by Christina Redman
Jesus’ fourth saying from the cross came at the 9th hour and darkness had filled the land since the 6th hour. It had been dark from noon until 3pm. Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This question has stumped many over the years. Why would Jesus ask this question even though He knew this was God’s plan all along? He also knew that He would be raised on the third day. He knew how this would all end yet He still cried out to the Father, “Why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” Here David is crying out to God. Today that might sound more like, “God where are you? Why have you left me?”
Jesus cries out because He was truly forsaken. He was bearing the weight of the sin of the world, the weight of my sin, and the weight of yours. Not only was experiencing separation and abandonment from the Father, but He was experiencing the full wrath of God. It wasn’t just the nails of the pain of the cross that caused Him agony, His deepest agony was caused by experiencing the wrath of God.
His cry is more an expression of his anguish than an actual question. He knew this was the plan all along. He knew what would happen, but still He cried out to His Dad. He asked a question and expressed what He was feeling.
So often we don’t express what we’re really feeling to the Father because, “We should know better.” Our faith should be stronger, and we feel shame over our thoughts and feelings. We see the other Christians posting inspiring quotes and passages on Facebook and we waver. We know in our mind Romans 8:28, “that for those who love God all things work together for good,” but the things we’re living with are hard, our hearts are in anguish, and we may even wonder where God is in the middle of it all. Broken marriages are hard, depression is hard, abuse is hard, COVID-19 is hard, isolation is hard, death is hard, loss is hard.
But our hope is in a Savior who has felt what we’ve felt.
Jesus was forsaken so we wouldn’t have to be. Jesus asked the hard questions, so we can ask the hard questions.
I pray in this Holy Week that we meet with Him, that we draw near to our suffering Savior, and ask the hard questions.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15
He already knows our thoughts, and the cries of our heart, and He is a loving Father who wants to hear from His kids.