Understanding Christ’s death on the cross is never easy. In reality, we do not have the capability for a total awareness of its meaning and significance. But the above Scripture passage helps to give us some insights. For this extraordinary psalm is perhaps the clearest description found in the Bible of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a graphic photograph of our Lord’s last hours and a compelling record of His last words.
As CS Spurgeon wrote: "we should read [these words] reverently, putting the shoes from off our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there is ever holy ground in Scripture it is in this Psalm."
Looking at this Psalm, we are immediately struck with the distressing cry from the cross:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
(Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani)
Passionate and poignant, these are chilling words. For here the suffering Christ cries out to God, believing that He has been forsaken by Him, asking why He has been forsaken. Why is God silent? He receives no answer.
The greatest of theologians have wrestled with this question. How could Jesus, God incarnate, be forsaken by God? We can have no answer until the veil is lifted and we have crossed into Glory!
If we are honest, most people have asked this same question, sometimes over and over. But, in this case the sinless Christ was forsaken by His Father. And the teaching of the New Testament affirms the reality of this thory truth. God’s love for us was so great and the price Jesus paid so terrible, that our Lord endured this most horrible of afflictions. (See Isaiah 53:3)
In a sense, when we sin we become separated from God. But, only upon whispering the words of 1 John 1:9, that divide is instantly repaired. For the blood of Jesus "cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) But as verse 2 of Psalm 22 affirms, Jesus received no answer to His agonizing cry.
These words signify the nadir of the passion of Christ. Yet, they give us great hope. For when we feel that our prayers are not being heard, we know that, as in all things, Jesus felt it before us. But, Christ did not cease to pray. With faith and courage we must keep on asking the Father to help us in our time of need.
Last week, we labeled this Psalm, the "Song of the Cross" – and so it is. As we approach Holy Week, let this song lead you to "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.">2