Of all the last words of Jesus, the one that stands out in stark relief against the rest is the one that was most misunderstood at the time He said it.
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani!”
Those who stood nearby thought He was calling out for Elijah. Instead, He was crying out from the lowest depths of loneliness.
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). ~ Mark 15:34
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Can you hear the depths of loneliness? The deepest pain of rejection? He had a closer relationship with the Father than anyone else who has walked the earth. To have that deep, intimate connection severed, and severed suddenly, must have been physically painful.
Those who have lost close loved ones can tell you there’s a physical pain when the connection is severed, a pain unlike any other experienced by human beings. But to be forsaken during a moment of extreme suffering—that’s a pain few can endure.
But He endured it. And He endured it for a very specific reason.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
These words that Jesus spoke are the beginning of Psalm 22. He spoke them to evoke the entire Psalm in the memory of everyone listening. Although He probably knew the entire Psalm by heart, there was no way He could recite it while gasping for each breath, hanging on a cross.
Here is the rest of verse 1:
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish? (NIV)
Jesus felt that on the cross more poignantly than most imagine. He didn’t say these words just to point at the prophecy later on in the chapter,
I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots. (verses 14-16 NKJV)
Yes, these things really happened to Him, but He wasn’t unemotional or unaffected in the moment. Not only did David capture the events in prophecy, he captured the Son of David’s emotions.
Have you ever experienced rock bottom loneliness, where it seemed like there wasn’t a soul in the world on your side, or if there were, they couldn’t be with you in your moment of pain? Some people, when they hit that place of loneliness, harden their hearts so the pain of it isn’t as acute as it could be. Can you blame them? Because, let’s face it, that’s a brutal emotion.
If you’ve been there before, you can couple your own history alongside His and in that fellowship of suffering you can find deep intimacy with God.
If you’re going through that rock bottom loneliness right now, don’t give in to the temptation to compare it to the loneliness of another. Crawl into the arms of your Savior. He’s been there. He knows.
And let me pray for you.
Father, I pray especially for those who are reading this and are experiencing deep loneliness. I ask, Lord, that Your comfort would be with them, that they would have a profound sense of Your presence all around them. I also ask that you would bring brothers and sisters in Christ around them so that they will have tangible evidence of Your love. Amen!
After line upon line recounting unimaginable suffering, there is a turning point:
You have answered Me.
I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. (Psalm 22:21b-22)
He will answer you. He will surround you with fellowship. He will place a song of praise on your lips. You won’t have to bear this alone!
Because why did Jesus walk through this unimaginable separation?
He did it so He could be with you.