A really common theme, one also spoken of and addressed in the movie “The Shack,” is the idea of God having abandoned Jesus Christ on the cross. The idea being that the wrath of God is poured out upon Him, He is completely alone, and He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This is not really an issue that has troubled me personally, it is not something that has given me grief, but I have heard it said many times, I have spoken to many non believers who refuse to believe in a God who would “abuse and abandon His own son.” There are always other deeply rooted issues within non belief, but that one misunderstanding is a common theme.
The mind, perhaps whispers from the enemy, will take us to some crazy places, will build an entire empire based on one false idea, one little lie. If God would do such a thing to His perfect son, what chance do I have? Add in some abuse history, that very real human fear of abandonment, and we now have revoked authority, “I refuse to believe in such a God.”
Our own innate, dare I say it, God-given sense of morality, at war with a bit of flawed thinking, unable to allow itself to be reconciled with a God who would abandon His own son. “I will never leave you or forsake you,” but some people fear that is exactly what God did to Jesus Himself.
This issue has kind of puzzled me, left me feeling sad for those trapped in a mindset of endless wrath and abandonment, so right on schedule, with that perfect timing, our Pastor pointed us to Psalm 22. It’s funny, I have read the bible through and through many times, unwrapped layers upon layers, but I never saw that piece, never made the connection myself.
Psalm 22 begins, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The very same words Jesus cries out on the cross. It’s a beautiful piece, prophetic in its analogies, its depiction of the crucifixion, “scorned by everyone, despised by the people,” “they pierce my hands and feet,” “they divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment,” “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.”
Jesus Christ is not abandoned to the wrath of God, He is not alone, He is not asking a question of God, He is quoting Psalm 22 and making a prophecy. God has not abandoned Jesus Christ at all, not even at the point of death. In fact, the precise opposite. Psalm 22 goes on to say,
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.
And victorious on the cross, it is a declaration, a statement of fact, a promise fulfilled, a prophecy come true, because Psalm 22 ends with,
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
He has done it! And today we celebrate, for He is risen indeed, seated in victory at the right hand of the Father. He has done it!