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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

I have recently been studying the work of Peter Rollins, and in one of his books he describes a [church] service in which the focus is the Holy Saturday. Toying with the idea that the typical Western Christian community shy's away from meditating on the crucifixion apart from the resurrection. The idea is that you imagine life without the resurrection; what if Jesus suffered and died, and in those days you fled the scene never knowing He rose? In essence, would you follow Jesus if his life, teachings, and suffering on Earth came without the promise of the resurrection? In order to do this you must muster the strength in your faith to set aside the anger which may surface from subjecting our Savior to the simply human, because that is not my focus here. I want to focus on the thought that as Christians there is a question on whether or not we give adequate time to the cross, and only the cross. Do we embrace the love of Christ for simply what it is, or is the gift of salvation a necessity to us in order to follow Jesus. What exactly is Jesus teaching us when He cries out to God that He feels forsaken by the Almighty?

I think focusing on the suffering of Christ is an important part of our life on Earth, and even more I think His profound cry to God is one that needs attention. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” To sit in those words, entranced, and silent in the ache of Jesus’ heart. Yet, to try and define the cry of God between God is not our place to tread. I don’t think it is for us to wonder about, not because we couldn’t speculate, but because we may miss the true loneliness Jesus’ heart was feeling at that very second.


In that very moment Jesus and I were more alike than any other time He spent on this Earth. For I am not a great teacher, I am not a healer, a great miracle worker, and although at times I pretend I’m great enough to walk on water, the truth is I cannot. But feel abandoned by God? You betcha.


In the midst of his cries to the Father while hanging on the cross Jesus was suffering abuse at the hand of someone who said they loved Him, He was going through a divorce, He was dying from cancer watching His wife and children beg for a miracle, He was miscarrying a child, He was losing His job and any means to support His family, He was contemplating abortion and hating Himself for it, He was fighting addictions. . .


Jesus was sitting in a cold chair next to a hospital bed in a bright and unloving room, holding the hand of His one true love knowing he was about to say goodbye to that person forever. And why? Simply because death here . . . happens.


Jesus was forsaken by God, but that feeling is something I live with far too often, that I think we all live with far too often. It is our own sin that brings death to our lives here, but regardless of the why, Jesus still understands. Our lives here are not easy, they are not easier because we are Christians, and they don’t have a promise of good to come in this life. I have felt a fear of punishment over this last month, fear of consequences for past actions, or just a resigned feeling of, ‘Well God just has more fun testing me then others.” And my internal answer to this is not the good promised in Heaven. In my life, I worship God in the midst of my daily Holy Saturdays for two reasons. One: because I love Him, and He loves me. Two: I am here to glorify Him. So do I worship God because of his gift of salvation? The answer is no. I worship, serve, and love God because He first loved me; I love and serve others because He first loved me. And because of this love for me, my hope is that He shines through me, and I live a life that glorifies His holy name. I do not need to rest in the cross without the resurrection, because I do not believe that is what Jesus wants for me. What Jesus says to us through His cry is that He knows our pain. He assures us that, good or bad, our lives will be transformed here, and the joy of the Spirit in our lives will result.


With all this being said. . .I would like to thank Peter Rollins, as I have great respect for him as a teacher and as a Christian. I cannot say with any certainty what he intends for his readers by posing these questions or scenerios in the first place, but I have a thought (and he is welcome to add to these thoughts if he happens to read my little blog:), I think it might be in part, to ask the hard questions, as Jesus did, is to weed out those [Christians] willingly to dig within themselves for an answer. It will stretch our minds and hopefully strengthen our faith – both if done in thoughtful prayer and meditation is bound to produce good fruit. This good fruit is not in the words we use in regards to the god we serve, but more importantly our actions to love and serve one another. The answer you come up with may not be the same answer as the person to your left or right, but do not forget that other person continues to be an image bearer of Christ. To love them as God first loved you should come far before [and continue long after] lining up your views on any subject of doctrine.


Agree or disagree amongst each other, but above all. . .

Love One Another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think there is no greater time when Jesus displayed his humanity than the night before His death on the cross. I am SO grateful these words and his anguish were recorded, for when we each go through that season of wrestling with God... why have you forsaken me? and cry out from the depth of our spirits, then we can look at our Savior's words and know without a doubt...He was human... He knows... He has been there... He persevered... and in doing so was raised to new Life with the Father. That gives us a beam of hope... in the midst of our dark struggles. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as you pass through your Gethsemane season...