me from the mouth of the lions … (Psalm 22:2, 11, 14, 21)
As Jesus died, He was thinking of this psalm. It’s happening! It’s coming true. Only a little longer now.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. (Psalm 22:21-22)
Yet His last thoughts didn’t end with pain and loneliness. There is a pivot. In verse 21, Jesus cries for help. But in verse 22, Jesus rejoices that His cry was heard. He speaks of the resurrection and death conquered! Through Him, an assembly of believers will praise the Father in glory.
And so Jesus’ last thoughts steadied Him. As lonely as death was, He was the last of God’s children to go through death alone.
Jesus, what a gift to read Your final thoughts upon the cross. How humbling to know You experienced aloneness in death so that aloneness could be conquered. When I think of being part of Your family, I feel the weight of glory found through the resurrection. Amen.