Psalm 22:1-2, 6-8, 14-24
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will declare your name to my people;New International Version
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
This scripture passage hits me hard as I think about Jesus’ Crucifixion. King David, centuries before Jesus’ earthly ministry, wrote down these words from God describing how the Son of Man would be rejected by his countrymen, nailed to a cross, and have water pour out from a spear-pierced side. Even during that horror, David recognized, and Jesus knew, that God would still rule over all!
It is astonishing to consider that the people standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross were so absorbed by their anger and caught up in their self-righteousness that they forgot about this foretelling from King David. Every religious leader and most of the Jewish people present at the execution could have easily recited this Psalm. They could have joined with Jesus when he cried out that opening phrase, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46)
But they didn’t speak. They didn’t hear what he said. Some of them even thought, foolishly, that he was calling for “Elias,” the prophet Elijah. They were so certain about completing their self-declared cleansing of their human-created religion, and those four Aramaic words escaped them.
Jesus told his disciples in those four simple words that his death was foretold and that God would conquer all. The disciples, in their fear, missed that reference, too.
Jesus declared victory, even as he was dying, with those four words spoken in the presence of those mocking him. His oppressors were too involved to listen, intent on celebrating the death of the man whose goodness threatened their authority.
Jesus spoke those same words for us.
We can claim the amazing Love that has already answered when we cry out that question. God has not, does not, and will not ever forsake us. Just as God was there when Jesus was betrayed, insulted, condemned without cause, and killed, God is with us, too. There is no circumstance we will ever face where God is not in control, with divine wisdom bringing eternal good out of even the worst that evil can do.
But if the disciples and Pharisees misunderstood those four words, we can miss them, too. We are as capable of ignoring what God is doing around us as the Pharisees were. We can be so certain of our own wisdom that we ignore the Wisdom God is giving us. We, too, are guilty of vigorously protecting what we want from anything that challenges it. But even when we miss that message, God still rules, and because God still rules, God’s Grace still reaches out to us, urging us to listen and accept that truth.
God still rules, no matter what struggles we are having and what burdens we are bearing. God still rules, no matter how we respond to God’s Grace. God still rules, and one day, we all will see the unimaginable Goodness that has been sustaining each one of us, and all the universe will proclaim that God rules over all.
Scripture passages are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.