FORSAKEN FOR OUR SAKE
by J. Quisumbing
The disciple whom the prisoner loves was hot and sweating profusely. He slowly scanned the sky. The sun should be shinning a quarter down from it’s zenith at this ninth hour, but the sky was unusually dark due to heavy cloud cover. The heat should be normally dry which he preferred, but the humidity in the air was thick and heavy. If it felt bad for himself, (looking up to his master on the cross) how much more worse for him.
Since midnight, the disciple tried to stay with his teacher, his master… his proclaimed friend… after his arrest in the olive grove garden by the Temple guards by order of the High Priest. He followed them to the grand house of the high priest and managed to get in because he was kin to his household. It was hard for the disciple to just standby and watch him go through a contemptable farce of a trial that the religious leaders held against his master through most of the night. He hated it most when they mocked him, hit him on the head, spat on his face, then handed him over to the foreigners for execution, who nailed him to a cross on execution hill. This was where he found him when he went to fetched the prisoner’s mother.
Looking up again at the master, he saw a look that he had never seen on him before. He saw a desperate look of despair and forlorn, like he was carrying the weight of the world. Then he watched him look up, take a rasping breath and shouted out to the heavens…
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
(My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?)
The disciple heard scared voices from the crowd behind him. Some thought that the master was calling for Elias (Elijah). Elijah was a great prophet of old who called out for fire from heaven to smote his enemies and was carried into heaven in a fiery chariot. They searched the skies for Elijah riding on that same chariot to destroy them and save him. The disciple knew otherwise.
He recognized the master’s words from the Scriptures. It was from a psalm written by King David long time ago (Psalm 22:1). Somehow, he knew that his master, who hung on the cross in such agony was not calling out blame, but instead he was calling out for all to hear that prophecy… The Prophecy made by Isaiah (Isaiah 53)… was being fulfilled here.
The disciple understood. Many a times, the master had predicted that he would be handed over and put to death. He and the other disciples strove to prevent this from happening but to no avail. He realized that this was what the master wanted to happen. For months, the master challenged the religious leaders of their hypocrisy, daring them to act. They did act and had succeeded but it was not of their design. He gazed up at the cross. This was the Lord’s doing. This was his plan.
He now understood what the Baptist meant when he declared him to be the ‘Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29), except that unlike the lambs offered as sacrifices at the Temple, this lamb had a will. And he willed to offer himself to take our place. Tears pooled in his eyes. He thought of what his master truly had to endure. He realized that the words he uttered were not because of physical pain. The real pain was being truly cut off from the presence of God… his Heavenly Father. What was most incredible was that the Lord God turned his back on his Son for love of us. It was then he heard his master’s voice echoing in his mind saying…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
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