«At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matthew 27:46).
Every question we have considered up to now has been directed toward men. However, Jesus once asked God a question. In His secret places of prayer He probably asked additional ones, but we do not have a direct record of them in the gospels. Some rhetorical questions may give us hints of the constant dialogue between Jesus and the Father, because several expressions of mutual understanding slip through showing us an intimacy to which we should aspire.
There was no longer an orchard or a garden in which to retreat to pray. Jesus was on the cross, after hours of agony, blows, abuse, injustice, indifference, betrayal, abandonment, denial, mocking … And in between, He had managed to give freedom to Barabbas, conscience to Pilate, a loving gaze to Peter, perspective to the women who were sympathetic in His heavy walk, the gift of carrying the cross to Simon of Cyrene, forgiveness to the thief hanging by his side (an to all those who did know what they were doing), the sound of His voice and His composure to the soldiers who would never forget Him, assurance and a family to Mary and John, and a silent and powerful testimony beyond compare in this world ‘s history.
The image of Jesus on the cross, His death for sin, His sacrifice for love, is an image we should call to mind at least once a day. Even today we may
find those same gifts He gave with the last of His strength by just thinking about Him, accepting Him and asking for them.
Perhaps, like many of those who went to the cross that day expecting Jesus to perform a final manifestation of power and free Himself from death, today we approach Him for the wrong reasons or expecting things according to our own will. What if what we need most are those blessings He gave in His final hours?
The weight of sin made Him feel very far apart from His Father, and the anguish He felt over that separation was such that Jesus felt He had been abandoned. Today that the story has already been told and we know how it ends, we slightly simplify what those moments meant, and the great faith and surrender they required.
Today, thanks to that abandonment He felt’ we know we will never be abandoned.