{RE:} Reflect on a Forsaken Christ

Good Friday: A Forsaken Christ

Can you believe the journey we've been on? Six weeks of digging deeper as we anticipate the resurrection and ask God for revival of our souls and all the places we occupy.

This morning, I want to reflect on a moment recorded in two of the Gospels. It's one of the traditional "Seven Last Words" of Christ from the cross. Today we will read Scripture and reflect in 2 parts.

Read:  Matthew 27: 47-50

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last


Matthew tells us that, for three hours while Jesus suffered, there was an intense darkness. It seems like creation is echoing the pain that Christ is experiencing. After hours of this terrifying darkness, Jesus cries out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Had God actually abandoned his only beloved son in that moment? Was Jesus experiencing the full weight of human suffering? Have you ever looked at a situation and thought, "Where is God?" An earthquake in an already impoverished area. An innocent child diagnosed with cancer. A pregnant woman bombed out of her labor and delivery... A perfect, innocent man dying on a cross he did not deserve.

  • Have you ever experienced a pain so deep that you wondered if God had left you?
  • Take a moment to reflect on the fact that Jesus experienced this same darkness in his life so that he could redeem your dark moments through his death and resurrection.
  • When Jesus breathed his last, the veil of the temple was torn and our relationship with God was restored. It is often in the darkest moments, when we cry out and experience the greatest move of God.

Jesus' words from the cross are actually the opening line of Psalm 22, a song of desperate lament that gives way to exuberant praise. Let's read part of it below.

Read: Psalm 22: (selected verses)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.

Future generations will be told about the Lord,
they will come and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.


In a moment of complete agony, when words may have failed, Jesus relied on this ancient song. Jesus turned to prayer in his suffering, using words that had been sung by so many through generations. The psalms of lament are an incredible tool that can help us pray when we don't know what to say. They can give us words when our faith is shaken.

  • Is there a song that brings you comfort or hope when you are walking in dark seasons?

But there's more here, I think. Have you ever heard someone sing the opening line of a song and you can't help but finish it? The Psalms were a central part of Israel's culture and faith, much like the beloved hymns and/or worship songs we sing even now.

Jesus knew the Psalms. The people who followed him would have known the Psalms. And I have to believe that, when they heard him say those words, at least some of the on-lookers might have started to sing the rest of the psalm.

This psalm that begins in agony moves to a declaration of trust in God. Then the psalm closes with this incredible vow of praise - a promise to declare God's goodness and call others to worship him. The psalmist ends by saying that "future generations" will be told about the Lord, that his deliverance would be shared with people who are not yet born. That all the nations would declare "HE HAS DONE IT."

Is there hope to be found in this unbearable moment of agony? I wonder if any of Jesus' followers heard his cry and began to sing. I wonder if they got to the trust and the praise and felt even a glimmer of hope? I wonder if they realized that the song ends with God's victory? I wonder if they sang the last line and thought "He has done it.... WAIT HAS HE?"

I wonder if they felt a sense of comfort when they realized - they knew the end of the song.

Friends. Jesus teaches us from the cross, that sometimes worship is a protest against the darkness and anguish of our world. Sometimes prayer that begins with a shout of pain ends with the shout of praise. Jesus teaches us that we can hold on. Because we know the end of the song. 


My Lord Jesus Christ,
   two graces I ask of you before I die:
   the first is that in my life I may feel,
      in my soul and body, as far as possible,
      that sorrow which you, tender Jesus,
       underwent in the hour
       of your most bitter passion;
   the second is that I may feel in my heart,
      as far as possible,
   the abundance of love with which you,
      son of God, were inflamed,
      so as willingly to undergo
      such a great passion
      for us sinners.

