every aspect of the curse

The godhead is indivisible. God does not abandon his friends and loyal servants—much less His Son. Therefore, Jesus’ cry conveyed not an objective, reified condition of his being, but rather his human experience of distance from God. The abandonment was psychological, not ontological. It often happens that God’s friends and loyal servants feel abandoned, and they feel it very keenly. And when they do, they often enough have recourse to the book of Psalms . . . as Jesus does in the present case. When the Savior expressed this painful experience in prayer, the opening line of Psalm 22 arose to his lips—in Hebrew, ’Eli, ’Eli, lamah ‘azavtani—“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” He could hardly have prayed this line of the Psalter unless he knew the Father was still “my God.” In making this prayer his own, Jesus was hardly expressing a sentiment unique to himself. He was, rather, identifying himself with every human being who has ever felt alienated from God, abandoned by God, estranged from God. Jesus became, for us, what the ram in the thorns became for Isaac. That is to say, in making this very human prayer, Jesus expressed oneness with the rest of humanity so that (in the words of a Baptist friend of mine) “the full weight of the curse fell upon the Son as sin-bearer, the fulfillment of both the scapegoat, and the sacrifices of the old covenant. Jesus, thus, experienced every aspect of the curse: death, exile, broken communion with God.” Perhaps this prayer best expresses what we mean when we speak of “the days of his flesh” (Hebrews 5:7). It was in this deep sense of dereliction that we perceive, most truly, that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (John 1:14). After he prayed the first line of Psalm 22, did Jesus go on to finish that psalm silently? Christians have always suspected that this was the case.

…If Jesus did pray this short sequence of psalms, it took only a few minutes for him to reach Psalm 31:5, which Luke identifies as his final words on the cross: “Into Your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Indeed, I suspect that these were the very words—recorded by Luke—to which Matthew and Mark refer when they tell us: “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit.”

…John records another detail of the scene not mentioned by the other Evangelists: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (19:34). Taken together, then, John speaks of three things issuing forth from the Savior’s immolated body: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. These things have to do with the gathering of the church at the foot of the cross because this is the place where Jesus’ identity is truly known: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM” (John 8:28). These three components—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—appear also in the cover letter for John’s gospel as the “three witnesses” of the Christian mystery: “And there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three are one” (1 John 5:8). Speaking of the gathering of the church at the foot of the cross, Jesus had declared, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

From The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon.

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