Jesus’ Cry from the Cross and Hope for Today
A glance at the morning headlines may cause you to experience some level of anxiety and discouragement. For instance, the Supreme Court will soon be wading into the deep waters of laws regarding abortion. Politicians continue their extreme rhetorical wrangling regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and border security. And a major trial in Minnesota involving racism will likely garner the biggest headlines around the nation in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Christians around the world have an eye on Easter. I believe that this week of observing Christ’s death and resurrection comes at a perfect time in 2021. Could it be that one of the most crucial and telling cries from Jesus’ crucifixion experience helps us to understand the greater meaning of the cross and its application to our hurried and panicked culture?
Mark the Gospel writer tells us that Jesus made a loud shout around 3pm on Good Friday, just a few minutes short of his death. Jesus yelled, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Our Lord’s statement not only confused the crowd gathered at Calvary that day, but it continues to cause a bit of head scratching even now. What did Jesus mean by this? A brief glance at the context helps a great deal.
Jesus’ cry from the cross did not happen as a spur of the moment sort of thing. Even through the horrific physical and emotional pain in the moment, Jesus’ statement invokes the Old Testament—Psalm 22 to be exact. Psalm 22 is one of lament, an expression of exhaustion or exasperation for those who experience abandonment and deep hurt. Jesus essentially shouted from Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross as a primary way of not only describing the crucifixion experience but also driving home a candid point. If one were to read further in Psalm 22 than just the one verse quotation from Jesus, then they would find that the psalm, while beginning on a sour note, ends with a chorus of victory. The Psalmist felt utterly abandoned but soon discovered that God was present all along! God will always have the last word. He begins with complaint but ends with recommitting himself to being confident in God’s power and purpose. In quoting a part of this Psalm, Jesus was reminded and teaching us even then about the whole of the true gospel. God is faithful and will save us!
Isn’t it something that Jesus turned to the Bible for comfort when he needed it the most on the cross? His cry does not mean that God abandoned him. Why would Jesus cry out to God if he believed that God wasn’t there? Jesus’ shout from the cross indicates complaint for sure, but it also indicates that Jesus was placing his faith ultimately in the One who would have the last word. After crucifixion, there would be resurrection.
If life is confusing, discouraging, or anxiety provoking to you today, then keep your eyes focused on the cross and empty tomb. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Jesus exemplified on the cross what it means to know that God truly has not forsaken you, even when it seems like He is a universe away. Let’s express our faith and hope in the Lord today, for God is mighty to save and able to lift us out of the mire.