“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!”

This was the “fourth word” from the cross.

Christ is recorded as saying seven things from the cross, and this was the fourth.

Matthew 27:46 (New International Version)

46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I have always heard this as Christ expressing the anguish of being on the cross, and God “forsaking” him in these last moments of his life.  I have heard it said that it was necessary for God the Father to turn his back on Jesus as the payment for the sins of all men rested on him.

But what if that isn’t what this meant?  What if Christ was thinking of the fullness of the scripture he began?  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the first line of Psalm 22:

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel. [a]

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me [b] in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced [c] my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save [d] me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you [e] will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

This starts off as a cry for help, but David (the author of this psalm) does not despair, for he knows that, in the end, God will prevail.  What if this was going through Christ’s mind in this moment.  We often sing or pray or quote scripture or some motivating verse in times of trouble and pain.  What if this song of victory in the depth of darkness was in the mind of Christ, and the cry from his lips the expression of victory even in this seemingly darkest hour? “FOR HE HAS DONE IT!”

“It is finished.”

“29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.”

He died.  But he rose again from the grave. And future generations have been told about the Lord. They do proclaim his righteousness. FOR HE HAS DONE IT! He rose and conquered.

To God be the Glory.

May you find victory in the darkness. May you find the face of God himself in your suffering. And may you know that the victory has already been won.

Be rad. Be unfallen.

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