WHAT'S THAT HE SAID?
He is RISEN! Hallelujah! Now what?
So here we are… just days after Resurrection Sunday. Aside from a few Easter remnants—leftover ham, half-eaten chocolate bunnies, and a laundry basket filled with pastel party clothes—Easter is behind us right? Time to get back to business.
But wait....shouldn’t our lives look a little different (maybe even profoundly different) the week after Easter?...after we have boldly claimed and proclaimed the astonishing, stupefying, mind-blowing Truth that Jesus Christ, Son of God, God Himself died for us and then rose from the dead! But that was two days ago. Time to get back to business as usual.
I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some inspiration about now… maybe even more so after Easter when, in the shadow of the Cross, the world around us returns to "normal."
"ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?"
Yes! That’s exactly what I needed to hear! The words of Jesus right before His death.
"MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
(Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, NASB)
I know… an odd choice for a spiritual boost. But if you were a Jew at the foot of the Cross in that dark, dark hour, you would not have heard a desperate cry to a callous God. You would have heard a reminder that Yahweh is sovereign and holy… that He is faithful to His people… that He is the Creator God who purposefully brings His children into the world. You would have been assured that despite the way things appear, the Lord is near and will deliver His people. And you would have heard that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures.
You see, when Jesus uttered, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me,” He was quoting Psalm 22:1. And He wasn’t proof-texting that verse to describe His personal feelings of abandonment. He was invoking the whole of Psalm 22 to testify to God's faithfulness.
If I say to you, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” what is your next thought? Most likely, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.” Right? We recognize Psalm 23 in the first verse, which triggers a recall of the whole psalm.
In the 1st Century, the Psalter (The Book of Psalms) served as a worship hymnal for the Nation of Israel. Jews were intimately familiar with all of the psalms and could recall any psalm with just a few words. So, when Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 from the Cross, the entirety of Psalm 22—all 31 verses—would have come to mind for those watching Him die...friends and foes. And they would have recalled a song of confidence and hope in the Lord as Psalm 22 volleys human despair back and forth with divine Truth.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning…. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”
“But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people…. Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts.” (verses 6-9)
Additionally, this exquisite Psalm of David is a Messianic Psalm… prophesying the very scene of the Crucifixion a thousand years prior to Christ’s death.
“All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him." (verses 7-8)
“I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”
Quoting from Psalm 22, Jesus is telling us that Yahweh is a Promise Keeper, and the promise of a Savior is fulfilled in HIM! Read it… all of it. See the Messianic promise fulfilled in Christ. Recognize that Jesus’ final words were about hope, not despair and abandonment (despite the appearance of such). Embrace the promise of a coming kingdom that will overcome ALL suffering and unrighteousness. Jesus’ words, “My God, My God, Why have You Forsaken Me,” were intended to encourage believers who were watching their Lord die, and to terrify persecutors who would see an empty tomb. Today, they inspire us to not only rejoice in His Resurrection, but to live victoriously through His Word in the day-to-day.
Now that’s a message that will preach every day after Resurrection Sunday.