Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
There's a reason we read scriptures over and over. I've read these words of Christ on the cross probably hundreds of times in my life. I heard them. I've spoken them myself, butchering the Hebrew pronunciation, I'm sure. I've pondered the emotion behind them. I've considered the theological significance of them. I know these words.
But last night at church, they spoke to me again in a new way.
My God . . . my God . . . why . . . why have you forsaken me? Why did you call me here, to this place of horror, and then leave me alone? Why won't you come to me? Why?
The Bible has many troubling descriptions of hell -- fire and brimstone and such. But the one thing that is the heart of the nature of that Other Eternal Place is that it involves complete separation from God. And considering that God is the one and only source of all things good (love, beauty, compassion, peace, joy -- ALL THINGS GOOD . . . let the enormity of that sink in), there is nothing worse. Forget fire and brimstone; there is no hell greater than complete separation from all Goodness that exists.
We all have just a taste of that separation now, in life here on earth. Humanity chose, corporately, to live independent of God, and he obliged us to a certain extent. Because he loved us, though, he (like a good parent) left a door open and a light on for us to come back when we choose to do so.
Jesus on the cross, though. This was a different separation. This was more than the normal human ache of loneliness from the divine. He was bearing the burden of humanity's sin as he died, and the Father actually turned away. A complete separation. Jesus went through hell -- the separation from God, the true essence of hell -- while he hung on that cross. And he did it to open that door so that I would never have to experience that.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul . . . my life . . . MY ALL.