Posted by: Dan | March 11, 2005

<i>Jeremiah</i> 20.9

Just before pronouncing the tetelestai, Jesus' dying words in John's Gospel are these:

I thirst.

And I wonder…
I wonder if those who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are bound to die thirsty. I wonder if they are bound to die unsatisfied, empty, panting with a thirst that goes unquenched.

In Matthew's Gospel Jesus dies crying,

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

And I wonder…
I wonder if those who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are bound to die forsaken. I wonder if they will always be hoping for God to break in, for God to come and enact a radical transformation, a radical act of salvation – only to die abandoned by God.

Dying of thirst. Dying alone. It makes one think twice about following Jesus… and helps explain why so many twist following Jesus into something else.

Still there is this assurance:

Those who hunger and thirst shall be satisfied.
And forsakenness itself can be transformed into an experience of intimate love.
The way of glory is the way of the cross.
And those who would gain their lives must lose them first.

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Responses

  1. Do you think at the time when Jesus said “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” that it was in those pinnacle moments that Jesus laid down his life for his friend God, and at that moment it was no longer a Father son relationship but a friend relationship and that is kinda how the trinity works, because now they are equals …kind of random but maybe at that moment it was the feeling of thirst Jesus had was so overwhelming that it proved to God he was a real friend and not just his son…I dunno hard to explain as always but maybe God is doing this to see how thirsty we are? How far will we take it?

    Egg

  2. Egg!

    Hey, I’m glad you’re thinking about things from the perspective of the Trinity. That doctrine is certainly unique to Christianity and I think it does have serious implications for living Christianly.

    However, I would use different language to describe what you’re describing. I think the thing about the crucifixion that the Father and Son share equally is suffering. The Son suffers the forsakenness of the Father, but the Father suffers the loss of his beloved Son.

    I’m also uncomfortable with the suggestion that we suffer so that God can see how thirsty we are. Of course the “why” of suffering requires a rather extended answer and I’m too brain-dead to attempt that right now.

  3. “I wonder if those who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are bound to die forsaken. I wonder if they will always be hoping for God to break in, for God to come and enact a radical transformation, a radical act of salvation – only to die abandoned by God.”

    This seems slightly different then the Sunday school Jesus and God the Father who are waiting to bless you with happy sun shine and puppy dogs.
    I think part taking the journey called being a christian is accepting that feeling of being forsaken, but I believe the journey only really beings when you realize it’s not all about you. It becomes more than a feel good story, but rather understanding that we are called to places that the none God empowered would have no reason to go. In these places that forsakenness is ever-present but we need not succumb to our feelings, but conversely transcend above them. This is done by allowing God to break in and radically transform who you are (thus, the constant feeling of wanting God to break in and enact a radical transformation).
    Do followers of Jesus die forsaken? Sure, but I don’t believe by God.
    If not God then who? Possibly the world, family, themselves but I don’t believe the feeling comes from the lack of God’s touch on our lives.
    Having said all that I believe that the forsaken felling is the reason we continually need allow God to break in and transform us. We need to understand where this forsaken felling comes from and why we feel forsaken and ask what next. I believe that if we live for God to break in, he will. And, if that is the cases than rather than dying abandoned by God we will die being called by God. Just a thought
    THE HULK

  4. Hulk!!!

    Man, I’m so glad you are finally writing some of your thoughts down here! I miss you. We’ll be able to connect one day, I promise.

    I think you do a good job of flushing out elements of Christian forsakenness, and I very much like your affirmation that we “die being called by God.” And so you write:

    Do followers of Jesus die forsaken? Sure, but I don’t believe by God.

    Here’s why I don’t fully affirm your answer to that question. Even though it is family/friends/the world that forsake Christians there is still an element of godforsakenness to that because God does not intercede, God does not prevent us from the sufferings that come with being forsaken by family/friends/the world. Sure, Jesus was condemned by the Jewish religious leaders, abandoned by his followers, and crucified by the Roman soldiers – but he cries out that it is God who has forsaken him. Why? Because God could have intervened and did not.

    However, that very act of abandonment can be understood as an element of intimate love (I won’t go into detail here, I’ll save that for my thesis). I also agree that if we live for God to break in that he will. However, sometimes that in-breaking looks like us dying forsaken, thirsty and alone. We can die both forsaken and called by God.

    I’m always happy to hear more from you. I always learn when I talk with you. Much love.

  5. interesting….if this is the case, why the hell is it so difficult to know? Why is it so against our genetic make up? Why would God make it so friggin complex? that pisses me off.


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