Jesus on the Cross – Crucifixion of Jesus – Lectio Divina: Matthew 27:31-55

1. Introductory prayer 

Jesus’ suffering invites me to cope with my suffering, with darkness in my life. But it is hard to be there, I’d rather quit, escape. Jesus remained until the end. From love. And he is calling me to love – myself and others, and stay. Even if I’m humiliated. Please Father, strengthen my faith and my trust in You, to stay – because my value is already in the fact that I am your child.

2. Reading – Listening: The Gospel according to Matthew 27:31-55 – Jesus on the Cross

31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus – Jesus on the Cross

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads40 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!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “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. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 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?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 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. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 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!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel 

God’s word of Palm Sunday is very rich. It wants us to introduce the secrets of the cross. We will listen to the reading of the “Passion” – this is the description of Jesus’ suffering. We are invited into the hall of the Last Supper, where Jesus through the bread and wine delivers himself to all mankind.

Then, in the garden of Gethsemane. There is our Lord once again tested. He accepts from the Father’s hands the chalice of suffering. Then he feels on his face treacherous kiss from one of his disciples. He finds himself in the grips of servants.

From now on He will be passed from hand to hand like a piece of wood: the servants, the Jews, Pilate, soldiers. He will not open his mouth when they spit on him and beat him, he will be silent in front of the false testimony. Just on the question, if He is the King and Son of God, will He answer in the affirmative way. Now that we don’t see anything divine and royal on him, he can tell us who he really is.

Meanwhile, his disciples are also put to the test, especially Peter and Judas. The first realizes his sin and bitterly cries, and the other, the knowledge of sin leads him to despair.

The final act follows: the Way of the Cross. On the Calvary Jesus is stripped, nailed to the cross, and then made fun of. On the cross, he is experiencing even abandonment by his Father. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then breathes out. Joseph of Arimathea, accompanied by the wife’s, places him in the tomb.

We know that Jesus will not remain in the tomb. God will not let his loved one to rot in the grave. But why did he want his suffering and death? What does the Father has from the death of his Son?

This death was not for the Father, but for us, for the forgiveness of our sins. It revealed the Father’s love for us, because he gave also his Son for us. The Son of God had to go in the grave, that the Father’s love and power is revealed. At the same time a lot of trust was revealed in the Father from Jesus. He believed that death cannot separate him from the Father.

Finally, Jesus revealed to us the image of a good God. Adam in paradise questioned the goodness of God, he had him for a competitor and began to fear Him. The man has settled for an evil image of God. Jesus in the days of suffering shows that God is good. He loved the man, although he was beaten, spat, and made fun of him.

“Here I am, whatever you do to me, I will not stop loving you.” Is this the God who should be afraid of? Is not this a good image of the Father who accepts the child’s resistance, which gives the freedom to his children, even if he knows that they can abandon and forget him? We can trust his love, even in death.

4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • For everything there is time – for the joy and the cross. We wish to go down from the cross, because it is difficult. We invite others to go down also. But Christ invites us to stay on the cross, with the hope until the end – although we do not know where and what is the end.
  • What, who can help me to hold in the pain, hopelessness, sadness? What can I have, to stay in the desert?
  • Captain believed, when he saw the signs. What signs does God show me during my testing, troubles, that He is with me?
  • For my sins Jesus has suffered. I hand over to him my sins and let Him wash me with His mercy. Wherever the Redeemer comes, something may come alive. Christ, Love, wants to come to me, to break the shackles and awaken me.

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about of this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God)

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence to be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me.

Perhaps from this silence I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship, or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

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7. Action 

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action)

8. Prayer at the end

Jesus went to the end – because he loves me, he really loves me. Love to the end. Thank You, God, you saved me and you always call me in your love. In your hands I turn myself. Good Lord, through Christ, you open me for love – to be sympathetic with myself when it is hard, with people who are in trials, and that I go with you in faith and hope.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel at the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. By prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home  – ignacijevdom.si