Friday, June 23, 2023

The Vision (6.23.23): The Cry of Dereliction


Image: Bee & Butterfly Bush, North Garden, Virginia, June 2023

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 27:39-49.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachtini? that is to say, My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46).

Just before Christ died on the cross (see v. 50), we read in v. 46 that he cried out in his mother tongue, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” Matthew translates for the Gentiles to understand Christ’s words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (cf. Mark 15:34). He is citing the opening verse of Psalm 22. Some have called this the “Cry of Dereliction.” It is indeed a cry of despair, like many of the Psalms of lament, such as Psalm 13, which begins, “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD?” (v. 1).

We should not think, however, that this is cry completely devoid of hope, or propagate the unbiblical idea that the Father somehow “turned his back” on the Son at this moment.

The Jews of the first century and the early Christians knew well the Old Testament and especially the Psalms (cf., e.g., Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33, 35; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). To quote but one line, especially the beginning, was enough to call to mind the entirety of a Psalm. This will cause us to look well at the whole of Psalm 22. Yes, it begins with despair (see v. 1), but it ends with confidence and hope in God. See especially Psalm 22:23-28. Psalm 22:24 even explicitly declares that the Father did not hide his face from the Son: “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

The cross did not take Christ by surprise. He knew he would be put to death, but he also knew he would be raised. Review again the three passion predictions recorded in Matthew, which are also resurrection predictions: Matthew 16:21 (“and be raised again the third day”); 17:22-23 (“and the third day he shall be raised again”); 20:18-19 (“and the third day he shall rise again”). Add to this Christ’s statement following the Passover meal, “But after I am risen again…” (Matthew 26:32).

He knew that all was in the Father’s hands, and, in the end, he would have victory over death.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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