“My God, my God, why …?” Matthew 27:46
Of all the words Christ uttered from the cross, these were the most shocking. Why does the God of the universe ask “Why?” If anything should worry us, it would be this. If God doesn’t know what’s going on, where does that leave us?
Now of course the universe is not spinning out of control at this point; that is the beauty of the three-in-one nature of God. God the Father knew what was going on, but in that incredible moment in time, God the Son did not. It’s part of the wonder of this arrangement. Not only was Jesus paying for our sins, He was also identifying totally with our human state.
If anyone should have known what was going on at that moment, it would have been Jesus. It was what He came for — the focus of His life — the fulcrum of the history He came to create. It was what He headed straight for, and dreaded when He got there. He knew why. He talked about it throughout HIs ministry. “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). He spoke of Jonah as an example of being in the belly of the earth for three days; and He paired His own death and resurrection with destroying and rebuilding the temple in the same number of days.
So why would He cry out “Why?” when He knew why all along why? Because in that moment of actually going through the suffering and the death He Himself predicted, He was saying that He never knew it would be like this. And in that moment of extreme agony and separation, He was saying that the intellectual knowledge of why He came was not anywhere close to reaching the pain of His human existence.
There have been times in these last few days when Anne has grabbed my arm and looked in my face with a look I can only describe as “Why? Tell me what is going on! Can’t you do anything to make this pain go away?” And it is, indeed, a feeling of utter helplessness to not be able to give her an answer.
We can only assume that in the utter agony of what Christ must have experienced on the cross, He either forgot the answer, or the answer didn’t reach far enough to touch the reality of the pain. He knew it was coming; He never knew it would be like this. And not only the pain of our sin, but the pain of being left alone. For in that moment, God turned His back on His only Son, and Jesus cried out “Why have you forsaken me?”
If there is any comfort to be had here, it is in realizing that Jesus understands this now. When we cry, “Why?,” He knows what that is like. “Small comfort,” you say? Maybe not. Maybe it’s bigger than we think. Maybe it’s big enough to put an end to all this pain and misery once and for all. I imagine that we will be saying throughout an eternity free of all the pain and the suffering we are experiencing now, that it was, indeed, worth it.