At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We love to talk about the weather. It impacts the way we feel about any given day. Anybody remember last weekend? Yuck. Writers often use the weather in a scene to shape the mood. Again, the weather impacts us. The extreme form of this in literature is the pathetic fallacy, where inanimate objects, often the weather, are attributed emotions and thoughts. Authors write so that the weather impacts the way we feel.
But the gospel writers aren’t playing any literary tricks as they capture this scene on a scroll. They aren’t trying to get us to react to the weather as Jesus cries out to the Father. In a stunning role reversal, the cosmos is commenting on the darkness of the moment. Everything is dark and pregnant with pain, poignantly pointing to the reality of what’s transpiring as Jesus hangs on the cross.
We have to remember who this is, because it makes his cry all the more shocking. This is Jesus Christ, God from God, light from light. He is Light from Light; but in this moment, only darkness abounds.
And so he cries out and says what the clouds and wind are saying as they themselves react to the light of the world hanging on a cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsake me?”
His cry is the opening verse of Psalm 22. The Psalm so vividly captures the day’s events, I’m sure if the Psalmist realized the full scope of what the Holy Spirit was saying, it would have sent chills down his spine. Jesus knows the Psalm ends in victory, just like he already knows that this moment, though dark, isn’t the end. He will prevail, rising victorious. But here, and I don’t know exactly how to get my mind around this, there is little doubt that Jesus knew anything other than forsakenness.
And those are pretty common words we’ve all thought or uttered ourselves, aren’t they? “Where are you God? ” “You’ve left me.” And we really feel that way. The rug is pulled out from underneath us and we begin unraveling when things go awry. In those moments, it’s very easy to point the finger at God. “You did this to me.” “I’m mad at you, God.” It’s because we feel forsaken. But the reality, just as all of nature attested to that day, is that Jesus really was forsaken. He was forsaken so you and I never would be. Abandoned so we would never have to experience the objective reality of forsakenness. It happened in this moment so that we could know God’s presence for eternity, no matter what our circumstances caused us to feel.
He was forsaken so that you would never be.