“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Have you ever had something to say, but not enough time to say it? Have you ever had something to say, but not enough energy to get it out?

I have experienced this very thing many times at countless deathbed scenes. The one dying, is dying. Each breath is labored, each gasp of air is precious. The end is near, time and energy are running low. Sometimes, the only words that can be spoken or formed silently with the lips are simply “I love you.”

There is more to say, but those at the deathbed may need to read between the lines.

Jesus was dying on the cross. It was Good Friday, and the words Jesus uttered were carefully chosen. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That simple statement speaks volumes—certainly much more than the ten words themselves.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Nine words this time. Was Jesus doubting? Was Jesus despairing? Was Jesus angry or feeling betrayed?

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus could not manage many more words than nine at this point of the journey. So, he quoted the first nine words of Psalm 22. The Jewish people around the cross would have recognized them immediately. The Romans, not so much. By quoting Psalm 22, Jesus was, in fact, referencing the entire Psalm. Psalm 22 starts with this anguished cry to heaven. Listen now to the ending of the Psalm:

“The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.”

By quoting the first nine words of Psalm 22 from his deathbed, Jesus was quoting it all. “He has done it.” “It is finished.” It was a cry of completion, the mission was accomplished, future generations will be told, I shall not die but live.

At the end of the evening this Thursday night, the Altar will be stripped, and Psalm 22 will be read. In the midst of the passion there is hope. In the midst of darkness there is light. When all seems lost, Jesus points to promise.

“My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?”

My love to you,

Pastor Jim