(a four-minute read)
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 1
That was Jesus’ question on the cross, when God the Father turned His face away from God the Son. This was also my question about twenty years ago, when the pain of sexual abuse became overwhelming, and the holes I dug for myself to erase abusive memories grew too deep to crawl out of.
God the Father did not answer Jesus’ question from the cross. But Jesus’ mission on the earth was to answer mine.
Jesus was perfect in life, and took that perfection to His crucifixion. We might say Jesus was killed unjustly for crimes He didn’t commit. God sees it differently. In His eyes, Jesus sacrificed Himself for the crimes we committed, to pay our collective debt.
It takes a lot of love to do that, pay off someone else’s debt. Perfect, unconditional love, you might say. And that love is the only explanation for why God would allow you and me to be saved from our own deserved damnation.
Jesus stepped in for us, was crucified and died. Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy would definitely have announced, ‘He’s dead, Jim!’
If that were the end of the story, the entire effort would have been for nothing. Fortunately, that’s not the end. Jesus’ death wasn’t merely a death, it was a payment on behalf of everyone who deserved death for their imperfection. It was the eternal Get Out of Hell Free card for all of us, even those like me who didn’t even ask for it.
Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father raised Jesus up from the dead. Jesus is alive.
With His resurrection back to life, the victory over sin and death – over the works and lies of the devil – was complete. You and I have had restored to us the ability to fight against satanic power and win. And, by God’s strength, we always win. And we will keep winning until Jesus returns to judge us all.
When Jesus cried out to the Father, He was quoting Psalm 22, which begins like this:
‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from delivering me, and from my roaring words of distress?’ 2
I claimed at the beginning of this reflection that I had asked the same question. I didn’t really, because none of us can actually ask that question. Why? Because God doesn’t forsake us until we give Him no choice – until we are dead and choice is no longer an option.
God pursued me relentlessly for more than thirty years, despite all the things I did, thought and felt that made me His enemy. He didn’t forsake me; I forsook Him, turning away from Him to run after my own pleasures and my own ideas.
Only Jesus gets to ask that question of the Father, because He is the only one the Father ever actually turned away from.
This is an eternal irony: God the Father, being perfect, turned His back on the only perfect human, God the Son, so that we imperfect ones wouldn’t have to be rejected for missing the mark.
Jesus’ self-sacrificial death was a temporal act with eternal implications. Because your soul also lives forever, your temporal act to believe – or not believe – also has eternal implications. I encourage you to reflect on the wisdom of the Psalmist in this, because Psalm 22 is a prophecy about Jesus.
The Lord takes His eternal agonizing question from the psalm’s beginning. His resurrection brings the Psalm’s last couplet, which contains the truth we see because of Jesus’ work at Calvary:
‘Posterity will serve Him; it will be told to generations about the Lord; They will come and declare His righteousness to a people yet to be born, that He has acted.’ 3
1. Psalm 22:1
2. Psalm 22:1
3. Psalm 22:30-31
Now that you have read the Question, you can read The Answer.
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