My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from my salvation, and from the words of my cry? Psalm 22:1
Spiritual death means being completely abandoned by God. Only once in the history of mankind did God abandon man, and that man was Jesus. Even if you tried, you couldn't imagine what it means to be abandoned by God. On the cross Jesus suffered God's punishment of hell in our place when he was abandoned by God.
There were many episodes in the life of King David, author of Psalm 22, who lived a thousand years before Christ, that could have served as the inspiration for the psalm. At the same time, there are clear signs that the psalm is much more than a reflection of David's life.
“They divided my clothes among themselves, and on my clothes they cast lots.” Psalm 22:18 This is a messianic prophecy, pointing to the “man of sorrows” of Isaiah 53, “smitten by God, and humbled” for our rebellions. All the psalms have a messianic aspect, but some specific ones that announced before hand the Passion of Jesus Christ as his victory over death and the forces of evil.
When Jesus shouted in the Aramaic language, some of those present again took advantage of the occasion to mock Him. They either deliberately or foolishly misunderstood or pretended to misunderstand to ask for Elijah's help. And while one of them, in his second cry for something to quench his thirst, felt pity enough to lift a vinegar-filled sponge to his lips, the others mockingly tried to hold him back by asking him to wait until they could see if Elijah really would come to help Jesus.
The Son of God was obliged to try and endure all the force, all the horror of divine wrath on the sins of mankind. What a deep humiliation for the eternal Son of God to enter the depths of eternal death and torment! But for having endured the torments of hell we have been set free, because in the midst of this terrible Passion he remained obedient to God and thus he conquered wrath, hell and damnation for us.
There are moments in our lives when we believe that God has abandoned us, like King David. But that is not the case. If God had truly abandoned us completely, we would not be alive and strong enough to cry out. If we are alive, breathing and able to pray, this is the evidence that God is still near. Only because of the Passion and death of our Lord do we have this confidence and the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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