‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46)
Here, says John Flavel, ‘are words that might rend the hardest heart.’
The manner of the complaint
Note what our Lord complains of. ‘It is not of the cruel tortures he felt in his body, nor of the scoffs and reproaches of his name; he mentions not a word of these, they were all swallowed up in the sufferings within, as the river is swallowed up in the sea, or the lesser flame in the greater.’
What this desertion means
‘Divine desertion generally considered, is God’s withdrawing himself from any, not as to his essence, that fills heaven and earth, and constantly remains the same; but it is the withdrawment of his favour, grace, and love: when these are gone, God is said to be gone.…
At 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? (Mark 15:34; see also Matthew 27:46)
Six hours after he was nailed to his cross, the dying Jesus shouted out these awesome words. They are quoted from Psalm 22, showing that what Jesus suffered is not without some kind of parallel in the lives of others.
I’ve been going through Tom Wright’s important new book The Day the Revolution Began: Rethinking the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion (SPCK, 2016) with a fine tooth-comb. Here I offer a synopsis of what I think Wright is saying.
Part One: Introduction
1. A Vitally Important Scandal
In appearance, the death of Jesus was just another tragic failure. In reality, it launched the most important revolution the world has ever seen. From now on, everything would be different. …
In 1961 an Italian archaeologist, Antonio Frova, discovered an inscription at Caesarea Maritima on a stone slab which at the time of the discovery was being used as a section of steps leading into the Caesarea theatre. The inscription in Latin contained four lines, three of which are partially readable. Roughly translated they are as follows:-
Prefect of Judea
The inscribed stone was probably used originally in the foundation for a Tiberium (a temple for the worship of the emperor Tiberius) and then reused later in the discovered location. …
‘Irony’ means using words which have the opposite meaning to that which is usually intended. It is a powerful device, and can sharpen up our understanding of people and events by showing us who ‘gets it’ and who ‘doesn’t get it’.
Irony is not only a verbal device. There is also ‘dramatic irony’, in which the ‘real’ meaning of an entire event may be the opposite of its assumed, or apparent, meaning.
The account of Jesus’ crucifixion as recorded in Gospel of Matthew (Mt 27:27-51) is dripping with irony. …
It had been a mountain-top experience to top the lot. Right there, in front of three of his disciples, Jesus had experienced a brief but amazing transformation. His face shone; even his clothes became dazzling white. Two godly men from long ago, Moses and Elijah, had put in personal appearances. And God himself had spoken: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
As they come down the mountain, Jesus gave Peter, James and John a solemn instruction, v9: “Don’t tell anyone about what you have just seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”