Updated: Apr 27, 2022
"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" ~ Matthew 27:46
I hope and pray you had a beautifully blessed Palm Sunday!
Here we are at the beginning of Holy Week. Taken on with intentionality, a thoughtful journey day-by-day can be and has been one of the most profoundly moving experiences I've ever known.
Walking through the intricacies of the details of each day, of each part of the story, is capable of plumbing the depths and expanding faith in ways few things have the ability to do.
Last year we spoke of Maundy Thursday, if memory serves.
This year, there's a specific moment between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday tugging on my heart. And, I'll be real with you, I don't think my perspective aligns the prevailing wisdom on the matter. So, if you disagree, I thank you here and now for your indulgence and our continuing relationship in spite of potential differences of opinion.
I realize we haven't gotten there yet, but the post posts on Monday, so forgive me for taking you prematurely to Friday... which may or may not have actually been on a Friday, but that's an historical details conversation for another time.
Setting the scene; Jesus has been mocked and then tortured with a tissue tearing, bone cracking scourging, then mocked some more. He has been forced to carry the implement of His own death, until He was unable. He has been raised upon the cross. He has given a promise to the thief who saw Him clearly and knew Him. He is in a condition and a position that make it nearly impossible to breathe, to even take any air into His lungs at all, yet somehow He manages it. And, just before the veil of the temple is torn in two, the earth shakes, and stones are broken, the Savior of the world cries out, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
The meaning behind those critical words is quite controversial. There's a popular praise song that even says "The Father looked away." The prevailing opinion seems to have been and continue to be that God was absent in that moment, that He chose abandonment, having forsaken His Son in His moment of greatest need.
And, I have to say, I simply do not believe that's possible.
There's another school of thought that believes, when He cried out with those words, He was referencing and pointing us to Psalm 22.
Skeptics of this theory say there's no concrete evidence that the Jewish people used to refer to a whole Psalm by citing the first line. Others insist it was common practice, because they didn't have chapter and verse the way we do now. I don't have enough of a grasp of the customs of the time to make an assertion one way or the other.
I simply have faith. If God the Father will never leave you nor forsake you, how or why would He ever abandon His Son in the most critical of moments?
In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes, "... that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. 10,000,000 intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances, can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to God than any other person is."
Not to mention, Psalm 139:7-12?
Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle by the farthest sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me'— even the darkness is not dark to You, but the night shines like the day, for darkness is as light to You.
Even in Sheol? Hmm...
All of that being the case, I believe God was as near to His Son in that moment as He is to you and me in this moment. And, I believe the Messiah knew it. When He was going through hell on earth, just as He faced down temptation in the desert after 40 days with strength and confidence, I believe He knew He was embraced. And, He knew the job He was sent here to do.
Not to mention, of course that He was fully God and fully man, yes? (John 10:30, Colossians 2:9 & 1:19, among others.)
I believe He simply left us a powerful message with His final words, not that anything in Him felt Himself forsaken. I believe He knew better.
Though, of course we can never know for sure what He was thinking, this side of eternity at least.
I have to believe that Jesus had to show up in the full strength of Yeshua as God in order to carry the full weight of every sin to the cross. I have to think that the Son fully man, absent the presence of God, would have been squished like a bug under such a burden.
I humbly suggest you consider spending a little time reading and meditating on the words of Psalm 22, then prayerfully ask the Father whether He would abandon His Son in His moment of greatest need.
I suspect I know the answer you will receive. But, that's between you and Him.
Only the Father knows, and maybe in my human perception I'm wrong.
Thank You that Your Word is a living thing, that You speak to us through It still.
Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us discern.
Though it seems absurd to say, thank You for the gift of the Son on the cross. He rode into town on a donkey, praised. After treachery, mockery, torture, and the ultimate price was paid, He ascended to Your right hand. And we the beneficiaries of it all.
Thank You and amen.
"Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" ~ Joshua 1:9
"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." ~ Colossians 1:17
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, observing the evil and the good." ~ Proverbs 15:3
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
Bonus song of praise... ♥
Sharables! ...and, hey, thanks for sharing. ♥
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