We recently heard a wonderful Messianic Jew deliver a message of hope and enlightenment on the Passover Lamb. As a Christian, to miss the Jewishness of Christ, is to miss a great deal of who He was and what He came to do. Whenever I have the opportunity, I want to hear more.
There were a few ‘aha’ moments for me while he spoke. The one I really want to share is the cry of Christ, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34). I have always heard it preached that God could not look at Christ and turned his back on him, because Christ had taken on the sin of the whole world and God could not look upon that sin. After hearing this message however, I believe something completely different. This is what I got from a Jewish-Christian message.
Christ is the Word, Christ authored the Word, Christ knew the Word, and he knew his audience knew the Word and had certain parts of the Word memorized. It was Jewish tradition to recite memorized texts. One had to only call out a portion of it and everyone knew the whole text. Just as we might say, “don’t drink the kool-aid” and everyone knows the story of Jim Jones and his cult who blindly followed him and drank the poisoned kool-aid and died. Or if you say the first line of most any nursery rhyme, like, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…” or well known scripture like, “For God so loved the world…” and almost everyone could mentally finish out the rest in their heads.
Christ had been beaten and tortured and nailed to the cross. He was in excruciating pain and his life was ebbing away. He was barely able to breathe or talk. His last words were short and truncated sentences. Gasping for the air and the strength to speak he said what he needed to say as briefly as possible.
When Christ uttered the phrase, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was quoting Psalm 22 authored by the Old Testament Christ figure, David. David is on the run from Saul and utterly alone and abandoned. We know that David voiced his feelings and thoughts throughout the Psalms. We also know that this is a passage of scripture that Jews memorize and recite. When Christ calls this out, those of his followers around the cross could finish this scripture in their heads.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
[God has saved them before. His people trusted Him and God took care of them.]
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 "He trusts in the Lord," they say,
"let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
[David describes the very things that are happening to Christ.]
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
[Born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit.]
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 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.
15 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.
[Water poured from His side when He was pierced with the spear. His bones were out of joint from the crucifixion but not broken to fulfill prophesy. His tongue was swollen and stuck to the roof of his mouth because of the physical brutality of what crucifixion does to the body.]
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
[Dogs was a common phrase for Gentiles (the Romans). The soldiers cast lots for his clothes.]
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 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.
[Here is the reminder to His followers. I will praise God. Everyone honor God. God has NOT despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one. God has heard His cry.]
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
[Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess...]
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
[Future generations will be told. He has done it. It is finished. The price has been paid.]
He is not calling out to His Father who abandoned him, he is preaching his last sermon from the cross. He is saying, ‘I am the Christ foretold. This is what must happen to save you. God loves you and always has. Generation after generation will know what God has done here this day.’ God does not abandon us because we sin. He is with us, calling us to Him.
Turn from what you know is wrong, ask forgiveness, and walk toward the One who has loved you since the beginning of time. Read Psalm 22. Read it again. I am.
– Donnalee Blankenship