Matthew 26:14 -27:66; Palm Sunday
“And about three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli,Iema sabachthani?” which mean “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Did God the father abandon Jesus on the cross?
Everything I have been taught about God cries out, “No!” Just four months ago, we were singing about the birth of Emmanuel, the God-with-us. How can God forsake the Son who embodies his presence for us? The Son preached about the Shepherd who looks for the one lost sheep and the Father who never stops waiting for the prodigal children to come to their senses and return home. No, God is not a God who abandons.
So why did Jesus utter these words? Diving deeper into Scripture, one discovers that those words are actually the first verse of Psalm 22 – our Psalm today. This tells us that on the cross, Jesus was praying a Psalm which near the end proclaims, “For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, did not turn away from me but heard me when I cried out.” No, God is not a God who abandons.
But while Psalm 22 ends with great trust in God, it begins with great anguish. While God the Father may not have abandoned his Son, could Jesus have felt abandoned? Before Jesus arrived at those words of great trust, he did acknowledge great anguish. For us, is this not one of the most powerful ways to develop trust – to go through uncertainty and lost-ness? And perhaps the greater the anguish, the greater the trust can be?
Many times, I have been approached by people dealing with difficulties and facing challenges I also cannot make sense of. Many times, I hvae no answers and can only say, “God is with you still; God has not abandoned you.” But I cannot deny what these people feel and what I would also feel if I ever found myself in their shoes: abandoned.
Perhaps this part of the Good News in our Gospel today: When we feel abandoned, we can allow ourselves to cry out, “I feel abandoned! Where are you, God?” We do not have to hide our anguish from God. We can wail.
But in our darkness, can we also let in a sliver of light and whisper, “I know at least one time when Jesus could have felt the same way?” Then we can say he is truly Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Betsie ten Boom , the Dutch Christian who was imprisoned by the Nazis for helping Jews, died in a concentration camp uttering, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” Palm Sunday is when people waving fronds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Maybe this Palm Sunday can be an invitation for us to welcome Jesus into our anguish. Sometime this Holy Week, approach Jesus on the cross. As you see his anguish, remember all your anguish, too. Know that you are not alone. Maybe tell him He is not alone either,
**image from the Internet