Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. – Luke 23:34
Truly, I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:43
Woman, behold your son. (Says to disciple) Behold thy mother. – John 19:26–27
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? – Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
I thirst. – John 19:28
It is finished. – John 19:30
Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. – Luke 23:46
These seven sayings of Jesus – his last recorded words before his death on the cross – each are worthy of a full meditation. They carry heavy truths that sink deep into the bedrock of our Christian faith. Jesus’ first word, “Father forgive them…” reveals not only the forgiving and compassionate heart of God, but also our blindness to the far-reaching impact of our sin. His last word, conveys not merely a resignation to the inevitable, but a peaceful confidence in God’s faithfulness and compassionate goodness.
When I consider all these words, one stands out to me more than all the others. Make no mistake: I believe that all of Jesus’ words are true, vitally important, and profoundly far-reaching in their impact. Certainly these last words of Jesus are all important to me. But when Jesus asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he reveals a perfect and complete faith that no one can match.
Jesus had done nothing wrong. He has obeyed his Father perfectly. He had taken the cup of God’s wrath and was drinking it. And in so doing, he entered into a place of total abandonment. Jesus was abandoned by God. And this agony was worst of all. It was far worse than the nails that pierced his hands and feet. It was far worse than the heavy burden of the cross he was made to cary to Golgotha. It was far worse than the thorn of crowns beaten into his scalp. It was far worse than the scourging he endured.
God abandoned Jesus in his greatest hour of need.
Here is what touches my heart and makes Jesus the truest hero of faith. For in that moment of utter abandonment, complete injustice, and horrific suffering, Jesus still calls God his God. “My God…” he cries. He did not abandon God in the hour of God’s abandonment of him. He continue to look to God. He called out to his God. He kept the faith.
I don’t have that kind of faith. I fail to keep faith as I should. But I have a true hero of faith, and I trust in him. I have a Savior who has perfect faith, and I trust him to be with me in my darkest hour and to reach out to me when I fail him.
Dear Father in Heaven, We thank you for Jesus’ perfect faith, his great love for you and for us all, and for the forgiveness and salvation he won for us by his innocent suffering and death, and his perfect obedience in our place. Give us good faith and complete courage so that we may face whatever troubles and challenges that lie ahead. Relieve us of this scourge. Grant us healing and hope; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.