Christ’s last prayer on this earth was in the form of a question. A prayer is any form of communication directed to God. Our Lord asks God a serious question—“Why have you forsaken me?” or in other words, “Why have you abandoned me?”
Of all the things Christ spoke on this earth, this question in Matthew 27:46 is the most perplexing, don’t you think? Did Jesus really believe God had abandoned Him?
Jesus had resolved to go to the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane after asking God three times if there was another way.
36 “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[b] See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46
And He was resolved as they beat Him and spit on Him.
I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Isaiah 50:6
Jesus knew what was set before Him, and He resolved to finish it. Not one time did he shrink back from anything He endured. So, I find it hard to believe that at the completion of His divinely ordained task, He despaired.
But, there it is—the troubling question, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”
What else could He have meant?
Maybe this Man who had spent His horrific time on the cross concerned about others, like His mother (whom He placed in John’s care—John 19:26), those crucifying Him (asking God to forgive them because they did not understand what they were doing—Luke 23:34) and the thief beside Him (whom He assured of salvation that day—Luke 23:43), was now offering a final comfort to those who were grieving over His impending death.
Just maybe the true High Priest was leading His mourners in a Psalm of comfort??? By reciting just the first few words (of Psalm 22), the Jewish spectators would have remembered the words of this song of praise. And I like to imagine that as they continued to recite the words of David that they came alive for them. I like to believe that now they finally understood Who Jesus really was, and what He was all about. And, I especially love how the song ends—in resounding triumph! Read on, and be encouraged!!!
1My 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.[b]
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
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.
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.”
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.
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[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] 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.
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.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] 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.
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!”
This is just one more example of how God’s Word comforts us through the trials and tribulations of this life. Are there any other Psalms that begin with man’s questions, and end with God’s triumph?
Question: Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
Ending Answer: Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Question: My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?
Ending Answer: All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
Question: Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Ending Answer: You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.
I recommend looking up more. Store them in your prayer closet, and retrieve during difficult days.
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. If you would like to schedule Gina to speak on prayer or host a prayer journaling workshop, click here for more information. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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