“No!” | Daily Office Devotional 2021/9/4

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:33-39

All praise to Him who humbly came
To bear our sorrow, sin, and shame,
Who lived to die, who died to rise
The all-sufficient sacrifice.

Who is He who humbly came but the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity? Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, fully God and fully man, one in substance with the Father, is this all-sufficient sacrifice. As Christians, we believe that God transcends all creation, being sovereign over everything that exists, visible and invisible. Why would such a divine Being subject himself to such grief and such a death—death on a cross?

Indeed, why did Christ have to come into the world to die?

As Christians, we believe that through Jesus’ innocent death, God saw fit to forgive the sins of the entire world—for this man was not only man, but perfect Man, who lived His life as one truly righteous before God. He offered His sacrifice of love on the altar of the cross so that all who belonged to Him would be covered by His righteousness.

As the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar puts it, Christ’s death on the cross was (and is) God’s resounding “No!” to sin. An innocent Man was put to death because of humanity’s greed, our lust for power, and our selfish ambition. Indeed, Christ suffers in solidarity with all who suffer because of sin. On the cross, He quotes Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”, and identifies himself with the humble and meek, the ones who mourn, who cry out to God for deliverance. Yet, sin would not have the final word, for God’s love was victorious through the cross—Christ died to rise, and His resurrection was God’s triumphant “No!” to sin and death.

As Christians, we believe that our Lord, through His death, was showing us the true meaning of our lives. To die is in keeping with the nature of the Christian life, for through Baptism all Christians are united with Christ in His death (see Romans 6:4-6). For us, this means that we also must say “No!” to our sinful nature, taking up our own cross and seeking to follow Jesus daily. While this involves sacrifice and painful discipline, we know that through the same Baptism we will “certainly be united with [Christ] in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5). As we stand before the cross of Christ, let us marvel at His sacrifice on our behalf, asking for God’s grace that we might follow Him here in this world, giving right praise to Him who gave himself for us.

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