Good Friday

Matthew 27:45-46

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

I hear these words of Christ today. I breathe out; my eyes close.   

A man is walking two hundred miles from Delhi to reach his family, and he falls to the earth, alone. A woman trembles in a hospital bed, alone, kept from the touch of her beloved, her world a blur of masked faces, panicked movement, piercing alarms. My 97-year-old neighbour sits in his armchair and sighs, alone. Isolation is not new to him; he has lived in this chair for years. I feel an ache, see a cloud: a loneliness, a darkness that for many covers the land.

I see Jesus. He steps out of an upper room, from the warm light of communion, into deepest night. He climbs the Mount of Olives, the hill David ascended as he wept over a betrayal and prayed for deliverance. Jesus weeps and asks this cup be taken from him; his closest friends sleep. I see an empty kiss, a secret arrest, his desertion in the garden. Then the priests mock him; Peter disowns him; Jerusalem turns against him; the soldiers salute him, strike him, spit on him, scorn him. The crowds part before him as he stumbles to Golgotha. 

I see the cross: a King lifted up for public humiliation. His enemies laugh and hurl their insults. The bandits at his right and left hand throw their taunts. 

A cloud covers the land; darkness at the height of day. Jesus is still. He who knows perfect communion with the Father enters the heart of our night, experiencing “in all its fullness and all its horror the suffering of loneliness,”[1] a feeling of complete desolation, of forsakenness even of God. He cries out. In him, the words of the twenty-second psalm find their full meaning. He prays them for our sake. “Now we know,” Bonhoeffer writes, “that there is no longer any suffering on earth in which Christ, our only helper, is not with us.”[2]

Under my breath, I pray the psalm with Christ, in him, knowing that, somewhere in the world, another member of his body is participating in his loneliness, and praying his prayer. His prayer is theirs, and because we are one body, it is mine.

Yet, even as I pray his words, I know, somehow, that we are not alone. Because God entered our night in Jesus Christ, because he fills even the unfathomable depths of this psalm with his divine presence, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are, in the words of one of our own,

            Never alone.

            Never any breath alone.

            Never a thought or quiver alone of any kind.

            Never a beat or pulse or love for any

            human soul alone. 

            Alone is impossible, alone is death

            but even then, never alone.

            Alone would be to live without

            the womb of Divine oxygen surrounding

            human spark and cell – there can be no alone.

            Not even for enemies.

            Not even for emptiness itself in its vast taunts

            and separation intent.

            There can be no alone.

            There is no space not filled with Divine presence,

            nor the envelope of Creator breath.

            Alone is invention, lowbrow imagination

            built to shelter human shame,

            the weapon that tried to slay its maker.

            Yet, even still,

            never alone.[3]

-Strahan Coleman    

Ryan Lang, Graduate Teaching Assistant, School of Theology


[1] Gordon Huelin, The Light of the Cross (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1969), 57.

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, ed. Jr. Floyd, Wayne Whitson, trans. Daniel W. Bloesch and James H. Burtness, English Edition ed., Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 170.

[3] Strahan Coleman, Prayer Vol.01 (New Zealand: Strahan Coleman, 2019), 10.