09 April 2012
I used to be troubled by words of the Word Incarnate spoken from the Cross: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" I now know that I was right to be troubled, for the usual analysis of this statement, namely, that the Son actually felt abandoned by the Father, must be wrong. Throughout His ministry, Christ had tried to make clear to His disciples that the execution of the Messiah was something that had to come to pass so that He could effect the salvation of the world; for instance, in Gethsemane, when Peter and others tried to defend Him from the men who came to arrest Him, He told them:
Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? (Mt. 26:54-55)
Yet, on the very next day, when the Crucifixion did occur, he accused the Father of forsaking Him? The episode makes no sense, unless the following is the correct explanation.
Like my uncommon commentaries, psalms have traditionally been identified not only with a number—On the subject of the arrangement of the Book of Psalms, it's interesting to note that this is itself divided into "books"; e.g., Book V comprises Psalms 107-150—but also with a title; in the case of psalms, as well as hymns, the title comes from the opening verse. In the Psaltery within the Book of Common Prayer, for example, the twenty-second psalm bears the Latin title "Deus, Deus meus", for it begins "My God, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me?" My theological theory is that, in crying out words from the first line of that most messianic of psalms, Jesus was not grumbling against the Omnipotent (as the Israelites did during the Exodus, incurring Yahweh's anger) but rather calling the attention of his observers to the prophecies of the Christ contained therein: verse 8, "He trusted in the Lord, that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, …"; and 17-18, "They pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones; they stand staring and looking upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture."If any of my readers privately disagree, I'll know.