Why Have You Forsaken Me?

2017.04.09 - 1HBSMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me?
(Psalm 22.1)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 22.1-22
Isaiah 45.21-25
Philippians 2.5-11
Matthew 26.36-75

I wonder how many times Jesus asked himself the following question in the week leading up to his crucifixion: Why am I having to go through this?

Sometimes I think we have this assumption that Jesus spent his life going through the motions as if reading from a script.

“Let’s see… Today I am to go down to Galilee and heal some people when I get there. Oh yes, then tomorrow it looks like the schedule says I need to teach some people.”

I think taking such a view removes some of the significance that Jesus was divine, yet he was also fully human. I cannot explain how that happens, but I believe the humanity of Jesus caused him to not only be tempted in every way like we are (Hebrews 4.15) but to also have some control over the ways he lived his life. If this is true—and I think the gospels demonstrate that it is—then Jesus’ last week must have been one that was full of anxious anticipation. He knew what was to come and quite frankly, I am not sure he was excited about the consequences at hand.

If you know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, you know that one of the seven last words he spoke was a quotation of Psalm 22.1, as seen above. He did not quote the entire psalm, just the first half of the first verse: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One can take this in a couple of different ways. The first would be to assume the abandonment by God in the precise moment that Jesus died. There are all kinds of theological arguments made for such a view, each trying to point out that Jesus suffered while going through death for our salvation.

The second thought about this quote of Jesus is that when one would quote a portion of a psalm, that entire psalm would come into the minds of those who heard the quotation. If this is the case, then we cannot simply stop at the idea of abandonment, but must also include the psalmist’s words that God is “enthroned as the Holy One” (v. 3) and that the writer would “declare [God’s] name to [his] people.” (v. 22) This second view probably gets closer to what Jesus was expressing with his quote on the cross. This idea is further enhanced when we look at the Philippian passage from today’s reading.

Many of us are familiar with these verses, which many scholars believe was originally a song that Paul used within his letter. The gist of the song goes like this: Jesus was God (we read this truth expressed all throughout Scripture) yet, he did not hold on to his “godness.” Instead, he gave it up (literally: emptied himself) so that he could be a sacrifice for us. This was an act of obedience, by the way. We might assume that if we knew we were to be glorified after the fact (see verses 9-11), then it would be easy to give up the life we currently have for the moment. I believe—whatever Jesus knew about what was to come—he was willing to give up his life, even if there was no guarantee for something in the future.

Which brings us full circle to my original question. How many times have you asked yourself: Why do I have to go through this? It is easy for us to assume that our lives, once we have committed to following Jesus, suddenly become heavy with the responsibilities of being good and not sinning and the like. We can also swing to the other side of the pendulum and assume that because we follow Christ, our lives will be nothing but joy and pleasantries. If something goes wrong, we think that God must have abandoned us. Both ways of thinking are filled with the dangers of overgeneralization, as well as the possibilities of missing God at work.

Perhaps a better question to ask, then, is: How can I remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to me throughout my day?



•Would you say you spend your time more in the first part of Psalm 22 (the one lamenting God’s forsaking you) or the latter part (where you rejoice in the assembly, praising God)? Why is this the case? In what ways have you been able to find a balance between these two extremes?

•How do Isaiah’s words that deliverance comes “in the Lord alone” provide comfort for you? In what ways have you tried to find deliverance in other things besides God? How has God shown himself as the only one who provides you deliverance and strength?

•How have you been able to take on the same mindset as Christ in your relationships with one another?

•As you read through our reading from Matthew, what stands out to you, even if you have read these verses many times before? How do you see Christ’s humility displayed in these verses?

•How do you remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to you throughout the day?

Week of April 9 — Text List

The 1 Home Bible Study texts for the week of April 9 are as follows:

Psalm 22:1-22
Isaiah 45:21-25
Philippians 2:5-11
Mathew 26:36-75

Daily Bible Reading Texts are:

Apr. 10 – Psalm 36:5-10; Isaiah 42:1-9; Hebrews 11:39-12:3; Mark 14:3-9
Apr. 11 – Psalm 71:1-12; Isaiah 49:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Mark 11:15-19
Apr. 12 – Psalm 69:6-21; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Hebrews 9:11-28; John 13:21-35
Apr. 13 – Psalm 78:14-25; Exodus 12:1-14a; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Luke 22:14-30
Apr. 14 – Psalm 40:1-13; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:1-25; John 18:1-40
Apr. 15 – Psalm 130; Job 14:1-14; 1 Peter 4:1-8; John 19:38-42

From the Depths…

20170402 - 1HBS

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.(Psalm 130.1-2)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 130
Ezekiel 37.1-14
Romans 6.16-23
John 11.1-34

Perhaps you have seen a movie that shows a character falling into a body of water, a swimming pool or perhaps the lake where the family is taking summer vacation. There is an initial shock or struggle to swim, but eventually, the character resigns himself or herself to their “fate” and sort of drifts effortlessly along, as if taking a stroll in a water garden. Of course someone reaches into the water and saves the individual from their time of blissful peace, but for a moment, it was almost like life in the midst of certain demise was nothing but peace and comfort.

