Deeper than we know

“The Father turns His face away. . .”, goes the song. How comforting, then, to read in the 21st Psalm (22nd in the Protestant Bible):

Nor has He turned away His face from me; And when I cried out to Him, He heard me.

Which reminds us that Christ on the cross, while fully man and therefore fully empathetic with the alienation of man from God, was — and ever will be — fully God, and thus incapable of alienation from the Father. It was not only, in other words, a perfect man dying on the cross for the salvation of mankind, but God Himself on that cross, stretched from torn human limbs not for self-amusement nor to satisfy some heavenly bloodlust, but out of love — deep, abiding love, love yet so alien to man that we insist on making it secondary to medieval notions of penal justice — or worse still, abstract it altogether into God’s love for Himself.

How deep the Father’s love for us indeed, that it will be bound neither by the actions nor the theologies of men. Justice was indeed served on the cross, but man, on that day, was liberated not from an angry God, but from sin and death. And this is why we eagerly await the celebration of His resurrection, and more eagerly still the life to come.

Comments

  1. Lisa R.

    Tony, while reading your lovely piece, the words to the hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This?” popped into my head. It may not be the first choice of many music ministers for Easter Sunday (it’s in a minor key & therefore may not be cheery enough!) But the somberness of the minor key and the words themselves speak volumes.

  2. caveat bettor

    Michael Card’s “Love Crucified, Arose?” I’m not sure if I fully grasp the tension in your observation. While I agree with your (ahem) theology, the Son does ask the Father why He has been forsaken, and this after sweat poured off like blood in the garden of Gethsemane.

  3. Trent Sebits

    When Christ asks why he has been forsaken/ abandoned, the phrase he is using is that of Genesis 2, “For this reason a man shall abandon/leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” Christ is saying this not because the Father is angry with him and taking out his anger on Him instead of us. Rather, it is time for the bridegroom to leave his Father and be joined with his Bride (Rescuing humanity from sin and death). St. Paul explains this in Eph 5: For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.
    This bridal language continues when Christ says (in most English translations) “it is finished” but could also be translated, “It is consummated”.

  4. Fr. Bill

    While I empathize with much that Trent ~concludes~ from his observations, the dots he connects between our Lord’s words and the Old Testament are inaccurate. There is no possibility that our Lord was NOT uttering the opening lines of the 22nd Psalm (21st in the Roman Bible). And, therefore, the ideas expressed in that Psalm are the ones to inform what our Lord meant by uttering those words.

    If one wishes to speculate, it is a very tiny stretch to suppose our Lord spoke the entirety of that Psalm as He hung on the cross. Look it up and read it! The first half of it is an astounding foreview, prophecy, prediction if you will, of what our Lord was experiencing on the Cross before He died.

    And, don’t miss the second half of the Psalm, beginning in the very middle of its 21st verse: “You have answered Me.”

    From that point to the end, the Psalm is a triumphant psalm of praise to the Father for the victory our Lord achieves by His death on the cross. So, even before He died, He had that comfort, that assurance, that He would succeed.

    Again, “It is finished” has to be read in the context of what we ~know~ for sure was on our Lord’s mind — the 22nd (or 21st) Psalm.

    As for consummation with His Bride, the New Testament is emphatic that this comes at the end (cf. Rev. 19-20) of history, not at its center.

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