As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Holgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah’.

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s son.

- Matthew 27:32-56

I think that the one of the points being made by Matthew in this passage of scripture is just how much God truly loves us. Jesus knows exactly what he is doing and is consciously aware of why he is doing it as he approaches, is nailed, and dies on the cross.

What Jesus did for us here was of immeasurable significance. Jesus knew that the only way to bring us back to a place of righteousness before God, was by his perfect sacrifice, atoning once and for all for the sins of humanity. And so he endured great pain and anguish to ensure that all that had been prophesied about his would come to pass. But in this moment of Jesus dying on the cross, there is not a sense of defeat, but one of absolute victory! Many people read Jesus' words of, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" as a cry of abandonment and rejection. However, it can also be seen as referencing Psalm 22, which starts with the very words Jesus spoke from the cross, and ends on a note of praise and celebration for what God has done. And it is out of that victory of Jesus on the cross that we now are able to experience full unlimited access to the presence of God. And this, bridging the separation of sin between Him and us, was God's plan all along.

So now, because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we are made righteous in the eyes of God. And that is a huge deal. There was nothing we could do for ourselves to become righteous before God, but Jesus came and did everything for us. And so often we become numb to this part of the gospel, when in fact it is supposed to be the climax of the story. That GOD would step out of Heaven, take on the form of mankind, serve that which he created, be rejected by the ones he loves most of all, and be brutally murdered all for the sake of reuniting the connection between God and ourselves, which had previously been broken by sin. So I invite you to ask God to remind you of his awesomeness, of how great his love is for you, and what an incredible blessing it is that you are freely able to approach God whenever you want for whatever you want. Ask Him for a fresh perspective on those things. And then start asking God what you should do with this new, fresh perspective.

God, I ask that we would not grow numb or desensitized to the significance of your actions on the cross. I pray that we would have a conscious awareness of how wonderful you are and how loved we are by you at all times of the day. That you are the only thing that enables us to stand righteous before your presence. God, I ask that we would receive a new and deeper appreciation for your sacrifice than we have ever known before. And that out of that appreciation, we would desire to live more humbly and surrendered to your heart. Thank you God, for being better than we could ever imagine.
Amen.

- Will Goodwin