“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ~Matthew 27:46
The Gospel of Matthew records only one of Jesus’ words from this cross, and it is this heart-rending, heart-breaking cry: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was a cry of such utter desolation that we stagger under its weight. If we allow the events of the cross to pierce our hands and our hearts, then we find ourselves crying out with Jesus. The hardest part is that there is no quick answer to this cry of abandonment, no angelic rescue. Just the absolute silence of God.
Over the years, theologians have struggled with this word and its implications. Many see this cry as the beginning of a quote from Psalm 22. If you read this Psalm, you will see that this cry of despair slowly works itself back into hope and reaffirmation of God’s presence.
A second interpretation sees Jesus’ cry from the cross as pointing to the power of sin to separate us from God. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: “For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
As for me – I think that both camps are right. This is both the utterance of a Psalm Jesus knew well, and a reminder of the heavy price of our sins. But I also believe that it is something more: this is a testimony to how Jesus has plumbed the very depths of human existence. There are times when we feel that God has forgotten us; when we feel forsaken, particularly in these fearful days.
And then we look at the cross, and we know that there is One who walked this way before us. We look at the cross and know that there is no darkness that He has not already entered for us, illuminating it with His saving grace. As Barbara Brown Taylor writes:
“As awful as it is, I will tell you something shocking: There are people who say that Good Friday means more to them than Easter does. They have nothing against the lilies, the trumpets, the lovely children. It is just that Good Friday, as awful as it is, is more recognizable. They know about suffering. They know their way around this wreckage, and there is comfort in the fact that God knows it too. …We live in the land at the foot of the cross.”
Joining you at the foot of the cross,
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