Sunday, February 6, 2011


At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  (Mark 15:34)

When Jesus cried "My God, My God," what was He doing? Was He just crying to Himself? In a god of only one person like the Modalism of today's church, there would be no other person to whom Jesus could cry. Modalism would say something about this cry and who Jesus is. The Trinity says something vastly different. Who is Jesus? Why was he crying?

Psychological Self-Talk

In the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit are one God, but different Persons. Those who reject the Trinity must see the experience of Jesus on the cross as one person forsaking himself and crying out to himself. They try to psychologize the cross away.

They see heaven as being in touch with oneself rather than in touch with the Father. They see hell as being alienated from oneself rather than being alienated from the Father. Theirs is a doctrine of self from beginning to end. With their doctrine of self-esteem, they view Jesus’ cry as negative self-talk. They view it as dysfunctional and out of touch with reality.

This self-esteem doctrine is heartless. It refuses Jesus a fair hearing of his cry. It can't be bothered with listening.

Psalm 22

Jesus was reciting Psalm 22. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1)

In  Psalm 22, David is the prophet of the crucifixion of Jesus. This Psalm is loaded with the facts of the cross. The facts all point to a real forsakenness of one Person by Another.
  • "They have pierced my hands and feet." (v 16b)

    Thomas "said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.' Eight days later ... [Jesus] said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, see my hands; and put out hand, and place it in my side." (John 20:25-27)
  • "They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." (v 18)

    "They crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take." (Mark 15:24)
  • "All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 'He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!'" (vv. 7-8)

    "Those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ... 'If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ... 'He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him.'" (Matthew 27:39-44)
  • "My tongue sticks to my jaws." (v 15)

    "I thirst." (John 19:28)
  • "All my bones are out of joint." (v 14)

    Hanging by nails through the wrists, the body sags. After some hours, bones go out of joint.
  • "My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast."

    Among many medical effects was "congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and perhaps pleural effusions." (William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, Floyd H. Hosmer, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 21, 1986).

Facts are Stubborn Things

For those who reject the Trinity, somehow everything here is real except the forsakenness of Jesus. Real hands, feet, cross, nails, piercings, division of garments, casting of lots, mocking, wagging of heads, insults in the exact words prophesied by David, real tongue, sticking of tongue to jaw, thirst, bones, disjoining of bones, heart, and real melting of heart.

For them, somehow his cry is only negative self-talk. There is no forsakenness. He is just out of touch with himself. He’s just lacking self-esteem. If only Jesus would realize the words Father and Son are only different titles of one person. Then he would realize that he is the Father. He needs to stop esteeming the Father as if the Father really were another Person.

But facts are stubborn things. The fact of forsakenness is like all the other facts of the cross. All those facts are real, and this really is forsakenness. It is one Person abandoned by Another. It is the Son who had always been “in the bosom of the Father” under the wrath of God.

An actual and dreadful separation took place between the Father and the Son; it was voluntarily accepted by both the Father and the Son; it was due to our sins and their just reward; and Jesus expressed this horror of great darkness, this God-forsakenness, by quoting the only verse of Scripture which accurately described it, and which he had perfectly fulfilled, namely, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, InterVarsity Press, p. 81)

Wrath: a Trinity Event

Wrath is God’s holy reaction to evil. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18) Before the cross, we all “were by nature children of wrath.” (Eph 2:3)

On the cross, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21). When Jesus took our place, God’s wrath was poured out on his Son for us. This pouring was a Trinity event. The Father forsook his Son. The Son died.

Before Jesus volunteered to take it for us, that cross was ours. The sin and evil were ours. The punishment of sin was ours.

This is where the real rub lies with the forsakenness deniers, wrath deniers, and Trinity deniers. They deny their sin. In their view, they have no sin problem, only low self-esteem. Low self-esteem calls for therapy, not wrath. It calls for a support group, not forsakenness. The cross is an offense, a scandal because it tells us how evil we are. It tells what had to be done to atone for our sin. It tells us Who it had to be done to.

The Trinity shows us who Jesus is. Jesus is the Son forsaken by the Father. Jesus is no victim. Jesus is a volunteer savior. There is a vast difference between a victim and a volunteer. Jesus is both Volunteer and Victor, because of his other-esteem for his Father, and for you and me.


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