Increasingly I have come to understand that there is nothing random or incidental about anything concerning Jesus. Every action, every word has meaning and purpose. Some are obvious; others take a while to discover, but all lead to healing in some way. The things we don’t understand tend to slide right by; we dismiss them as incidental or fillers to the real story. But they are not.
So it was with his cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mt. 27:46, which is an echo from Psalm 22.
Many sermons have been preached, interpreting this passage to try to make sense of it – and yet none satisfied. If God is totally good and behind the whole cross event, why is He so cruel to His own son during the height of his agony? So without a satisfactory answer we relegate this to a shelf in the closet to be ignored or explained away.
If it is true that Jesus took all sin to the cross, we need to rethink about what was included. Physical healing, certainly. “By his stripes we are healed.” “This is my body, broken for you.” My blood…poured out for the forgiveness of sin.” There is nothing that is excluded. Ailments of body and soul are covered. In the totality of His work on the cross, Jesus took all evil upon himself in order to die – to kill it, as it were.
And that included that dreadful moment in the Garden when separation from God occurred. Forced into exile, man was alone, terrifyingly alone. Naked. Abandoned.
Mankind has the ability to endure much hardship – wars, famine, floods and menacing beasts – but abandonment and aloneness, separation from the loving parent is the worst of all. It creates a pain and impress on spirit and soul which does not heal. A broken bone will mend; a broken spirit not. “The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Pr. 18:14
Jesus’ cry from the cross, his intentional cry, was showing that everything, including the separation and abandonment was included in his dying. Therefore he could declare following his resurrection, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He wont because he cannot. The old separation and its penalty have died; we live now anew in Him, never again alone and abandoned.
He not only suffered the deep forlorn-ness of God-separation, but there was more. “I thirst.” Here His cry reveals an essential body need, and the far greater longing of spirit and soul for the river of life. Man in his fallen state thirsts for that connection with his creator, for the refreshing found only in God. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Mt. 5:6
Jesus had throughout his ministry proclaimed that He was the source of living water. “He who comes to me shall never thirst.” “Come, all you who are thirsty, “ God says in Isaiah 55:1. “The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 4:13,14; 7:37,38.
Yet on the Cross, Jesus who is the God-source of unending life-giving water, cries out “I thirst.”
As intentional as all His other words, this declares that every misery sourced in the dryness of life without God is also hanging on the cross to be killed. Eternally. The new life planned by God will be one free of lack, and full of refreshment, catching man up in its flow.
It is this creation of a new reality, free forever from the former distortions, misery, sin and evil of life, that drove Jesus to the utter horror and pain of the cross where the “former things” were taken away. Killed dead. The new reality is indeed a new creation, one which required the elimination of the first state in order to establish the final and better one. It could only happen through the action of the God Man, Jesus. He, the sinless One, took all men into himself when He was lifted up, nailed to the cross. He also took not only sin, but every fruit of sin which brings woe and suffering in its wake.
The work of the Cross included restoration of mankind’s other senses. In Ezekiel 12:2 God declares, “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.” Rebellion causes blindness and deafness, God says. The only way to deal with that is to remove the root cause, Rebellion, the first sin. From it spring the separation and then all other evils leading to death. Since rebellion is part of man’s fallen nature, it is hard to recognize in ourselves. But it permeates our thinking and self interest so that we cannot hear, cannot see God, and often don’t want to, anyway. We instead worship at the shrine of self (the Me, Myself and I trinity) wondering why our lives are not going well.
We hear about living a life without rebellion and wonder if such a thing is possible. Every thought and act in line with God’s will? That sounds like Utopia, unachievable in this life. And in truth, it is unachievable in the life we started with. It is only possible through the new life He created for us. Hence the need for the Cross. It is the door into an entirely new experience, a new reality, a restored relationship with God the Father.
His work was total. Complete. When He uttered, “it is finished,” He was ready to die, taking the whole load of ugliness with Him to the grave. No one else could carry such a burden; no one else has the capacity of love to do it.
It is finished. The new reality is now available. To you.
Praise Him forever.