Holy Week 2013 – day 1

25 Mar

Ok, so Lent is over and Holy Week has started. During Holy Week I will be meditating on Psalm 22, called by Spurgeon The Psalm of the Cross, and trying to reflect both on what David is saying and how this psalm links to Easter.

Psalm 22:1-5
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

Having just finished reflecting upon Psalm 139, where David talks about God being inescapable and ever-present, it feels very strange to read the first verse and see David asking why God isn’t there. David says that he is crying out in pain, mental and emotional due to the feelings of being without God, and yet God still does not reply.
But it is not all dark, because he points out that in the past God has saved so there is always a chance of God saving again. But at the same time there is almost an accusation of “You saved them, why haven’t you saved me?”
This is a very interesting psalm as the words are very much like ours can be when we feel like the world is falling in around us and there is no way to stop it, when we feel at our lowest and far removed from God or when we see some of the terrible things that happen in the world and no way of fixing them. And we can be heard to cry out in our hearts “Where are you, God?” Because we just can’t see Him, even though we know at the same time that He is there.

Jesus knows the Father more intimately than we could ever know Him, and yet Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” (which translates as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”). Why? Because, at that moment, on the cross, Jesus felt separated from God.
Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) wrote:
When Christ complains of having been forsaken by God, we are not to understand that he was forsaken by the First Person, or that there was a dissolution of the hypostatic union, or that he lost the favour and friendship of the Father; but he signifies to us that God permitted his human nature to undergo those dreadful torments, and to suffer an ignominious death, from which he could, if he chose, most easily deliver him. Nor did such complaints proceed either from impatience or ignorance, as if Christ were ignorant of the cause of his suffering, or was not most willing to bear such abandonment in his suffering; such complaints were only a declaration of his most bitter sufferings.

So in crying out that God has abandoned Him, Jesus is expressing the pain and suffering of being on the cross.
Someone once described it to me as the connection between Father and Son being swallowed up by the sin of every person who has and will ever live coming to rest on Jesus, making it impossible for Him to feel the Father’s presence as he suffered the pain of the Cross. And even though, as Cardinal Bellarmine says, the Father could have easily have saved Jesus from all this, both He and Jesus willingly suffer this anguish for us. The Father willingly stands aside and watches His Son suffer for the world and the Son does not act with the power He has from being fully God and remains nailed to the cross and despairing at the feeling of abandonment that all our sin causes Him to feel.

Feeling that kind of pain is beyond our understanding, as we cannot have a relationship such as that between the Father and the Son, but if we think about the most physically painful thing we have ever experienced, add in the most mentally painful experience we have ever had and multiply them a thousand times we might have an inkling of what Jesus suffered as he cried out.
And what is most amazing is that He suffered it willingly, because He loves us that much!

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