read | mark 15:33–34
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
In the Gospel of Mark, there is nothing that prepares us for this shocking cry we hear from Jesus’ mouth, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Wow! No wonder the other evangelists chose different utterances to focus on: “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit” (Luke) and “It is finished” (John). But Jesus’ utterance from Mark’s Gospel is a little like “fingernails on the chalkboard.” It’s painful. It’s abrasive. It’s uncomfortable.
Craig A. Evans notes that Jesus’ faith in never in doubt, as the twofold address, “My God, My God” implies. But what is without question is the abandonment Jesus feels. Jesus is quoting from Psalm 22. Many believe He had the whole Psalm in mind, which has a more optimistic ending, but it’s important that we do not minimize the sense of abandonment Jesus felt at this moment.
Abandonment. Pain. Disappointment. Doubt. We really have a hard time with these things, yet what is undeniable is that we all experience these realities in our lives. We spend so much time trying to numb or ignore these realities, rather than admitting they exist. Deep down, we think that if we acknowledge our fears, doubts, and abandonment that we will not be viewed as “good Christians” or we will be labeled as having a “weak faith.”
What if we are missing out on a crucial part of the process? What if, by not acknowledging our “forsakenness,” we miss out on a huge aspect of redemption and restoration?
I love how Jesus embraced it. I loved that when this moment came, (one in which He had talked about during His entire ministry) He fully embraced it, felt it, and lived it. He didn’t sit there on the cross and say, “Hey guys. I knew this was coming, so don’t worry. Turn your scars into stars.” Ugh, disgusting.
No. He identified it. He called it what it was. He experienced the loss to the fullest!
I don’t know how you come into this Lenten season. Maybe this last year, month, week, or day has been terrible? Maybe you have been faithful and dedicated to following God, but yet you find yourself “crucified” by life and work? Maybe you’ve had your heart betrayed or “ripped out” by a lost love? Maybe sadness and tragedy have found their way into your life, even when they were not invited?
I don’t know. There may or may not be an explanation.
My hope is that we would identify with Jesus, the One who felt and experienced full abandonment. I hope that deep within our souls we would echo the words of abandonment, but not lose faith: “My God, my God.”
And just as Jesus “cried out in a loud voice,” rather than go down with a gasp or a whimper, I pray that our hope in the God of Jesus Christ would not give up easily.
Reflect on some of the tough times you have had, either in the last year or in your life.
Do you feel like you have experienced the full emotions of those tough experiences? Explain.
How might Jesus’ words encourage us both now and in the future when it comes to feeling abandoned?
- RO Smith