He has been abandoned, betrayed, let down, humiliated, misrepresented, beaten up, tortured, publicly stripped naked and rejected by almost everyone.
He asks God why He is forsaking Him.
Now there’s a time and place to talk about doubt and faith. That’s not what I want to examine today.
But in this moment, Jesus asks why. Again, associating Himself with us.
How often do we ask why suffering happens and get no answer?
How often when life gets disrupted and we suffer, or when we get rejected or abandoned, do we ask why and simply get silence?
The simple answer is that most of us have done this, at one time or the other. We’ve all had these moments.
Often, however, we always get the answer later.
Jesus, when He asks the question of why God has forsaken Him, is quoting the beginning of Psalm 22 knowing it’s ending:
“He has done it”
Jesus is trusting that God will take care of the ending of the story.
A common misconception about the cross is that Jesus somehow knew everything that was going to happen to Him, as fact. He didn’t need to trust God. He was Jesus, Son of God, divine, therefore He knew everything and was totally secure in the fact of what would happen. No problem, He had nothing to worry or be anxious about. The cross was easy for Him because He knew the ending.
This isn’t true.
Jesus didn’t know.
Now before you cry ‘heretic’, let me explain a bit more clearly.
Jesus didn’t know what was going to happen.
He trusted God.
Jesus on the cross is modelling something for us. He is trusting in resurrection.
Jesus trusts in the resurrection even though He doesn’t see the ending from where it is, He doesn’t see the end of the story, and the new beginning that comes because of it.
He simply trusts it.
He has holds on to the belief that even though He is abandoned and alone now, and death will come, that there is new hope, a new beginning. He puts His complete confidence in God that new life that will come through it, that His Father will use this suffering for good.
He surrenders Himself to God’s will.
Jesus in doing this not only sets an example for us, but He joins Himself with us. He associates Himself with us. He chooses to align Himself with us, to go through what all of us have to do all the time – even in the midst of our suffering. He has to trust God even in His darkest moment, the moment of His greatest pain, darkness and suffering, the moment He is most alone.
Just like we do.
When my Mother died, it was the darkest, most painful moment of my life. The time I felt most abandoned and alone. I fully admit that in that moment I wrestled with God. I didn’t understand how He could possibly use this for any good. I knew my Mum was with Him, but that didn’t ease the pain I was in at that moment.
But whether I knew it or not, Jesus understood my emotions completely. That’s because the reality is of the cross is that it allows Jesus to completely empathise with us, even in those moments.
Not because He’s divine and knows everything.
But because He’s experienced it first hand. He’s been there. He knows how it feels. He knows how difficult it is to trust God when things are at their darkest….
….and come through the other side.
It shows that even in the darkest valleys of our lives when God seems distant, that God can be trusted.
That He’s not distant and absent from our suffering.
He’s right in the midst of it, and He’s experienced it Himself.
The cross is a big telegraphed message from the creator to His created:
“You can trust me in your suffering.”
Do we believe that?