Abandonment is a lonely word… perhaps the loneliest of all. The very thought of the expression points us toward grief. Who among us hasn’t felt its sting at one time or another? Abandonment speaks of sorrow borne of solitude; an aloneness of the forsaken. Its pain is acute and seemingly devoid of healing hope for the deserted. It’s a terrible way to die.
But die He did, this Jesus so familiar to us; this true and proper God–man, the creator and owner of light, in whom existed no trace of darkness. The Scriptures are clear in their description of the end. The words of the divine revelation leave little to the imagination. The picture presented is profane, grotesque in its portrayal of the final moments of His demise, intended for the redemption of humanity.
How many times have we read the account? Not that we would ever, out of religious habit, take for granted the detail recorded in the divine Word, but for a moment, perhaps we could entertain the possibility that the scenario itself is misunderstood. Could it be that our subconscious secretly ponders the scene in terms of a reality from which we are removed by time and distance? The fact that we were not there might soften our perception. The fences that hedge understanding of the deepest things of God are the same barriers that blur our intellectual and emotional vision of a simple and profound possibility…Jesus died of a broken heart.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Of the few words of record spoken by Jesus on the cross, it is this statement recorded by the gospels that continually perplexes the theologians of history. It is a question wrought with serious implication, our interpretation of which bears the weight of confounding ramifications. I confess that I possess no pretense of proper understanding of things known presently only in the mind of God. To claim relevant knowledge of what Jesus actually experienced in death is an exercise in arrogant speculation. But in our continual, God inspired thirst for insight, the questions must be asked, even if the answers evade us. We need to understand, if for no other reason than to satisfy our hunger to fully know Jesus, even as we are known; to become intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving the wonders of who He is and to share in His sufferings, embracing and taking into our very being the power of His resurrection. Somewhere within the questioning, transformation begins.
Lord, what did You feel on that day? Please help us understand. We only know what we ourselves have felt in times of abandonment. We too have been rejected by those we once thought loyal. We have been betrayed by friends and cast aside on a whim. We have known hopelessness and have called to You in desperation, clinging to shaky faith in hopes that You had not turned Your face away from our pitiless dilemma. In the midst of these valleys, Lord, our lonely path has taken us back to You, always to You, because we believe that You have experienced the grief of eternity’s children. In our faithlessness we long to know our lives are known by You and not forgotten.
We can only imagine the depth of Your sorrow on that day, Lord. Our personal experience speaks to the gulf of sin that separates us from God. And yet, we stumble in our understanding of the possibility that You were separated from the Father as well. It seems illogical to us. We struggle to comprehend the complexity of thought required to imagine that a sinless man could be made sinful in order to atone for our sinfulness, but Your Word (You are the Word) tells us that You took upon Yourself all that pulled us away from the Father. Your death that day was responsible for our reunification, for the restoration of creation’s ideal. It is indeed a mystery that the unifier would suffer rejection at the will of the one who by right calls all of creation back to Himself. Was there another way?
No, there is no other way. The rebellion of mankind is well documented. We have become all that is antithetical of our creator. Our proper fellowship with God was severed in the garden by the simple exercise of disobedient freedom. The broken union needed to be restored. The energy of that restoration could only be provided by One who, before the cross, knew no separation from the Father. In a single act the sin for which we were responsible was placed upon the guiltless One. Our roles were reversed. We were justified, He was convicted. We were reconciled, He was exiled. We were forgiven, He was condemned. He became what we once were and the Father turned away from the hideous sight. When a man becomes all that is opposed to the holy character of God, the only outcome can be agony. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The story does not end there. We believe, Lord, it is love that makes these things possible. You love us… He loved us…the triune one loves us! You call us to receive our healing through the One who willingly took our disgrace upon Himself, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
By Major Barry Corbitt