This morning’s devotion comes to us from Jady Koch.

…“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, ESV)

In this cry of Jesus from the cross, it seems paradoxical that these despairing words have given people such comfort. In Cross-Shattered Christ, theologian Stanley Hauerwas explains that those who have suffered, who live in the aftermath of Auschwitz or 9/11, are those who seem to quickly identify with this verse: “We do so because we think we have some idea about what it means to be forsaken…” But he continues:

That we can even begin to entertain such thoughts is but an indication of our refusal, indeed our inability, to believe that this One who hangs on this obscure and humiliating cross is God… This is not a cry of general dereliction; it is the cry of the long-expected Messiah, sacrificed in our stead and thus becoming the end of sacrifice (60-61).

It is the profundity of these words—of God hanging humiliated—that force us to the most abstract flights of speculation, because there really is no appropriate way to “read, mark and inwardly digest” what is being related here. The intricacies and complexities of any theological tradition save people from needing to think about Jesus abandoned on the cross by God. Theological concepts like the deus absconditus (the hidden God), or God working sub contrario (under the guise of His opposite), or literary allusions (Psalm 22), may be helpful to read about, but ultimately they all stop short of articulating this—the death of God’s son for the redemption of His people.

In light of this, we do what the church has been doing for 2000 years: “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.” We talk about the Man “delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). In these last words of Jesus, we do find some comfort, but not in analogies or paradigms or paradoxes, but in our own sufferings and deaths. When we fear or question or cry out, we know that we are not the first, and we are not alone. In fact, as Hauerwas says it, these times are reminders that “the Son of God has taken our place, become for us the abandonment our sin produces, so that we may live confident that the world has been redeemed by this cross.”