“Why have you forsaken me?”
In a Bible study in New Jersey someone read the words Jesus cried from the cross, “Why have You forsaken me?” I was about 28, single, and about as lonely as you can get. I had been a Christian for five years but there was a lonely place that seemed not to be overturned or touched, until that night. I knew Jesus suffered my shame and sins, and even sickness, but did He suffer my aloneness? Not our “aloneness” but my own personal aloneness and your own personal aloneness. That feeling when we say, “Nobody is in here with me but me.” Maybe we all have suffered schizophrenia and autism to some degree. Or maybe that is just me, just me.
Why would Jesus choose that dark verse from Psalm 22 to be almost His last words?
Why not utter that last part of the Psalm about all the ends of the earth coming to worship the King? A bigger question is why would Mark and Matthew write it down? It is not embarrassing to admit our great leader did not die as a stoic but crying out from the depths of his bruised guts, “Why have You forsaken me? What are you so far away?” I think they wrote it down because that it what they heard him say. It was clear as a bell, אלי אלי למה סואחטאנ. And He cried it because He felt it. He breathed in our deep aloneness. Jesus cried out to heaven to have the door slammed in his face. And I am glad He did.
I would hate to wake up from an operation to hear a doctor say he couldn’t get all of the cancer, that it was too deep and he had to leave it there. Jesus rose again from the dead, being both the patient and the doctor, saying, “I got it all, even that aloneness that tries to hide deep in your bones.” He got it all. The doctors say schizophrenia is incurable and life long. Jesus said He got it.
The rest of Psalm 22 is shocking prophecy, describing his crucifixion in detail: his bones out of joint, his tongue stuck to the roof of his dry mouth, the soldiers gambling for his robe, his hands and feet pierced and the very words of the mockers, “Why don’t you deliver yourself.” David saw the cross a thousand years before crucifixion was even invented. And from the cross, Jesus saw further. He saw us.
When my sons suffered sickness or a broken heart, I wanted to suffer for them, but I could not. The Son of God wanted to suffer for us and did. Jesus started Psalm 22, “Why have you forsaken me?” and died, but I think He finished the Psalm on the way up from hell on Easter morning, “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done.” I was one of the people to be born. Someone declared to me what He had done. And from that night in the Bible study I knew would never be alone. I may feel alone, but deeper in the aloneness is Jesus with a crooked smile. When I leaned on that door that seemed slammed shut, it was open.
In 1994, the McMillan family traveled to the kidnapping, murder, and drug capital of the western hemisphere to plant a church and a foundation. God thought Medellin, Colombia a good place to raise a family. And turns out He was right (as He usually is). It became a very large family: The church, Comunidad (Community), is now the largest church in Medellin with over 8,000 members, the Foundation, Viento Fresco, cares for over 150 high-risk children, and a non-profit coffee shop, New Hearts Cafe, serves cups of caffeine and the love of Jesus to thousands of college students.
God is doing so much in Medellin, and we write about here on the Teammcmillan.org blog!