Scripture for the Day
Of all the agony of this difficult day and the cruel events of Jesus arrest and crucifixion--the lacerations of the scourging, the gouging of the thorns pressed onto Jesus’ head, the desperate, uncomfortable movements of his tormented, dehydrated body as it hangs in the heat of mid-day--of all the physical agony, none of it compares to Jesus’ spiritual desolation in his cry of anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus found his purpose and his strength in the presence of God. He was sustained throughout his ministry by the immediacy of his relationship with the Creator. With the strength of divine intention, Jesus endured the constant need of the suffering people and the ridicule cast upon him by his own. Jesus withstood the questioning, the threats, the torments, the betrayals, the unjust circumstances because through prayer and the power of the Spirit, he felt connected to his Father.
After all he has suffered, he finds himself alone on the cross as if abandoned by the very One who led him to this moment. Alone. Jesus found himself utterly, absolutely, despairingly disconnected. He feels cut off from all that gives life and breath, removed from all that gives purpose and hope. Jesus is separated from the source of his being. On the cross, he plumbs the depths of the human condition, hanging vulnerably in what seems the utter absence of God. He hangs for the benefit of sinners, in place of those who reject God. In that moment of despair, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Is there anyone who has not felt abandoned or at least separated from God at some point in life? In Jesus’ words of despair, we uncover one of the sacred mysteries of the crucifixion. In his terrible anguish and ultimate death, love reigns. We discover on this Good Friday that there is no despair so deep nor evil so overwhelming nor place so far removed from hope that God is not with us. Even as Jesus hangs in torment, the spirit of God will give him the strength to finish his life on earth in willing obedience. He will complete his mission of redemption and reconcile all of us in a forgiveness that is boundless and meant for all.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Let Jesus’ cry remind you that God knows your pain and need. The Divine One suffers with you in your difficulties and takes upon God’s very self the bitterness of your sin and brokenness. And in that cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” remember that there is no place where God cannot meet you--in your suffering, in the darkness of sin. God does not forsake us, but in Jesus welcomes death so that we might live. As the darkness of Jesus’ death looms, even now and ever after, love still reigns.