When God Questions God

Crucifiction

 Mark 15:33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, three in the afternoon. 34 At the ninth hour, three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.”

When God questions God, God teaches us that it's all right to question God. Why have you abandoned me? Why have you left me here to die alone? Why have you given me up to death? Why, God, why?  

 Mark 15:33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, three in the afternoon. 34 At the ninth hour, three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.”

When God questions God, God teaches us that it's all right to question God. Why have you abandoned me? Why have you left me here to die alone? Why have you given me up to death? Why, God, why?  
After all we’ve been though together, after all I’ve done for you – after all I’ve done in your Name, how could you do this to me? Why, God, why? After all of the time before time when we were eternally coexistent before “was” was, why? After hand crafting a creation together whose redemption was called for almost from the first moment they drew breath, why God? After nurturing and tending together one peculiar peck of people – no better and no worse than any other – through the centuries that turned into millennia, why? After one innocent young girl risked her life to bring me into the world, why? She’s standing right over there! And she wants to know why too. After all the teaching and preaching, walking and talking, praying and laying hands – after the life that I’ve lived, the life that I preached about, why would you do this?
Jesus was praying and preaching his final sermon series, including one from Psalm 22:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,
so far from my salvation, the words I scream?

And I am screaming now, on the inside. For this moment, this eternity you have abandoned me like a woman whose husband left her and put the divorce papers in the mail. The psalmist used that word to describe his sense of abandonment and that’s just how I feel right now: abandoned, forsaken, publicly humiliated by the one who promised in front of all these folk to love me forever. Verse 2:
2 My God, I cry by day, and you do not answer;
by night, and find no rest.

I spent all of last night on my knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, pouring out my heart to thee. I didn’t sleep at all last night dreading what the morning light would bring. But they didn’t wait ‘til morning. They came like thieves in the night. But that’s all right. Verse 3:
3 You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
I know who you are and who I am. I know whose I am. Verse 4:
4 In you our mothers and fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.

I know that I am not the first Jew to be murdered or martyred and I won’t be the last. I’m not the first brother to hang from the lynching tree like  Blessed Billie's strange fruit:

Blood on the leaves?

Blood at the root

?Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze?

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

?Pastoral scene of the gallant south?

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth?

The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh?

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh?

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck

?for the rain to gather?for the wind to suck?

for the sun to rot?for the tree to drop?

Here is a strange and bitter crop. Verse 5:

5 To you they cried, and escaped;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

You did it before, you can do it again. Didn’t my God deliver Daniel? And Deborah? And Jonah and Judith? And Esther and Ezra? You’re a doctor in the sickroom and a lawyer in the courtroom and you’ve never lost a case. Verses 6-8:
6 I am a worm, and not human;
reviled by humanity, despised by people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
they wiggle their lips and wag their heads:
8 “Commit your cause to the Holy One of Old;
let God rescue,
let God deliver the one in whom God delights!”

I’ve been ‘buked and I’ve been scorned, talked about as sure as I was borned. Verses 9-10:
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you preserved me on my mother’s breasts.
10 On you I was cast from the womb,
from the innards of my mother,
you are my God.

You are a father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless. You are the provider and protector of unexpectedly pregnant teen mothers and surprisingly single mothers. You are the midwife who brought me into the world and the neonatologist who made sure I survived being born in a stable coated with spit and –it. You are the reason I live, move and have my being. But it was Mama who taught me about you. And it’s Mama standing beside me now. And it’s Mama who is the face of God for me now. I thank God for my Mama. Verse 11:
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near
and there is no one to help…

I need you and I need you now. You are God and besides you there is no savior for me, no not one. My fair-weather friends have flown the coop. Verses 14-15:
14 Like water I am poured out, and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax; it has melted within my innards;
15 my strength has dried up like a broken clay pot,
and my tongue clings to my jaws;
in the dust of death you lay me out.

I’m hot and tired and thirsty now. My body is aching, wracked with pain. But I remember the words of the previous psalm, the one we sing at funerals: “Even though I walk through Shadow-Valley Death, you are with me.” Your rod and your staff are my comfort. Verses 16-18:
16 For dogs are all around me;
an assembly of evildoers encircles me,
like a lion after my hands and feet;
17 I can count all my bones. They look and stare at me.
18 They divide my garments among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

It seems like just yesterday I rode into town on the Hosanna Chorus. I’d like to believe these scabrous dogs, ravening wolves and barking hyenas aren’t the same folk who laid their simple poor garments in the road for Farmer Yehuda’s borrowed donkey to talk on. How can they argue, fuss and fight for my things when I’m not even dead. Yet. They want to shoot craps now? Have they no decency? Can’t I die with dignity? My Mama is watching! Verses 19-21:
19 But you, Holy One of Old, be not far away!
My strength, come quickly to help me!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my uniqueness from the grasp of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of wild oxen you have already answered me.

My strength is failing now. Soon it will be up to you to make sure my death has meaning. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Something happened when Jesus got to the second half of verse 21 in his cruciform contemplation. Somewhere between the first word and the last word, God had the final word. The answer was the same one given to the psalmist so long ago. God’s Name is I AM. I am with you. Verses 22-26:
22 I will tell of your Name to my sisters and brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 All you who fear the Holy One, praise God!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify God;
Give honor to God all you offspring of Israel!
24 For God did not despise or detest
the affliction of the afflicted;
God did not hide God’s face from me,
but heard when to God I cried.
25 You are the source of my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear God.
26 Those oppressed by poverty shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek God shall praise the Holy One of Old.
May your hearts live forever!

Why? Why have you forsaken me? So that oppression will cease. All oppression: economic oppression, terrorist oppression, violence against women and children, racist and sexist oppression. All oppression will cease one day because of this day. Verse 27:
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and repenting, turn
to the Holy Mighty and Merciful One;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before God.

God is sovereign. Why have you forsaken me? The answer to the question is given at the end of the psalm: that the ends of the earth might be saved, that all might turn and repent, that every kindred and every tribe on this celestial ball would bow down and worship before the God that Jesus trusted with his precious mortal-yet-immortal soul.
Why? Why have you forsaken me? Because only by forsaking me could you show that nothing, not even abandonment eclipses your love for me and for all whom I love. I trust you, for you are worthy of my trust.