- St. Francis of Assisi


Susan Blais - April 15th, 2022 at 4:45am

I never really realized that the last seven words of Christ were the beginning of a song. I have many songs that have spoken to me throughout my life, but I am sure none as poignant as these words. I would like to think that even through their sorrow that the onlookers continued on with the song at that time. One of my dark times was when my second kidney transplant was failing. I was down in Baltimore at John’s Hopkins and was alone with no family or friends. It was most difficult because this kidney was donated by Colleen, and I knew that it would make her very sad knowing that the kidney was failing. It made me sad too, Because it meant that I had to go back on dialysis, probably for the rest of my life. But thankfully I had brought my music with me, and I would constantly walk the hallways singing worship songs. My soul was refreshed and restored during these hallway walks. And I always was able to sing “because he lives, I can face tomorrow“. Of course, this doesn’t even compare to what my Jesus went through for me, but it is a part of my healing process. Thank you, Pastor Kaitlyn, for putting together this beautiful study. I loved it when I did it last year, but I loved it even more this year. I hope you will continue to give us this Five – 5–6 experience next year too! To ucc

David Edelstein - April 15th, 2022 at 4:45am

What I learn is that God can handle our protests to him. But I usually never think to talk directly to Him; Jesus did with His Father. The Jewish people at that time complained amongst themselves about the oppression of the Romans. They expressed their bitterness against the tax collectors like Matthew. Father, when I come to you, help me to remember that you are faithful and true and you never hid Your face from me.

Melody - April 15th, 2022 at 6:44am

The song that comes to be as I think of this today is "The heart of worship". So often when I'm in a dark place, feeling cut off from God, it's because if my own flawed expectations of how life with Jesus ought to look. For sure there have been times when the worst situations happen, especially losing a loved one, that feel like--obviously God doesn't know what I need or care how I feel.

But at the core, it's not about me, it's about Jesus, it's about bringing the Kingdom in whatever way he sees fit. So when I'm struggling, and this song comes to mind, I feel peace.

Nick Tebordo - April 15th, 2022 at 7:09am

Psalm 22 is said to be a Psalm of David as a godly sufferer. When Jesus speaks these words, they begin a song that those who have ears to hear will know. In fact, checking it out this morning leads us to realize that Hebrews 2:12 attributes Jesus saying the words of Psalm 22:22! Once the Psalm is started, all of the words in it begin to form in our hearts and minds. While certainly these words express Jesus’ agony as He who knew no sin became sin, they also reflect His faith and trust in God! It is wonderful to see future generations (us!) included in these verses. The old hymn says,”When He was on the cross, we were on His mind!”. Thank you so much Kaitlyn! It has been a great study!

Peg - April 15th, 2022 at 7:13am

This is been a great time every morning waking up anticipating reading all of these beautiful messages that you were put together. Thank you Pastor Kaitlyn for all the time and love that you put in to this every day. So very grateful for at all. I find myself reading it in the darkness and just sitting here and letting it all go through my heart. Each day I also find myself after I read each one I go back to last year and read the same day. I have so many thoughts and I will so miss this time feeling apart. Thank you once again❤️🙏

Janet Nygren - April 15th, 2022 at 7:49am

It is so striking to me how Jesus' life and suffering captures the experience of all of us in different ways. He experienced it all so that we can turn to someone who has compassion and hope for us, whatever our situation. I read an article in the NYT this morning (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/opinion/easter-resurrection-good-friday.html) that goes well with the thoughts Kaitlyn presents here that I hadn't considered before, regarding the experience of the suffering of blacks in America over the decades. Esau McCaulley quotes a hip-hop artist Swoope saying, “Christ died in the blackest way possible, with his hands up and his momma there watching him.” I found that so moving. Even though I cannot claim to have suffered in the ways others have, I can point others to Jesus who has. And not just the suffering of Good Friday but the hope of resurrection on Easter Sunday that follows. We all will be like him might sound like bad news when it comes to suffering, but good news for the end of the story.

I echo the appreciation of others for all the work Kaitlyn put into these thoughts. Thank you also for those who were willing to share in the comments--I feel like I know you a little better through your thoughts.

Teri - April 15th, 2022 at 10:06am

I shared the prayer of St. Francis with my Facebook moms group of adult children with disabilities. Many of us are divorced single moms doing this mainly alone; a position which Jesus preached against. No one is meant to journey alone. I have reflected upon the death of Jesus from many different perspectives in my life, and your timing for this view has been divinely inspired, for sure. Thank you Kaitlyn for your thoughtful Lenten journey leadership with us all.




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