Sunday, April 21, 2013

"My God, My God..."

In light of some recent online discussions, I thought I post my thoughts on Matthew 27:46. The following is essentially the content of my “blurb” that I spoke to the church congregation back in May. I think this is a very important issue because many want to interpret Jesus’ words as if God actually abandoned Him while on the cross bearing our sin. I think this is wrong and dangerous because it calls into question the perichoretic unity of the Godhead; and in calling God’s oneness and unity into question, it also calls into question our confidence that nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

This is basically what I said:

Every time I sing Great is Thy Faithfulness I can imagine that these were Jesus’ thoughts even as He cried out, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” I believe that even in this His greatest moment of despair as He is seemingly abandoned by His Father He never doubted the Love of His Father toward Him. In fact, I submit (and this is not a novel teaching) that even as He was dying on the Cross, with those words He was declaring His undying trust in the faithfulness of His Father. Why do I say this? Because these words of anguish and despair are the opening refrain of Psalm 22 which ends in praise for God’s deliverance!

I want to emphasize that in bearing our sin and guilt, in so completely and fully identifying with us in His humanity, Jesus experienced as real our alienation from God; He really did feel abandoned & forsaken by God; He experienced as real an “aloneness” that brought Him true grief and anguish and despair. We can’t overemphasize this enough. He was truly one of us and bore in Himself our guilt & shame; in bearing our full humanity, Jesus experienced as real our darkness and “exile”, as it were.

But “In the Greatest of Ironies”, as one author put it, this cry of forsakenness & abandonment by our Lord was His announcement to the people of God’s “divine presence and rescue and salvation”.

Again, in His identification with us and our guilt I have no doubt that Jesus truly feels alone and abandoned as He bears our sin; but He also knows and trusts His Father. Jesus uses Psalm 22 (and even 23 and 24 as his hearers, I believe, would have continued meditating on) to declare the meaning of what is now taking place. In effect, He is saying, “You think you know your Scripture; now Learn your Scripture and watch and see the salvation—yours and mine—of our God!”

Now the Jews did know their Scripture; and as we often do when we hear the beginning of a favorite song or story, they would have begun reflecting on the rest of the Psalm. This Psalm then was Jesus’ answer to those who were mocking Him—yes I do trust in God and yes He will deliver Me!

Read Psalm 22 (and 23 and 24) in this context.

Again, one author says this: “Psalm 22 moves from agony to God’s victorious intervention and to a prophecy that the coming generations will look back upon this moment as the salvation of the Lord of Hosts.” Jesus is saying “This moment is now!”

This is the declaration of our Savior: “My God and Father is the Faithful and Merciful God who Delivers His People! Watch and See!” And they did! Three days later—an empty tomb!

And since we have died with Him and have been raised in Him, we know this Deliverance and we too experience the Salvation of the Lord of Hosts! Jesus’ Faith is our Faith; His trust & confidence is our trust & confidence; His Resurrection is our Resurrection. And His Life is our Life.

And because the Father never abandoned His Son but Saved or Delivered Him and Raised Him and Seated Him at His right hand, we can be confident, as Paul says, that nothing shall separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus!

Praise and Glory to our Great God and Savior!

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