The fourth word was always the hardest for me as a child. It continues as a haunting voice in my adulthood. The picture of the Jesus in pain feeling complete separation - even abandonment - from the Father is almost too much to bear. God the Son, Jesus, that has claimed the sin of the world separated from the purity and holiness of God the Father. It is a moment that the Trinity is strained - Jesus, fully God and fully human - confronted with the agony of isolation. It is tempting to see this moment as one that stretches how we perceive the nature of God - but it instead defines it. It paints the picture of a love so great that it can claim the depths of pain required to restore us to a right relationship with God. It shows us a redemption so powerful that it can draw those of us separated from God by sin to God's side as forgiven children of God. Hauerwas offers; "No, this is the Father's deliberately giving his Christ over to a deadly destiny so that our destiny would not be determined by death." (p63)
But, the cry of isolation of Jesus does not stand alone. It is critical to remember was we hear Jesus claim the beginning words of despair from Psalm 22 that we also hear the same Psalm ends with remarkable words of assurance and strength. The echoes of isolation give way to the song of praise. The cry gives way to rejoicing in a promise fulfilled and a people restored. Hear again from Hauerwas; "Cyril of Jerusalem observes that by calling on his Father as 'my God," Christ does so on our behalf and in our place. Hear these words, 'My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?' and know that the Son of God has taken our place, become for us the abandonment our sin produces, so that we may live confident that the world has been redeemed by this cross." (p65)
May we claim a grace so powerful that it bridges the abyss of abandonment so that we may be restored to a right relationship with God.
Grace and Peace, Tom