Last week we looked at how Jesus was transfigured and Elijah and Moses joined him. Just a short while later, He has taken our sin on Himself and is hanging on the cross. It’s another time that those around Him would rather look for Elijah than believe Jesus could be who He says He is.
It’s a gruesome scene. Jesus has been tortured and hung on a cross. He’s been struggling to breathe for 9 hours. Even as He’s dying, He is not spared. The majority of his disciples have ran in fear, afraid that they too might find themselves hanging next to Jesus. Jesus has been withstanding abuse from those who refuse to believe. They’re so hoping what He promised would come true, but they fall into the same trap as we do. We want what we want RIGHT NOW and exactly how we expect it. Jesus gives them something better. They were merely waiting for the removal of their present suffering but instead Jesus gives eternal life AND an abundant earthly life to ANYONE who will believe, not just the two jokers hanging beside Him. He has bigger eyes than we do. A greater plan.
In Matthew 27:46 Jesus calls out. Scripture says He cries out in a loud voice, which is hard for me to wrap my mind around. Where does He find the energy, except only in His deep heartache and hope? He cries, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
But these were words the Jews were not familiar with. They believed Jesus was calling for Elijah. Jesus, the Son of God, Messiah of the Universe, and our Savior, calling to be saved by Elijah? Did they know nothing? Had they been listening at all?
As Jesus hang dying, His father turned his back to His Son. God wasn’t turning His back on Jesus’ suffering; He was turning away from our filth. Jesus took upon Himself all our ugliness, shame, wrongdoings, the murder in our hearts and on our hands, unkind words, lustful eyes, ungrateful hearts, greedy attitudes, every sin you’ve worked so hard to purge from yourself, Jesus magnificently conquered.
What his words meant were no cry to Elijah, it was a cry to His Father. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” There Jesus hung, carrying all our sin, and even in death He was abandoned, yet He turned to His Father.
Elijah didn’t come rescue Jesus. Neither did His Father. Jesus was left to die.
His disciples carried his body to a tomb to get it prepared for burial, and the unthinkable happened 3 days later. Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death, defeated the ultimate enemy, and gave us a way for salvation through His act.
Just like the criminals hanging beside Jesus, I want to look to other saviors also. I look for my own Elijah’s in a hundred ways every single day. But there is one who answers. There is one who holds the truth about my future and is willing to do something about. My Savior is the Jesus who suffered for me, stole my shame; He wrapped my broken flesh around Himself so I could be whole.
This was the message of John the Baptist. This was the hope of Elijah as he endured suffering. This was the Good News worth suffering over, so you and I, our friends, our family, strangers around the world, could know the deep love of Jesus.
Will you trust in Him? Maybe you have already. But maybe today you need to receive Him again, not for your eternal salvation, you’re assured of that already, but maybe you need to receive salvation today for the grace to make it through another day.
Ask Him to save you today from the shame of your sin, from the darkness of your doubt, and the self-sufficiency you claim. Ask Him to intervene. Ask Him to save.