My God, my God...
"My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" These well-known words from Jesus form, as I’m sure you all know, the opening line of Psalm 22. I’ve always been fascinated by the appearance that the Psalm as a whole forms a poetic outline for the passion narratives in the gospels.
"all who see me mock me" v. 7
"many bulls encircle me" v. 12
"my mouth is dried up" v. 15
"a company of evil doers encircles me" v. 16
"they divide my clothes" v. 18
But then, after verse 18 the close connection seems to stop. Petitions begin again. The hopelessness of v.2 ("I cry by day but you do not answer") becomes the assurance of v.24 ("he did not hide his face…but heard when I cried).
v. 25 begins a few stanzas of praise which lead into a wonderful picture of the future reign of God and all the families of the nations worshipping before the Lord.
In some study of the atonement, I’ve found it helpful to consider that Jesus may have been referring to Psalm 22 in it’s entirety and not simply expressing anguish or forsakeness. This interpretation seems to me to fit with Jesus’ other words. Namely, "it is finished." That is, the work that was required to turn people to the Lord is now finished. This, in the end, is what makes Good Friday…good!!
Of course, an initial objection is that Jesus no longers experiences everything we do if he has not experienced being forsaken by God. To that, my only response is that is precisely what sets Jesus apart from us. Even in the midst of what appears to be a forsaken situation, Jesus’ trust holds firm in the Lord.
I wonder, as we approach Good Friday, how these words, this Psalm, fit into the emerging, narrative interpretation of the gospels and God’s reign for today.