Summary: Jesus cries out from the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" He dies alone and forsaken so that we may never be.
We have come to the end of Holy Week. Since Palm Sunday, the tension between Jesus and both the religious and political authorities has built up. It came to a head on Thursday night when Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus was arrested and after a fake hearing was condemned to death.
At the foot of the cross, we stand. We ponder what is happening, why Jesus is hanging on that rough piece of wood and what he intends to accomplish. We are pulled out of the realm of our thoughts and back into reality when we hear Jesus cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!"
This should not be what happens to a Savior, or a Messiah.
We might be tempted to say that Jesus is a hero and that heroes may go where God must forsake them, but Jesus is no hero.
Heroes are usually people who are at the right place at the right time in order to do a courageous deed. A soldier fighting bravely and saving his buddies from death is a hero. A teenage girl who saves a toddler by pulling him out of a pool and giving him CPR is a hero. A hero is a person who pushes and elderly person out of the path of a speeding car only to be struck himself.
Heroes receive medals and citations. Heroes are celebrated and lifted up as examples to be emulated. Crowds surround heroes. Heroes don't die alone, suffering through a hideous execution called crucifixion. Jesus was not hero.
A hero's actions are spontaneous, Jesus' actions were intentional.
Matthew repeatedly links Jesus' actions to words from the Old Testament prophets. Jesus actions have been foretold. They are not accidental nor are they spontaneous. Jesus' actions are planned and intentional.
Jesus is not trapped or tricked by the religious and political authorities. He did not fall into their hands. Even his betrayal and his betrayer were known to him before hand.
Jesus is hanging on the cross, forsaken by God because that is what happens to be who threaten the political establishment and the religious institution.
Jesus is forsaken because that is the cost of his love.
Except for Jesus' prayer that the Father forgive those who are executing him because they do not know what they are doing, the forgiveness of sins is not the focus of the cross.
• The cross and forsakenness is the path of love.
• The cross if the result of faithful obedience to God's will.It isn't caused by God, but it is often the reaction of the world to a faithful and loving witness.
• The cross is the path to a renewed relationship with God. The temple curtain was torn in two. There is now nothing that separates us from God.
• The cross is the inclusive work of God. The Gentiles are the first to recognize that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus was forsaken--left alone in a place were God was not present--so that we will never be in that situation. Jesus was forsaken so that we might walk boldly knowing that there is nothing in all of creation that is able to separate us from the love of God.