I had the privilege of participating in a Good Friday service at my church today. The service focused on the 7 lasts words of Jesus. I was assigned the words;
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
I tried to read some of it from my paper and freestyle some it. Yea, it made me feel like a was learning to drive a stick shift, i got where i wanted to go but it was shaky and a little to stop and start. I should have just made an outline like i always do, Oh well.
Here are the thoughts i wrote out going into the meditation.
I feel like these thoughts are challenging and thought provoking. At least that’s what they were for me.
“My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?”
(read Matthew 27:32-53)
Complexity and mysterious seems to be at their peek in this moment where God is crucified, fully present and hanging on a tree but at the same time, absent, turning His face from the sin being assumed by Jesus. We could theorize for weeks and years at this point but today isn’t a day for that, it simply a day to re-tell the story and ponder the words of Jesus.
In the middle of one of the hardest times in my life, when it seems like my world was imploding, The people I called family had abandoned me, I leaned into the Psalms and found one that lamented with me, that asked the questions I was asking and sought God in a way I was trying seek God.
The Psalms I leaned into begged the question, “what are the right sacrifices? These Psalms asked for Mercy, deliverance, and vindication as many of the them do. They asked for God to lead as He had in the past even though it seemed like He might not be anywhere to found.
I leaned into these songs and prayers because they echoed what my Soul felt, what I was longing for and they resonated with my circumstances.
In the middle of Jesus’ darkest moment and paradoxically the moment he was glorified or lifted the highest, he to leans into the Psalm, Psalm 22.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?”
Jesus is asking God, with as honest gasp and familiar prayer from the scriptures, “Father God, Where are you!”
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open the bodies of the many holy people who had died were raised to life.
Kinda wild right?!?!
It’s in these cosmic moment that all has gone dark, as if everything, if only for these few moments has disappears and in it’s reemergence all of history has shifted. There is something different… There is a new nexus to all of human history, everything that happen before, we now know, wasn’t just linear history but it was a string of moments leading up to this moment. And everything that happens after this moment is situated in reference to this moment.
Human history no long has a beginning and an end. It has a middle.
History has been reoriented and it’s new center is the cross of Christ.
And as dark as this is, we find our self wanting to call this moment good news, and celebrate this dark day as, good Friday. A tension at best and mystery for sure.
And it’s in this central moment in human history that we find Jesus leaning into the Psalms, wondering where the father is, despairing maybe but hurting for sure!
And it’s also in this central moment in human history that we find our greatest fear and our greatest hope.
Our greatest fear is that God has or will abandoned us. If he was ever there in the first place.
Our greatest hope is that, this isn’t the end of the story for Jesus or for us. That in suffering there is hope, that this is really just a new center, a new beginning of sorts.
So where was God?
Will Willimon says; “It’s on the cross where we see the complexity of the way that this God saves us, the curious way in which God is with us.”
God didn’t save Jesus from the cross but he schemed of a way to make this event one that nobody would ever forget about, God schemed of a way for this horrific event of the cross, this political statement that was being made, he schemed of how he would subvert it’s message and proclaim a different statement, a statement of hope and victory.
It’s in this forth word from Jesus that we realize God is not like us humans and he does things very differently than we would want him to do things. Afterall, that’s why Jesus is on the Cross in the first place, right.
Willimon also says,
“We ask Jesus to stand up and act like God and he just hangs there.”
God chooses not to use coercion but love, service and self-sacrifice because they are his way.
It’s in our greatest darkness that God schemes of a way to subvert the message of despair that is being proclaimed in our lives and in our circumstances and to proclaim hope. He schemes and dreams of ways to bring light out of our darkness, and hope out of our despair, how to proclaim good news from all the moments of bad news we find ourselves living
And we remember that on all the Fridays of our lives, when with Jesus we want to say, “God where are you” maybe he is just hanging there, present and absent all at the same time, waiting for the sub-version of the story, of your story and ultimately His story to be proclaimed. After all Sunday isn’t far away.