Don’t look away

“My God, my God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

‘The cross is about Jesus, the eternal son of God,
being forsaken by his Father.’

‘How great the pain of searing loss,
the Father turns his face away.’

‘One final breath He gave
As heaven looked away.’

‘The light of the world,
Abandoned in darkness to die.’

I love the depth of the cross. I love the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice. I love the certainty of ‘It is Finished!’ But I really struggle with the idea that the God who promised Israel, and all of Humanity (whom Jesus fully represents on the cross), “never will I leave you or forsake you” breaks that promise at the very moment Jesus needed it most.

And, as far as I can see, there is nothing in scripture that actually suggests God abandoned Jesus on the Cross. In fact it seems quite the opposite when the psalmist prophetically writes ‘you will not abandon me to the grave’ (Psalm 16:10).

Even in Jesus cry “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” there is hope. Those agonising words are the opening lines of Psalm 22.  And in feeling abandoned, he finds the fulfilment of God’s promise in v24….

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” – Psalm 22:24

What if the cross isn’t about forsaking, it’s about Father, Son and Spirit faithfully working together to bring healing and wholeness even in the most agonising of suffering?

What if, rather than turning his face away in the midst of our suffering, at the very moment we need him most, when we’re at our end and feel totally alone… our heavenly Father hears our cry for help and, by his Spirit, stands with us until it is finished? What if  it is when we are poorest and when we are persecuted that we find the King of Heaven standing up for his citizens (Matt 5:3 & 10 and Proverbs 31:8-9)?

If that is the case, we need better ways of describing what happened on the cross. We need new ways of expressing how our Heavenly Father relates to Jesus and to us, in his time of need and ours.

God said “never will I leave you or forsake you” and I believe my Heavenly Father honours his promises.

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