Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Did God Forsake Jesus?

In previous posts, I've referred to my friend Joe's sick sense of humor. I couldn't tell with his most recent comment if he asked in earnest, or if he wanted to teach me something new with questions. Joe, if that's the case, how very rabbinical of you.

He asked, "I'm curious, if Jesus didn't question the Father's love EVER, why did he say, 'My God, My God why have you forsaken me?'?"

This question has haunted lots of Christians with a chilling thought: Did God really turn away from Jesus? Did Jesus experience fear or doubt during the crucifixion?

We all know I'm not a certified theologian. I have plenty to learn about God and His word. But I want to suggest an answer to this question.


I don't think Jesus was asking God this question because he doubted or because God had actually forsaken His son.

First, consider how many times Jesus heard this phrase, "If you are the Son of God, then..." Satan said this when tempting him in the wilderness. The people asked this of Jesus when they wanted him to give a sign proving his claims. Some witnessing the crucifixion said it when they told him to come down off the cross.

In Luke 4:9-12, when Satan tempts Jesus to prove God's love for him, Jesus recites Deuteronomy 6:16 and says, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."

Throughout the Gospels, people asked Jesus to show them a sign. In Luke 11, Jesus responds by rebuking their request. Then he teaches them the meaning of Jonah, how it was a foreshadowing of his death and resurrection. Again, I see this pattern. People ask for proof, Jesus responds with scripture to declare his trust.

Finally, people passing by during Jesus' crucifixion call out in Matthew 27:40, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!"In verse 46, Jesus recites the opening line of Psalm 22, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" But this is a Psalm of trust. David expresses pain and feelings of desolation, but then says, "Yet you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame."

And after this, Luke 23:46 reports Jesus saying, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" To me, this doesn't sound like someone who felt forsaken. It sounds as if Jesus trusted in God throughout the ordeal.

And what does this mean for us? If Jesus suffered worse than any of us in crucifixion and taking on the burden of all our sin, is it ever acceptable for us to give in to despair? Should we agree or disagree with Hebrews 13:5 when it says God will never leave or forsake us?

I'm sure there are more questions. I'm sure there is clearer explanation. But maybe this is a good start.


Joe said...

LOL. I honestly disagree. I think he could have prayed "Into your hands I commit my spirit" and "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
I think it proves doubt isn't bad. It's not the panacea that some want to make it but it's real and honest. As I said before, I am not sure that your position allows for doubt. IF no doubt can be allowed, there isn't much room for honest faith, IMO.
A simple reading of the Text does not lend itself to your interpretation, which may not mean anything.
I don't believe your conclusions can logically flow from your proposition either. Could Jesus have doubted and trusted at the same time?
You seem to be saying that doubting is the same as giving in. That's not logical. I've been afraid to hook up to a zip line but I've done it because the job required it. I've had many thoughts...that did not control my actions.
I don't see how you can read the text and say that Jesus didn't mean what He said.
I also don't think that if he meant what he said, that it naturally follows that He was suddenly not trusting God.

Isaiah Kallman said...

It's true, I think doubt and trust are opposed. I don't t that's too far-fetched a statement.

But I want to ask you a question. Do you suppose Jesus wasn't referring to Psalm 22?

Joe said...

I think Psalm 22 was referring to Jesus.
I see doubt as a state of mind, trust as an action.

Joe said...

Doubt/trust are analogous to Fear/Courage IMO.
One is a reaction, the other is defined by choices I make.

Isaiah Kallman said...

I hope you're not offended when I tell you your first response reminded me of Yakov Smirnoff. "In Mother Russia, reference makes you!" What a country!

Joe said...

Been a long time since I've been offended.