My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? It is a question that hangs heavy. Even when I read the words, I feel their depth of despair. If I heard them uttered out loud, I might break under the weight of their emotion.
Forsaken is not a word uttered with regularity in day-to-day life. It is thick and empty all at the same time.
Although, Jesus did not just utter this question, he shouted it. In a loud voice.
He could have whispered, but it was not a secret. This was not a private prayer between He and His Father. These were words Jesus wanted us to hear. This was private desperation and public hope crashing together in a gloriously agonizing moment.
On the cross, Jesus fulfills His divine destiny. He quotes Psalm 22, and lets us know that He is satisfying its words in all their fullness.
We can see that in the unfolding of events. He is surrounded by people who mock His faith, His identity, and His God (v. 7-8). His strength runs out and his mouth runs dry (v. 15), His hands and feet are pierced (v. 16). He watches as his clothes are divided by casting lots before He even dies (v. 18).
Jesus’ crucifixion calls us back to Psalm 22 as it meets the criteria for historical accuracy. But its fulfillment runs much deeper than that.
Because Psalm 22 is not a piece of historical prose. It is a lament. A deep cry of anguish. The words of Psalm 22 are desperately heart-breaking and achingly beautiful.
Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. - Psalm 22:13-14
Forsaken. Abandoned. Separated.
As Jesus took our sin upon Himself, He took the separation that comes with it. Because at its core, this is what sin does. It divides. Sin severs us from righteousness. From relationship. From wholeness. From peace. From good.
What was it like for the Son of God, who had never known anything but perfect unity with His Father to suddenly become separated?
As the Jesus Storybook Bible puts it, “for the first time, and the last, God turned His back on His boy.”
To a lesser degree, this is a feeling familiar to us. We have felt ignored and thirsty and separated and tired and abandoned.. We have wondered where God could be found in the midst of all this pain.
When Jesus cries out words of forsakenness, He shows us where God can be found. Right in the middle of the anguish.
And as Jesus points us to Psalm 22, He points us to a perspective we can have in the midst of the despair. Psalm 22 ends with declarations of God’s goodness and salvation.
future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! - Psalm 22:30b-31
Not a false kind of hope that overlooks the pain or pretends it can be undone, but the real kind of hope that comes alongside to bear with those who grieve.
Faith in a God who will come through to rescue and who hears our cries as we wait for that moment. Trust in a God who loves us enough to send His Son to anguish on a cross on our behalf. Confidence that this sacrifice satisfied what was needed for atonement= at-one-ment. No longer separated, but together. With God. His grace, love, joy, and peace made available.
So we can cry with Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” knowing that He is there, listening, bearing with us, bringing us grace. We are not forgotten.
Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.