Tuesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 27:45-49; Mark 15:33-36

Forsaken So We Wouldn’t Have To Be

There are no words that should break the Christian’s heart more than these words spoken by our Lord on the cross just before his death: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  He is quoting from Psalm 22, written so many centuries before, which prophesied the people mocking, wagging their heads and saying, “He trusts in the Lord, let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him” (22:7-8; compare: Matthew 27:43; Mark 15:29).  The psalm even prophesies the type of death Jesus would die (“they have pierced my hands and my feet,” 22:16) centuries before the founding of Rome and the method of crucifixion was ever imagined!  At any rate, the psalm is one in which David expresses his complaint that he is surrounded by enemies who wish him harm, but in which at the end he expresses his faith that God will deliver him, that he shall praise His name yet again, and that the ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord.

But the psalm begins with this cry of forsakenness, a forsakenness which Jesus keenly felt.  His entire earthly life he lived in perfect fellowship with the Father, a fellowship we would have experienced had we not sinned in the Garden.  Indeed, his fellowship with the Father was still closer because of his union with Him in his divine nature, and his being filled with the Holy Spirit (without measure) in his human nature.  Our Lord walked with the Father in a way that even Adam and Eve could not experience in their pre-fallen state.  But here on the cross, we hear this cry of dereliction, of utter abandonment, from our Lord’s lips.  Why?  Because he was forsaken and abandoned by his Father while on the cross.  And why was that?  Because he took our sins upon himself.  You see, ultimately, it was not the cross that killed Jesus.  Jesus said himself, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).  Because Jesus never sinned, he could not die, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  But he took our sins upon himself as the Lamb of God.  In so doing, “[God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  But in taking our sins upon himself (Isaiah 53:6), he experienced God’s wrath for us (1 John 4:10), and was separated from the Father on our account, as sin must separate the sinner from holy God (Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13).  And as our sins were laid upon him, in that moment, utter forsakenness from the One to whom he was perfectly united in love, broke his heart and killed him.  He was forsaken of God so that we would never have to be.  Such is the measure of our sin.  But such also is the measure of God’s love for us.  You are so loved by God!  Weep and rejoice.

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