Summary: We consider how Jesus must have felt reading the prophecy of Amos 8:10 that spoke of the bitter day of his crucifixion.
Sermon: The end of a bitter day
Text: Amos 8:10
April 6th, 2007
The year is 760 B.C. a fruit farmer living 16 km. south of Jerusalem finds his mind wondering towards God, his heart is impressed with sorrow for his beloved nation about to be judged. It seems that he cannot escape the thoughts that pour into his head, even the baskets of fruit holds a prophetic warning for the nation he loves. Try as he might he cannot distract his thoughts from those which cascade into his imagination and he must give them expression. It is in this context of being carried along by the Holy Spirit that Amos records the words that foretell the tragedy that will come upon the nation of Israel and which foreshadows the darkest day in human history – the one we call Good Friday.
“In that day, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your religious feasts into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.”
I wonder if Jesus, reading that passage, and realizing that it was spoken of Him, I wonder if He asked Himself, “how bitter?” Could Jesus have imagined that the nation that hailed Him as a king as He entered on a donkey would reject His life for that of an insurrectionist? Did He suspect that the one He trusted with His money purse would betray Him for a few silver coins? How was He able to see past the boldness of the one who stood by His side with a sword to defend Him at His arrest and perceive the coward who would deny that he knew Him? How deep was the pain of hearing those who were experts in the law, which foretold of Him, twist that law to deny Him the justice that the law upheld? How bitter was that day when the one who created humanity was rejected by that humanity?
How bitter was the ridicule? Were there among the voices the sound of those who had once been mute, were there eyes of scorn now staring which had not long before been blind, were there people running with the crowd, drunk in the revelry of bloodthirsty entertainment, who had once only been carried? How bitter was the day? Was the cross that he carried made from a dead fig tree found outside the city that some say He had cursed and now was cursing Him? Were the tools which fashioned it those which once held memories of joy in His father’s workshop? Had the soldiers who mocked Him ever been under the command of the centurion whose servant Jesus had healed? How bitter was the day when the one who upheld the universe was held up upon a cross?
How bitter was the irony when the one who claimed to be life was stripped of life? When the one who said that “whoever believes in me will never thirst again,” Cried out “I thirst?” When the feet that walked on water were nailed upon a cross and hands that blessed the heads of children were stretched out as a curse; that the one who heard a voice from heaven say this is my son, now cried out to heaven asking why he was forsaken? How bitter was the irony that the one whose spit had opened blind eyes was spit upon by those still blinded.
How bitter was that day? How bitter was the pain that He endured in silence. The one who chose to put on flesh now had his flesh stripped from Him as He was whipped by Roman guards. The one, who was head of all powers and authority, was surrounded by the puppets of Caesar’s authority and struck upon His head. The words of whose breath had calmed storms and gave life to the dead, found His breath being slowly choked as he breathed His last. How bitter was the pain for the one which the prophets said “A bruised reed he will not break,” whose body now lay bruised and beaten.
How bitter was the humility of being stripped and exposed and displayed in shame, for one who modeled modesty? Whose life had exemplified gentleness and love to be surrounded by anger and hate? The one about whom the Psalmist said “owned the cattle on a thousand hills,” was buried in a borrowed tomb.
His final taste was the bitterness of vinegar, His final image was the bitterness of His mother and friends in morning, His final sounds were the sounds of crowds mocking, soldiers swearing and religions leaders ridiculing. His final feeling was the agony of asphyxiation as He could no longer lift His body to draw His breath, His final thought was that God had abandoned Him and His final resting place was in a stone, dark, cold cave – the end of a bitter day.