Foundations: Forsaken?

At about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46

 These are not comfortable words, and none of us likes in any way to be or feel forsaken.  Yet, in the gospels of Mark and Matthew, these are the final words of Jesus as he dies on the cross.  They are, at first glance, the words of a man who dies feeling as if his God has dealt him a double crossing blow in the worst way.  As sacred literature, these are the words that two writers chose to convey an important piece of wisdom about foundations to two different communities.  They may speak powerfully to us if we listen.

Mark’s version is the earliest, and Matthew re-purposed it.  The writer of Mark’s gospel demonstrates repeatedly the message that insiders are out and outsiders are in.  It is a gospel of reversal which seeks to lift up those who feel forsaken by their communities. This gospel shows the reader a Jesus who ultimately identifies with the forsaken, and hence, any experience of being abandoned, betrayed and forsaken is one that Jesus knows, one in which he becomes our companion on the way–especially when our way becomes unbearable.

Matthew wrote a generation later for a community of Jews who followed Jesus but who were beginning to be rejected from the traditional Jewish community.  After spending the entire gospel portraying Jesus as the New Moses, the writer allows that Jewish community to see themselves as forsaken ones in the person of Jesus himself.

There is nothing like betrayal, abandonment and the experience of being forsaken to take us down to our very core so that we can see who we are, what we have, what we are made of.  In some of those experiences we may find that we have absolutely nothing left. Out of that experience of a foundation of “nothing left” new life emerges ANYWAY.

Do you see yourself, or any of your experiences in these words of Jesus?

Bob Patrick

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