I told you I have had two responses from people related to the significance of the saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani // My God My God, why have you forsaken me?” As you can see from the parallel segments above, Matthew and Mark are the ones who record this for us. Luke omits this statement of Jesus on the cross. Ordinarily I would not cover it because my focus is Luke, but because two Gems readers have specifically asked about this verse which Luke omits I will address it. Yes you too can influence what I write about in the Gems. Talk to me.
Jesus clearly made this statement at the end of the darkness around 3.00 pm. Now that is interesting isn’t it? How many of us make similar statements when we at our lowest ebb. After three hours of darkness and abandonment by God the Father, Jesus utters these words ‘My God, my God’ why have you forsaken me?” The classic response or interpretation to this statement of Jesus on the cross is that Jesus’ human frailty is coming out here. All sorts of people interpret this through the eyes of their own abandonment. Therefore as one questioner asked me, “I have struggled with this a long time, people suggest Jesus had doubt, lack of faith ….” Nonsense.
The second person asked me, “Ian, why is this such a big deal? Jesus knew He was going to be resurrected in three days time. So why does He seem to be in despair? God knows what is going to happen . . . Jesus knew what was going to happen. I don’t understand why Jesus would utter these words. Of course He was not forsaken.”
Most of us realise that Jesus is quoting the Psalm 22:1 here. Most of us look at that verse and think, “Oh yes Jesus is quoting Psalm 22.” But we don’t do much more than that. Or if we do look it up, we compare the verse quoted to see if it was accurate. But that is all. I have told you before, in Beth Talmud, the student learned to rightly interpret the Word of God. Often when quotes are taken from the Old Testament the verse quoted is not what is in focus. The verse is only used at a sign post to the whole. In fact the Rabbis often deliberately didn’t quote the verse they were pointing to but often the verse beside it. They used it as an elliptical way of making their point. Or they were simply using that verse to remind their hearers or their readers of the whole passage.
So, READ THE QUOTE IN CONTEXT.
Here then is the whole context.
For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people. All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance. Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.
I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.Psalm 22:1-31
Examine the context. I think you will find it revealing. Especially so when you see the contents of the Psalm. In the next Gem I will look at the various interpretations that people place on these words of Jesus then I will apply Deeper Bible principles to this quote and other things. I am not sure how long it will take to cover this non-Luke issue. But I do it because you asked. I assume two people are expressing the questions of many more of you. Notice too that there was confusion at the time Jesus made this statement on the part of those who heard it.
Seemingly there was compassion and there was skepticism among those who first heard Jesus utter those words. Many of His hearers didn’t understand His purpose in what He was saying. Why would it be any different now after two millennia? I imagine the confusion and the mixed reactions would grow.
Watch this space, but better yet, do some investigation of you own. Don’t forget to ask your questions.
The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.Oprah Winfrey
Early on in my life, I had a broken soul. I was abused by my father, abandoned by my mother and ended up in a destructive first marriage. By the time I was 23, I was broken in my soul. But God stepped into my life, and I came out on the other side and didn’t even smell like smoke.Joyce Meyer
My whole life I’ve had the fear that I was going to be abandoned.Halle Berry
So my question: Why did God abandon Jesus? Isn’t that the fear in many of us, that if God could abandon Jesus, then He might abandon me?Ian Vail