The Cry of Jesus (Mark 15:33-39)

I won’t forget that wailCross3.jpg.

I was a young minister who had just moved to a small town. One afternoon a young man from our church called and told me there had been a terrible accident. A friend of his had been checking the fences around his property. In the back of the truck was his young daughter. Somehow, she fell out of the truck while he was backing up. The unthinkable happened. Not realizing that she had fallen out, he ran over her. She died en route to the hospital.

A few nights later, my friend and I entered the funeral home. I heard the wail of this father weeping over his child.

There is nothing quite like the wail of grief that can erupt from a father for his child or a child for his mother or father.

So now everything is dark. From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness overshadowed the land. And into the darkness, the son of God cries out to his father as he approaches his own death.

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

Echoing the literature of lament in the Old Testament (such as Psalms, Lamentations and Habakkuk), Jesus cried out to his father asking an honest question. (Notice there is not editorial note in which the editor tells the reader, “Of course, he really shouldn’t have said this to God.”) This was the son of God with an honest cry from the cross.

Jesus’ cry was heard

  • By mockers who put wine vinegar on a stick and offered it to him.
  • By a centurion who declared “This man was certainly God’s son.”
  • By some women who had already cared for his needs and were ready to do what they could, again.

And yes, his cry was heard by his Father. The Temple curtain tore, no doubt a sign from God that this was a momentous event. Yes, God had heard his cry.

Some may have heard his cry, saw his death, and thought this to be the end of the story.

This was anything but the end.

(This post is a reflection on Mark 15:33-39 written for the Lenton Blog Tour. Or you may want to check out the Lenton Blog Tour Facebook Fan page. You can find it here. These reflections are based on the Common English Bible.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “The Cry of Jesus (Mark 15:33-39)

  1. Jim, was the “forsake me” cry a spiritual separation from the Father (for the three days before the resurrection), or merely allowing the physical death. When Jesus sweat blood in garden, was it because he knew of the impending doom that awaited him, taking on all sins before and after, and God’s turning his back on him? And what did Jesus do, in his spirit for these three days? Since he was rejected by the Father (meaning Death), was he in Hades (suffering or in Abraham’s bosom), Hell, or someplace else? I’ve wondered about this for years, and your theological training would be helpful, even though we probably will not know for sure, until the end.

    • Johnny, great questions. (By the way, I really like Rex’s response to this.) There has been a lot of speculation about the meaning of Jesus’ words from the cross.

      As I read his words, I think of the literature of lament in the OT. Many of the Psalms, Lamentations, and the book of Habakkuk. In moments of intense suffering, the people of God knew they could cry out honestly to God. They could lay bare every emotion of the moment without fear that God would reject them.

      I think this cry was about the culmination of the purposes of God for generations about to rest upon Jesus as he dies for the world and its brokenness. What happened between him and God at that moment is difficult, just as it is difficult to describe that intensity of the relationship of the Father/Son/Spirit before that moment.

      Regarding exactly where he went is something I really am unsure of. Biblical scholars have wrestled with this and there are good theories but nothing that I can be certain about.

  2. Great thoughts!

    Johnny, I know all the possible meanings that theologians and biblical scholars attach to Jesus’ lament from the cross. Perhaps their right, perhaps their not. I understand this lament from a different angle though because 8 years ago my wife and I lost our first child who died unexpectedly at the age of 3 days old. After investing nine months in faithful prayer to God for your unborn child only to watch him die, we felt like God just complete ignored us, turned his back on us, forsook us…and our son. It wasn’t about whether God actually did or did not but about the feeling/experience. Whether God actually separated himself from Jesus or not I cannot answer with any certainty nor do I know any others who can (and I weary of those who claim they can) but I feel like I understand something of how Jesus must have felt in his humanness, after investing himself faithfully in his Father’s mission and then for it all to come to this…being crucified.

    I hope that helps.

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts