On Good Friday morning I rolled out of bed and hopped into the shower getting myself ready to go out for lunch and fellowship with a few of my friends. As I allowed the warm water to wash over me my heart filled with a prophetic song of worship:
The cross gives light to a weary world
He chose the cross – hung there for all to see
He hung up there for you and me
to give us Grace & Mercy
Sing a song of His love
Sing a song of His glory
He is glorious upon that cross
He only thought of us.
My initial thought was I need to write this down. So I kept on singing the song over and over as I washed the soap out of my hair, hopped out of the shower and dried off. I slipped back into my pajamas and went out to grab a small paper journal I keep in my purse and fished a pen out of the cavernous pockets on the side.
I sat in my comfy gold living room chair and began to write. As I did I heard the Lord whisper, Remember when I asked you if I’m selfish?
I smiled. “Yes, four years ago after I had attended Good Friday Communion where we heard the story of that night you suffered more than 2,000 years ago.”
Do you remember what I showed you?
“And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup [a]pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’” – Matthew 26:39 (AMP)
If it is possible... Yes, I remember. You asked me if you were selfish, and I answered no.
Why did I ask you that question? Because every time I have heard a teaching on you in the Garden of Gethsemane I understood that your suffering there was selfish in nature. You were thinking of having yourself spared the suffering you were going to endure.
But… You are not selfish. Jesus is not selfish by nature. He is God, selfless in nature.
So what did I show you? Jesus is not selfish – He is selfless. He was not thinking of Himself or what He would suffer upon the cross. He was thinking of us.
What else? You reframed the question you asked Father for me. I had been taught that “If You are willing…” meant you were pleading Your cause. But as I read the Amplified version I saw “If it is possible…” As if you were saying, “If there is any other way…”
You were pleading the cause of mankind. The cup of wrath or judgment you were about to face was reserved for mankind.
Thus says the Lord, your Master,
your God, who defends his people:
See, I am taking from your hand
the cup of staggering;
The bowl of my wrath
you shall no longer drink.
If you were not selfish, then in that moment you were not asking Your Father to spare You from the pain of suffering the cross, or even the cup of judgment. You were asking if it was possible that all of mankind would never suffer the wrath of His judgment again. If there be any other way… A way where not one person would reject the promised salvation that would come through the cross. You were not willing that any would perish, but You knew they would. You were asking the Father for another way – but in the end You knew that His will would be done.
I recently posted the quote above in bold on my Facebook page, and then yesterday morning the conversation continued…
I began to reflect on the day of the cross. The day of death for Jesus. I saw Him hanging there, suffering immeasurably and I saw the moment we’ve all read and heard a hundred times over in our Sunday school classes, our Bible studies, our pastors in their Easter Sermons, and in our yearly Bible readings. The same words David recorded as he, himself, cried out to God in Psalm 22:1:
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So on Good Friday morning, as I wrote out my thoughts here is what came to me… But, If I am not selfish, could it be this statement means something more than what you’ve been taught?
Yes, Lord. Tell me more…
Could it be you have missed the bigger picture of redemption?
Could it be the Father did not leave the Son alone on the cross, but rather suffered with Him for our sake as any good father would?
I’d been taught this is the moment God the Father turned His back on the Son. But, there is nothing in Scripture that says the Son and the Father were separated at this moment. Nothing that says that God the Father turned His face away from the agony of His Son.
Eleven and a half years ago my 17 years old son went home to be with the Lord, he died. That day, as we sat waiting the outcome of tests to determine if he still had brain function I paced the halls all day waiting for the moment I could be near him again. I did not want him out of my sight for one minute. But, they took him at 9:00 am and kept him in testing for the better part of the day. It was 4:30 pm when I returned to his room and found him laying stone still as he had been for eight days prior to this moment. I looked at the monitor and realized a moment of truth was coming. The brain pressure number on his vitals monitor that are normally between 7-10 and had been at 126 that morning were now showing 16. My heart swelled with hope and then sank with despair. I stayed in that room right by his side as the nurse came in and said they believed his brain hemorrhaged somewhere between the CAT Scan and getting him back to the room. I did not leave his side as the doctor came in and said they would be disconnecting life support and that it was now certain the machines were the only thing keeping his body alive. I did not leave as the respiratory therapist came in and disconnected the ventilator and we watched his pale white face, with its freckles and peachy life turn an alarming shade of blue. I did not turn my face away – but I watched until I was able to lay my head upon his chest and know for sure it was no longer beating.
If I as a broken and flawed, sinning woman cannot bear to part with my child in his death – How much more would our Father in Heaven be unable to part with His Beloved Son in His death. I do not believe He turned away. This is my belief – not meant to establish doctrine, but I cannot find anything that supports the fact that God the Father turned away from the Son and failed to experience the wrath of His own judgement with Him.
