Last Words 4: Honest to God

These are meditations on the Seven Last Words of Jesus for Holy Week. Those planning to do our Good Friday vigil should wait to read these. I wanted to share a couple each day for those who won’t be participating in the vigil. 

What if Jesus’ dying words shaped how we live the rest of our days?

33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)

For 3 long hours darkness descended upon the Light of the world. From noon to 3PM, the words from John’s Gospel were almost proved false: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). The One who was with the Father in the very beginning and shouted, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), now hung in utter darkness crying out as if the Father had abandoned Him there. He could endure the mockery of the crowds and withstand the physical agony of the nails and thorny crown; but the feeling of being separated from the love of God as he bore the consequences of our sins was almost too much to bear.  

In that horrific God-forsaken moment, he let out a cry from the deepest place in his heart—that place that reveals his deepest desire and most precious possession. Theologians and skeptics alike, still struggle to grasp what it means for the Son of God—or even God incarnate—to express such an uncomfortably honest sentiment. But one gets the feeling that He was again giving voice to something we have all experienced—something Jesus should have never had to experience himself.  

But in his cry of desperation tinged with fear and pain and even some anger, Jesus gave us all permission to express our own deepest feelings before God. Some of us have yet to learn that God really can handle the full array of our emotions, and He really wants us to be real in our relationship with Him. We may need to abandon some cheesy Christian cliches and stop repeating shallow formulas if we are to begin to approach our relationship with God with the same intensity and authenticity Jesus modeled for us. 

In this moment of uncertainty and global suffering, will we keep smiling and proffering sentimental refrains such as “God has a special purpose for all of this” or “Our hope is in Heaven”? Or will we trust that God would rather have us cry out to Him voicing what we’re really thinking or experiencing in the depths of our being? “My God, my God, why are you allowing this pandemic to ravage your creation? God, where the Hell are you right now?” 

Reflection: Are you totally honest with God in prayer? Are you holding back and afraid to share your deepest feelings? Will you follow Jesus’ lead and express your true heart to Him today? Did you know there’s an entire collection of psalms expressing frustration with God? Go read some of the ‘imprecatory psalms’ here.

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