Friday, April 6, 2012

The Father turned his back...I don't think so

This is my 100th post. Holy Smokes! Maybe someone should bake a cake. So far, this has been fun for me. I've enjoyed trying, sometimes not so successfully, to get my thoughts organized and written. I hope that any who have chosen to visit here have not been disappointed by my lack of eloquence and understanding. This is, after all, a blog. It's not meant to be a formal repository of all spiritual and experiential truth.
With that being said, I feel a need to rant just a bit. It's my blog; I can do that.
Today is Good Friday. It's the time when the Christian world remembers the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. After an eventful, and sometimes turbulent, public ministry the end came with a sudden ferocity that shocked those who were intimately relating with Jesus.
One thing that many people try to explain and understand is, what actually transpired on this day? Yes, we know that Jesus was unjustly tried, tortured, and hung on a tree where he died. But, what happened between the Father and the Son that day? Some have tried to say that between the hours of noon and 3 P.M., when darkness covered the world, the Father was compelled to turn away from the Son because your sin and mine were placed on Jesus. The Father's holiness could not look on this sin. Therefore, the first and second persons of the Trinity were separated from one another for this time.
I'm sorry, but I don't get this. Let me just share a couple points. The first is the ontological impossibility that I see in this. The very nature of Yahweh precludes this 'separation.' The Church has believed that there is, has, and always will be a perfect unity in the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This unity cannot be broken because it is God's will that it remain intact.
Another reason that is equally compelling for me is that this view gives a distorted image of the Father. What kind of Father would abandon his Son like this? Perhaps even stronger language is required. What kind of God would this represent? At best, one who is selfish and easily offended. At worst, one who is incapable of saving anyone. Now, I know that this idea of Jesus being totally forsaken and abandoned by everyone, including the Father evokes an emotional response that may cause someone to make a decision to follow Christ. But, what kind of God are these people deciding to follow? How deep is the commitment that is made by these people? I think that the distortions that this concept give of God, the loving Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos, are too many to recount.
So, what can we understand from this? Jesus, hanging on the cross, cried out, "My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?" Rather than taking this as Jesus, the divine Son of God, perceiving a real break in his eternal relationship with the Father, we should see Jesus, the Son of man totally identifying with the humanity he came to redeem. We sometimes forget that the incarnation means that God came to dwell with humankind as a human being. As such, Jesus was open to experience all that being a human person could experience. As he came to the end of his life, he fully and completely became Emmanuel, God with us. As David expressed in Psalm 22 these very words that Jesus spoke; as the prophets cried out time and again, "where are you, God?"; as Job in the depths of his misery cried to see and speak with God who had apparently abandoned him; as countless women and men throughout history have experienced the desolation and loneliness of suddenly realizing that all seemed lost, Jesus tasted the true human condition, embraced it, and totally identified with it. The result? I am saved by a person who understands me. I have a high priest and advocate who knows what it's like to live in a world that needs a compassionate Savior. More importantly, I have a heavenly Father who will not abandon me because I may get dirty while walking through this world. I have a God who is not afraid to get the divine hands dirty while lifting me from the muck and mire of my life. This God; Father, Son, Spirit can be trusted with our very lives because Jesus is Emmanuel.

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