Submitted by rmurden on Fri, 01/30/2015 – 14:05
2015 Lenten Devotional
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Psalm 22:1)
In The Reason for God, Timothy Keller suggests that to forgive is to absorb the hurt of another person’s action into yourself – the more grievous the offense and the more significant the relationship, the costlier the forgiveness. As it is with human relationships, so it is in God’s relationship with us: if there is to be forgiveness, there must occur a “bearing” or “absorbing” of sin.
The burden which God must bear – and the suffering which He must undergo – if He is to forgive sin is the burden of His own rejection. Even more than the physical agony of crucifixion, Christ’s suffering was unique – and particularly important – because it was relational: at the cross the Son was separated from the Father. As Keller notes, Christ’s cry on the cross of, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” expresses a deep level of relational suffering. Positing that, “There can be no greater inner agony than the loss of a relationship we desperately want.” Keller offers the following image: imagine a friend saying that he no longer cares about you – that stings. Imagine your child cutting off communication with you – that hurts deeply. Imagine your wife of twenty years saying she has had enough – that devastates. Now imagine that the one with whom you have had a fulfilling relationship for all eternity abandons you. This final scenario is the situation of Christ and God.
Not only did Christ suffer in this situation, but it was excruciating for God Himself. This is His Son whom He loves, the only person ever to live with a heart and mind untainted by sin. In forgiving those who rejected God and in taking on the burden of sin and its consequences, both God and Christ experienced deep suffering.
The cross is a clear expression of God’s heart: He was willing to bear the rejection which we deserve in order to make relationship with His people possible again. In response to this kind of love, may our hearts cry out with the psalmist,
“Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death” (Psalm 68:19-20).