Darkness covered the earth like a blanket for three hours. It was better not to see the sunlight glinting off the drops of blood or illuminating the three contorted faces. If only it could deaden the sounds – the gasps, the grunts, the cries.
Out of the struggle, Jesus speaks for the first time in hours.
In Aramaic: “Eloi, eloi, lama sabbachthani?”
In English: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
A direct quote from Psalm 22. The connection would not have been lost on the people who were gathered. That psalm captures in vivid color the struggle of one who feels forsaken. Forsakenness makes life unbearable.
The line that follows, but that people would have filled in like the next line of a well-known song: “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
We know that answer. Jesus needed to suffer the punishment we deserve. And that means forsakenness. Decades later, Jesus is quoted, “He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5).
There is courage in that. It is a horrible feeling to feel alone. It would be an even more horrible feeling to be alone.
Jesus was alone, so that we would never be alone.
You are not alone.