Reflections on a Comment
I did notice you quoted Matthew 27:46, when talking about Jesus taking on the sins of the world. I was wondering what you thought about Mt 27:46, being Jesus quoting Ps. 22 which ends with (vs. 31) "They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for He has done it. I heard a pastor say recently that He is not lamenting God's forsaking but just starting a well known Jewish song, that everyone would know the ending to such as if I were to sing the line "a wretch like me." Everybody knows “Amazing Grace” and the point of the song... what are your thoughts?
This was a comment I received about Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and why Jesus wept. I'd like to give some of my opinions about this.
I had said for a moment on the cross, when Jesus bore all the sins of the world, God even deserted Him, and I quoted Matthew 27:46: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (This is actually copied from Mark 15:34 here, which is the same as in Matthew.)
This is the opening line of Psalm 22, so technically Jesus is quoting from a familiar Jewish song. But I don't think he was just reciting a familiar line that all the Jews witnessing this event could sing along with. Let's look at the sequence of what Jesus did say around that line. (This is a compilation of the four Gospels on Christ's final moments on the cross: Mark 15:33-38 Matthew 27:45-51 John 28:16-30 Luke 23:44-46. Jesus' words are in red.)
It was now about the sixth hour [and] at the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land for the sun stopped shining. And at about the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there. Immediately one of them, one man ran and got a sponge, filled [the] sponge with wine vinegar, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, put it on a stick, and lifted it to Jesus' lips, offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him, to take him down."
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." And when Jesus had cried out again with a loud cry, called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he bowed his head and he gave up his spirit. Jesus breathed his last.
At that moment The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
Notice, after Jesus has said, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?", He then knew it was completed. What was completed? I would say the payment of the penalty for all the sins of humans past, present and future had been made. But Jesus wasn't dead yet, so what happened?
God is Holy. God cannot look on sinners. That is why sinners always had to be covered with some sacrifice, from the bloodshed to provide animal skin aprons for Adams and Eve through the last bull slaughtered in the Temple. When Jesus took on all the sins as the substitute lamb for us, God had to look away, and when God looked away it left the human Jesus upon the cross for a moment in as much darkness as there had been between those three hours.
But God came back in a moment, the sins forgiven and forgotten. Jesus speaks to his Father and he (for only Jesus could take his life, not those who crucified Him) gave up his spirit into the hands of the Father and breathed his last. Although in truth, he didn't breath his last, because three days later he breathed again and in the breath of his resurrection came the promise of our salvation.
Jesus said to her [Martha], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
What of Psalm 22? This is more than a popular song known to the Jews. This is a very prophetic Scripture of the death of Christ on the cross. It was written by David and it has a very interesting structure. It was quoted by Christ to fulfill prophecy and as a reference to us all that it was a prophecy fulfilled.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. Psalm 22:1-22
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever! 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, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
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. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it. Psalm 22: 23-31
The first 21 verses are told in the first person and it is as if we have Christ's thoughts as he hung on the cross. There is a feeling at times of God being distant, of a prayer asking that he will not be far for long. It ends with a prayer for rescue.
Verses 23-31 change to the third person. It is the declaration that all this suffering has accomplished the objective. This expresses the hope we have "for he has done it".
Illustration: "The Crucifixion" by Gustave Dore 1872-3