About three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
At a little before three o’clock Eastern Time on April 15th, death and pain blasted through scores of innocent people simply watching a sporting event in Boston. A cacophony of emotions pound in our ears: Where was God?
Christianity is the only religious faith that says that God himself actually suffered and cried out in suffering. What good is that? His followers standing around the cross came to see it as the greatest act of God’s love, power, and justice in history. God came into the world, suffered and died on the cross in order to save us. It is the ultimate proof of his love for us.
And when we suffer, we may be completely in the dark about the reason for our own suffering. It may seem as senseless to us as Jesus’ suffering seemed to the disciples; but the cross tells us what the reason isn’t. It can’t be that God doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he has abandoned us.
Jesus was abandoned so that God the Father would never abandon us. The cross proves that he loves us and understands what it means to suffer.
The late author Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name “Brennan.” While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together.
One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan’s life was spared.
When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name Brennan. Years later he went to visit Ray’s mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, “Do you think Ray loved me?”
Mrs. Brennan got up off of the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan’s face and shouted, “Jesus Christ—what more could he have done for you?!”
Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? And Jesus’ mother Mary pointing to her son, saying, “Jesus Christ—what more could he have done for you?”
The cross of Jesus is God’s way of doing all he could do for us. And yet we often wonder, Does God really love me? Am I important to God? Does God care about me?
And Jesus’ mother responds, “What more could he have done for you?”
We can’t comprehend the surpassing majesty of God, but we can relate to suffering because of sin. We suffer because of human sin (ours and others). He suffered because of human sin, not His, but ours and others. Good article Joe!
thanks for writing this joe, and for being brave enough to admit you’ve read brennan manning.