Reflection on the Fourth of Jesus’ Last Words
Rev. Leah Lyman Waldron
Ecumenical Good Friday Service
St. John’s Episcopal Church
April 19, 2019
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Jesus came to be with us on earth in part to draw closer to us through knowing our joys and our pain. His human experience is one way we know how much God loves us: that God-made-flesh chose to share our lot.
And what a lot it was. In his last days on earth, Jesus was betrayed and humiliated; not only did he undergo unimaginable physical pain, he also suffered the immense spiritual pain of being abandoned by God, forsaken in his utmost hour of need.
How many of us have felt similarly abandoned in the moment of receiving a diagnosis; in the midst of chronic illness; in the war zone that is a bitter divorce; in the depths of depression or addiction; or in the bleak midnight of loss, of broken dreams?
Yet in a mysterious paradox, through his suffering and death Jesus is with us, even in the barren wasteland of our forsakenness; somehow, God is with us even when we are abandoned by God.
What might at first seem a stunning admission of faithlessness actually goes straight to the heart of our faith. On the lips of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” becomes a beautiful, despairing cry – a witness to the Gospel’s power to penetrate even into the darkest corners of our existence.
May we bear witness, too – to Jesus’ pain, to our own, to the world’s pain; not flinching away from the darkness but facing it, boldly asking that God meet us there. Amen.