Could it be? Follow me as I think it through… Come, Let Us Reason Together:
We have only one record where David wrote these same words of anguish in Psalm 22 before Matthew 27 of these words being uttered by mankind. But, could it be that the heart’s of men and women have cried out throughout the ages before and after Christ? We have our own experiences.
Have you ever felt forsaken – utterly abandoned – by God because of the sins of others or your own sin?
As I pondered these things I felt the Lord reminding me of the Garden. There God created man and woman, lived among them, provided all they needed and more — He walked with them in the cool of the day.
Until… Sin came by way of the enemy’s lies and the knowledge of good and evil. Man and woman chose 1) not to trust God’s promises and their relationship with Him, and 2) defy the one thing He told them not to do.
Their reasons are not the issue – the rationale of their choices a mute point. THEY. DID. IT.
They sinned. They made a decision apart from God’s counsel.
Because of this choice they suffered:
- The knowledge of good and evil which is a curse all on its own. It feeds our sinful hearts with simultaneous doses of self-loathing and self-righteousness, but ultimately it made us self-aware.
- The fear, shame and guilt that caused them to hide themselves from God’s face. God stood and confronted them in the presence of their sin.
- The confrontation with God over their sin and as they did – they rationalized their disobedience.
- The promised death – not in a physical sense – but shut out of the garden, separated from their Creator, Father, Friend and Guide… The source of the only life they had ever known.
I think of God the Father’s response in “The Shack” that sin is its own punishment. Indeed, Adam and Eve would conquer.
I hear the heart of God asking, Can you see Adam with Eve covered in the garments I fashioned for them out of animals that had to be sacrificed to cover the consequences of their sin?
I’ve realized this before: God initiated the very first sacrifice to atone for sin with Adam and Eve. But, as I considered this anew, I realized, too, that Jesus as God initiated the final sacrifice to atone for sin that would ever be required. God began atonement and finalized atonement for sin. Everything else in between points us back to Him. He chose the cross. And if He is indeed omniscient, He knew the pain He would endure before He ever came to earth as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Picture Adam with Me…
Face to the ground, utterly forsaken by his own choices and, perhaps in this self-focused state, by the God he had walked so closely alongside. What must that have been like for Adam? What did this sobbing, wretch of a man say in those moments after God shut him out of the Garden he was created for?
Perhaps… Why? Perhaps… What have I done? Or maybe… Just maybe…
MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?
I hear God saying to my heart, If the person of Christ is truly REDEEMER, then every moment of His life, every act of His will, every truth revealed and ever word he uttered is REDEMPTIVE.
At the moment He cried out those words just before surrendering His Spirit He redeemed the most painful consequence of sin, to feel you’ve been forsaken by God – abandoned and left both separated and unprotected.
These questions are not doctrinal in nature, but relational. They are pencil sketching thoughts as I seek to walk in an abiding way with my God, my Savior and my Friend.
As I close, I will leave you with David’s words. The foreshadowing of Jesus on the cross. When He cried out these words while the Jewish leaders around Him mocked and spat upon Him – while they wished Him dead. They knew they had read these words before… They knew what they meant. They had crucified their Messiah.
The Prayer of an Innocent Person
1 For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.”[b] A psalm of David.
2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?
3 My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.
4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the glory of Israel.
5 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted and you rescued them.
6 To you they cried out and they escaped;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
7 [c]But I am a worm, not a man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.
8 All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:
9 “He relied on the Lord—let him deliver him;
if he loves him, let him rescue him.”
10 For you drew me forth from the womb,
made me safe at my mother’s breasts.
11 Upon you I was thrust from the womb;
since my mother bore me you are my God.
12 Do not stay far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
13 Many bulls[d] surround me;
fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
14 They open their mouths against me,
lions that rend and roar.
15 Like water my life drains away;
all my bones are disjointed.
My heart has become like wax,
it melts away within me.
16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue cleaves to my palate;
you lay me in the dust of death.[e]
17 Dogs surround me;
a pack of evildoers closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and my feet
18 I can count all my bones.
They stare at me and gloat;
19 they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots.
20 But you, Lord, do not stay far off;
my strength, come quickly to help me.
21 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth,
my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.
23 Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the assembly I will praise you:[f]
24 “You who fear the Lord, give praise!
All descendants of Jacob, give honor;
show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
25 For he has not spurned or disdained
the misery of this poor wretch,
Did not turn away[g] from me,
but heard me when I cried out.
26 I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
27 The poor[h] will eat their fill;
those who seek the Lord will offer praise.
May your hearts enjoy life forever!”
28 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord;
All the families of nations
will bow low before him.
29 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
the ruler over the nations.
30 [i]All who sleep in the earth
will bow low before God;
All who have gone down into the dust
will kneel in homage.
31 And I will live for the Lord;
my descendants will serve you.
32 The generation to come will be told of the Lord,
that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
the deliverance you have brought.
As you consider the things I have shared, the Scriptures that are highlighted. What is it the Holy Spirit is saying to you. May His blessings and His grace abound to you this Easter.