Wednesday March 28, 2018

I Am Here

By Mike Ingram

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew we see the last words of Jesus the Christ recorded as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (MK 15:34, MT 27:46).  There are typically two ways of addressing this particular passage. I would like to suggest both of them as likely true, but add a bit of my own thought and reflection.

One typical response to this is to very simply point out that these words are the opening lines of Psalm 22. The next sentence often then looks at this and says it was not an honest or earnest outcry from Jesus, but instead he was merely praying and calling upon the wisdom of Psalm 22. The other typical response is to say that Jesus in his humanity, being fully human he did indeed, in that moment, upon the cross, feel a very real sense of abandonment.

I see no reason why these need to be conflicting responses. Instead, I see them as deeply linked. Integrally related yet missing one last important aspect. In this moment of physical torture who could blame Jesus for feeling a sense of abandonment and in feeling this abandonment calling upon the words of Scripture for a prayer? What is missing from the Gospel accounts, something that we simply cannot know with historical certainty is what God’s response to Jesus’ prayer was.

In truth we don’t even know if these were, in fact, Jesus last words, both Matthew and Mark recount slightly differently, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” (MT 27:50) and “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.” (MK 15:37). What we don’t know is what kind of response Jesus received from God.

I like to think that the last thing Jesus experienced before crying out and offering up his spirit was the familiar voice of God saying nothing more than “I am here.” In hearing this profoundly comforting response Jesus embraced whatever might follow and gave his spirit over to God.

All it took was a simple “I am here.”

Would this be enough for you or me?

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