Friday, April 06, 2007

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

For many perhaps no more astonishing words have ever been cried than when Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - a cry expressing the profound sense of divine forsakenness that the psalmist felt in Psalm 22. Yet, by praying, it seems to me that Jesus shows that He knows He is not truly or finally abandoned by God. He knows, however, that His Father will not intervene in His behalf to either save Him or alleviate His suffering. As He did in the Garden, Jesus struggles on the cross with the temptation of turning from the path to which God has predestined Him in order to accomplish His purposes.

Deserted by His disciples, forsaken by the fickle crowds, Jesus suffers alone. When Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus' cross, he did not do so out of pity but because he was forced to. The soldiers care nothing for their victim, except that He has a nice garment that they claim as booty. He is taunted and ridiculed by commoner and priest alike (Mark 15:29-32).

But it is the horror of His Father's nonintervention that causes Jesus to cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The sinless Son of God becomes a curse for us, as the falling darkness poignantly demonstrates, just as it did when the curse of God rested on the land of Egypt during the first Passover (Exodus 10:21,22; Mark 15:33). The cup does not pass from Him. God's will must be accomplished. Jesus knows this. And as He cried out the words of Psalm 22:1, He would have known that just as the psalm begins in apparent defeat, it ends in triumph.

In Psalm 22:22 we read, "I will tell of your name to my brothers' in the midst of the congregation I will praise." Because of the suffering that He endured (as seen in Psalm 22), the author of Hebrews 2:12 quotes these words to remind his readers that Jesus has been crowned with glory that is to be shared with all (2:9), specifically those whom He is not ashamed to call brothers (2:11). And since He Himself remained faithful in the midst of suffering for the purposes of God, He is able to assist in their time of persecution (2: 14-18). The purposes of God continue to require those who go out crying, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and who remain faithful, knowing that Psalm 22:1 is not the end of the story.

No comments: