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Reflecting on Good Friday

When I was younger I had a problem understanding a major verse of the Bible. The verse that bothered me came when Jesus spoke in Matthew 27:46. He said, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” The provided translations really struck me as odd. In the English Standard Version of the Bible just next to the words the rest of the verse says, “…that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” As a young man I thought the plea was a sign of surrender, giving up and lost hope on the part of Jesus. To me, as a young Christian, I thought many times, why would Jesus say this? It’s almost as if He was expecting God to save Him at the last moment or take Him off the cross? The Bible goes on to explain that those standing near the cross thought that Jesus was calling out to Elijah (Matthew 27:47). So, it appeared to me that confusion was not only present in my reading, but also in the understanding of the people there that day. At times when I read it, I felt that Jesus had truly expected a different outcome. At the time He was very close to death. The plea seemed to me to be a question to God, a wondering thought, of “Why didn’t You come save me from this death?” As I would learn later when I grew in my Christian walk, the verse and the plea had a much deeper meaning and one that we as Christians should not only cherish, but be thankful that we will never experience. As Christians, no matter what trials, tribulations, or even potential death we face, we will never face it alone. God is always with us as we are promised in Hebrews 13.5 and several other places we are told that He will never leave us or forsake us. This means that even in the worst of times we will not be alone. The meaning of Jesus’ cry though is that at the moment He was about to die, the time He should have needed God the most, God was not there. This may be shocking to think that God would turn His back on His own Son, but that is exactly what happened when Jesus cried out. For the first time in Jesus’ life, He felt no connection to God the Father. In Jesus’ own words, God had “forsaken” Him. He had left Jesus completely and utterly alone on the cross to finally die in agony and pain. The connection to God that had been so strong all His life simply vanished. Jesus, perhaps for the first time ever, was completely alone. It was so torturous to Him that it caused Him to cry out. The Romans had beat Him, humiliated Him, and were in the process of crucifying Him, but through all that He knew God was with Him. Now, suddenly, at the final moments when God should have been standing close in Jesus’ human heart and soul, God turned away. Jesus could not understand why at that moment and He cried out. It is something that we as Christians have been promised never to face – perhaps because it would be too horrible for us to stand. Continue Reading →

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