Psalm 130 is not that moment. In fact, none of the passages we read today are that moment. They are, collectively, moments of fear and doubt. They most likely include struggle in the face of what appears to be the end, but yet we long for that not to be the case. In our minds, there is no possible way life can change for us, yet we discover through the power of God, it does. Let’s look at each passage individually.

In Psalm 130, I get the picture that the writer is struggling against certain doom. He is in the depths because of his sins. The picture of “the depths” is an appropriate one, I believe. If you have ever been in a situation where you thought drowning was imminent (I have), there is nothing peaceful or blissful about it. You are in an all out struggle to find a way back to the top of the water. If you take lifeguard training, one of the dangers they repeatedly warn you about is not drowning itself, but the people who are drowning. They are in a panic and will try anything to keep from doing so, even if that means taking you down with them.

Notice the writer of the psalm does not blame poor choices or even a life in which he was dealt a lousy set of cards. No, the problem the writer is facing is of his own doing, yet he longs to find rescue.

Ezekiel is taken to a field of dry bones. Obviously life is not found in abundant in such circumstances, yet the Spirit of the Lord asks Ezekiel: Can these bones live?

Let’s think about that for just a moment. I am not sure how many “come-back-to-life” stories Ezekiel had experienced. I know there are some such stories mentioned in the Old Testament, but they do not seem to be an everyday occurrence. I do think, however, that no matter how many of these stories he might have seen, since the field was full of dry bones, life was probably the last thing on Ezekiel’s mind.

Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: “the wages of sin is death” (6.23). This is the same guy who just a couple of chapters earlier mentioned: “all have sinned” (3.23). So if all sin and sin leads to death, well, the outcome of this equation does not seem like a good one, does it?

Finally, Jesus comes to the tomb of Lazarus and seeks to bring him back to life. Martha, seeing the world through the only lens she knew to look through, that of her own experiences, is quick to point out her brother Lazarus has been dead for four days. You can read her mind: Jesus, if you had been her the first or perhaps the second day, maybe there would have been a chance, but four days into this death and you might as well be talking to a field of dry bones. It ain’t happening.

What would you have done in any of the four situations we find in the readings for today? Would you doubt the ability of God to rescue you? Would you have thought the odds were just too much against you for things to change? Would you have given up and tried to accept your fate in a scene of bliss?

Whatever your circumstances, remember these things. Though you may feel your sin is overwhelming and so numerous they drag you down, God can deliver you from them. Though you may see nothing but dry, dead bones in your life—in whatever situation you find yourself—God can bring life to that which has been given up for dead. Though your sins may seem deadly pulling you completely away from any hope of a relationship with God, nothing, absolutely nothing separates you from his love. And though every experience you are familiar with seems to indicate the impossible cannot be done, God hasn’t even started so take away the stone.



•If God does not keep a record of sins, why do we spend so much time doing so? How can we better condition ourselves to trust God’s ability to redeem us from our sins?

•Describe a time in your life when you were as good as dried bones littering an empty field. How did God breathe his life back into your life?

•Do you think people often think about the wages of sin before engaging in them? Why do you think this is the case and how would things be different if they did? How can you cling to God’s gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus more?

•Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead is the seventh of seven signs he does in the gospel of John. Why do you think this sign resonates so much with the people who read John’s gospel for the first time and why do you think is resonates for us today? How do we keep from assuming that someone, some situation, or perhaps even our own faith is dead and so far gone it is doing nothing but rotting in a tomb?

Week of April 2 — Text List

The 1 Home Bible Study texts for the week of April 2 are as follows:

Psalm 130
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Romans 6:16-23
John 11:1-44

Daily Bible Reading Texts are:

Apr. 3 – Psalm 31; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Romans 9:19-23; John 9:1-17
Apr. 4 – Psalm 124, 125, 126, 127; Jeremiah 25:8-17; Romans 10:1-13; John 9:18-41
Apr. 5 – Psalm 128, 129; Jeremiah 25:30-38; Romans 10:14-21; John 10:1-18
Apr. 6 – Psalm 140, 142; Jeremiah 26:1-16; Romans 11:1-12; John 10:19-42
Apr. 7 – Psalm 141; Jeremiah 27:1-13; Romans 11:13-24; John 12:1-10
Apr. 8 – Psalm 137:1-9; Jeremiah 31:27-34; Romans 11:25-36; John 11:28-44