By Rev. Eric Brown
The world doesn’t understand the Cross. The world sees the cross and simply mocks – He saved others, He could not save Himself. The cross is seen as just a bitter, ironic end. The Man who feed thousands hangs haggard on a cross, the Man who healed countless numbers is displayed with wounds too dread to consider, the Man who raised the dead is condemned to death. Irony, that’s all the world can see. Even when our Lord speaks it forth – the world doesn’t get it.
Eli, Eli, Lama sabachtani? My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me? The beginning to Psalm 22. Christ, even in His agony, even in the midst of His passion, still shows such love profound, even to the very crowd that mocks Him and seeks His death. Turn to the Word, you people! Turn to the Word which you have learned and then you will understand. This isn’t just irony, this isn’t just a strange twist to the story – this is the salvation of God, this is Your salvation at hand. Hear the Word and see. King David spoke of what would happen to His Son – what the coming of your salvation, what the coming of David’s salvation would be.
And they don’t get it. Oh, He’s calling to Elijah. That’s ironic – because Elijah would have understood – Elijah had spoken with Him not too long before on the Mount of the Transfiguration about this precise moment, about this precise wonder. But the world beholds Christ the crucified and merely shrugs – maybe pauses, not to ponder the mystery of it all, but to fling a few insults. The same continues today. Eh, oh look, a dead Jew, what a wonderful reason to have a religion. And nothing is seen, nothing is understood.
My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Jesus teaches from the cross, so let us who are the students of Christ pause and ponder our Master’s question. Why is God forsaking Christ? Why would the Father let, indeed, why would the Father instruct His Son to go to the Cross, to bear this shame, to be humiliated in this way? So that He doesn’t forsake you. In your sins, you had forsaken God. This is what God taught through the pen and mouth of His servant David. In his sins, David had forsaken God – and he knew it. David describes the utter weight of His sin – he is mocked, he is taunted, the lions roar, his bones are pulled out of joint, even his heart melts like wax, and pours out of him like blood and water. David is given a moment of understanding of the weight of his sin, and he cries out for deliverance.
And God does do so. Yes David, I see that you have forsaken me, and you are paying the cost of your sin – I see it’s agony, I see it’s toil upon you. I won’t have it – I will not have My servant David suffer, like this. And then the words that Luther would have us sing happen.
God said to His beloved Son;
“It’s time to have compassion.
Then go, bright jewel of my crown,
And bring to all salvation.
From sin and sorrow set them free;
Slay bitter death for them that they
May live with Me forever.”
And so our Lord Jesus took on Human Flesh, was born David’s Son to take David’s place – to step into the breech of sin that David was in, to take His place. Our Lord cries, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And the answer is – “So that I do not have to forsake My son David, so that I do not have to forsake these, My Baptized children.” When it boils down to it, God chooses not His own Son, but He chooses you. And this is His choice, this is His wondrous and awesome will, made from all eternity. That God would have you be with Him – and nothing will stop God from being your God, from having you be with Him for eternity. Not sin, not death, not the power of Hell. Christ will go and pay that, so that you will truly be His brother for eternity. This is the wonder, this is God’s mind-boggling love. The death of Jesus is the death that was yours on account of sin – He is forsaken in your place, so that He might give you His life, life which never fades. All thanks be to God for His great love to us.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: April 9th, 2017