June 21, 2019
As darkness enveloped the fearsome hill of Golgotha, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many followers in centuries hence have found this quotation from Psalm 22:1 perplexing, even troubling. How could the Son of God feel estrangement from his father when he had willfully taken on the cup of suffering, enduring it to its inevitable end?
by Del Gates
This was the human Jesus who had agonizingly prostrated himself in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before, even as his trusted disciples slept. This was the Jesus who had known that a trusted disciple had betrayed him; who had painstakingly prepared his disciples to carry on after he had gone from their midst, but who knew that all of them would fall away, even deny him publicly.
As one who has passed three score and ten, I join countless others who have endured what early church fathers referred to as the dark night of the soul – a purging process that calls us to release all that is unhealed, all that has distanced us from our Creator, and all evil of this world that we have taken on. It is such a time of self-doubt and estrangement that we witness here.
After enduring three hours of excruciating pain of crucifixion and the burden of sin for all human creation, Jesus felt the darkness of these words from Psalm 22 – but that is not the end! Jesus no doubt remembered the promise of His father’s faithfulness later in that same Psalm (vs. 19-28):
But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me. I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried out to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
PRAYER: Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not; thy compassions, they fail not; as thou hast been, thou forever will be. AMEN.