Why did you leave RISD

Sermon on Mark 15:34

Pastor Ulrich Parzany


"A scream tears the world apart"

And around the ninth hour Jesus called out loudly and said: "Eli, Eli, lama asabthani?" This is translated: "My God, my God, why did you leave me?"
Mark 15:34

It cannot be said that the crucifixion scene on Golgotha ​​had a devout calm. But to a certain extent there was a calm of self-confidence about it.

The people who instigated and was responsible for what happened were sure that what they were doing was right. And now they had the situation firmly under control. There are better things than execution, but sometimes a necessary evil is required to maintain law and order. And in this sense the calm of self-confidence lay over the story: That has to be the case.

And now they have turned off the air for Jesus. Now they no longer need to fear that he will turn the people wild. He no longer creates a popular movement! You don't need to expect any criticism from him, he doesn't have that much air left to sound big.

Such thoughts convey a calm of self-confidence: We are done with that. We have that under control.

And the cry of Jesus drives into this self-confidence and tears the world apart.

A rift between the father and the son
What is the most salient feature of Jesus' life and ministry? Many things have happened, something new every day. But what goes through, what really determines the picture, is the unique harmony, the unique correspondence in which Jesus lives with the Father. It begins with the father saying, "You are my dear son, whom I am well pleased with." He doesn't say that about anyone else. But that's what God says of Jesus.

It continues with the unheard-of authority with which Jesus speaks. No prophet ever spoke like this. The prophets say, “Thus saith the Lord.” That is a lot. But there is something else entirely about Jesus. No one has ever been able to speak out of God like this, like his voice, to embody the word of God, like to speak the word of God, like Jesus did: "But I tell you!"

It is from this unique agreement with the Father that he commands the stormy sea. The force of nature must obey him. From this unique harmony he commands leprosy, and the sick person becomes clean and healed of this terrible disease. Out of this agreement with the will and the creative power of God he speaks a word of power, and the eyes of the blind open, the deaf can hear.

And the climax is when he says: "This is my food, that I should do the will of him who sent me."

They belong together so much. You have to make this clear to yourself to understand who Jesus is. To also understand what he is saying and what the weight of his words and deeds lies. This unique correspondence between the father and the son, this unique community that is what is special.

And now he screams: "My God, my God, why did you leave me?" And please, it doesn't just seem like he's abandoned, he really is abandoned.

We play down the crucifixion story when we think that it may just seem to Jesus that God has abandoned him. The gravity of the situation is that he is actually forsaken by God. And that is so terrible, it is so strange that it can be felt right down to the wording. He can no longer find his own words for this unspeakable need.

When we talk about our suffering, about our difficulties, it is usually a subject that we talk about with eloquence and endlessly. That puts the words on our lips.

Jesus is in a gravity, in a depth of need, that he is no longer able to formulate his own words. In his helplessness he reaches for a sentence from the 22nd Psalm. There is this prayer scrap literally like this: "My God, my God, why did you leave me?"

Jesus can't quite get this psalm out either, he doesn't even get three verses, not even a whole sentence. He's shouting those scraps of prayer that aren't even his own words.

And as if the evangelists wanted to preserve all the strangeness and inhumanity of this prayer cry, they keep it firmly in the Aramaic language. Also in Greek - the Gospels are written in Greek - the Aramaic wording is originally used. And in the German text, the scream is first reproduced in Aramaic and then translated. One wonders why? We're not supposed to get tutoring in Aramaic.

You can feel how incredibly strange this was that the evangelists have to hold on to it and say: So it was! Everything was imaginable, anything could have happened, anything, but not this: Jesus is alone.

God is active in passion. He deals. He is leaving Jesus. In the context of this text it is reported that the whole country was dark from the sixth to the ninth hour (i.e. from twelve o'clock in the afternoon to three o'clock in the afternoon according to the hour counting at that time). We must see this darkness in the biblical context as the darkness of God's final judgment.

If you look at it this way, it becomes clear that this is not about an inner challenge to Jesus, but that it is about reality: God has forsaken him. Jesus is under judgment. He's cursed. He's the rebel outcast. Jesus is fully one with sin.

The cry is so unbearable to us, and the fact that Jesus is really forsaken by God is so illogical, so little Christian, so little understandable that we always try to evade it somehow. Of course, there is also the possibility of softening the harshness by saying: At least he is still calling "my" God. After all, there is some trust in that.

But that's where it lies. There is no doubt that there is still trust in Jesus, that he will turn to God and not curse him. But that contrasts with the fact that God has forsaken him. That's the terrible thing about this story! God holds judgment. He expels his son. There is nothing to gloss over.

I have the impression that we often don't know what to do with the crucifixion of Jesus because we cannot withstand this fact, because we prefer to make our pious rhyme about it instead of trying to stop and endure what is happening.

Is that bad when our logical ideas, our pious edifice, our Christian worldview fly apart? Is it bad that you stand in front of it and say: Now I don't understand anything anymore?

Let us withstand this incomprehensible, that he who lived like no other in communion with God, who is the only Son of God, is pushed away by God into the night. He is treated as a rebel, as if he has carried out every filth and every lie and every form of rebellion against God and the rejection of God. He is pushed away. His cry shows us the rift between the father and the son.

The scream breaks the calm of the habit
A friend gave me a great picture that I can use to make it clear what we are dealing with in this text. Salvador Dali, a Spanish painter who is one of the so-called surrealists, created a giant picture of the crucifixion of Jesus as one of his last works. The upper three quarters of the picture is dominated by a black-brown background.

And then the crucified one in a perspective I have never seen him before. The flesh shining yellow. You don't see the face, you look at the neck. The head sinks forward. One looks from above at the cross and the corpse that has sunk to the front. It looks ghostly, how this black of the background, the night of the court, and this hideous, in an embarrassingly naturalistically painted corpse hang in oversize over the world.

And then - that is the typical way of the Surrealists, that they depict screaming opposites, downright insane, crazy and illogical things together in their pictures - then in the lower quarter of this picture you see a romantic, idyllic, harmless, naive landscape. A large, deep blue lake, mountains all around, a boat in front on the beach, two or three figures stand around as harmlessness in person in the picture.

At first glance, this composition appears scandalous. And I read a text about it in which art viewers declare that this depiction is downright blasphemous in its provocative contradictions.

But here I have to say: in this case the critics may understand a lot about art, but little about faith. At least I have seldom seen a picture in which the deep distress of the crucified was depicted in such a provocative way as in this painting by Salvador Dali.

That is our problem: on the one hand, this terrible night of distance from God, of God's judgment on the cross, is raging and the cry of Jesus being forsaken by God tears the world apart - and that next to it our world of harmlessness, sentimental pettiness, naivety comes to an end, as if this night of judgment did not exist. As if none of this were real. When you see them side by side in the picture, you say to yourself: That can't be true! And when you look into your own life, you have to say: But it's reality.

Let me quote Hermann Bezzel, who wrote the following about this word of Jesus: "I never knew what sin was, it was easy for me, so I took it lightly. The empty word , the loose speech, the impure thought, the bitter envy, the disdainful anger, the empty arrogance, it was all so easy for me, and He (Jesus) weighed it down so hard. "And then Bezzel continues:" I lived in the comfort of getting used to it, until I woke up under the cross. "

That is exactly our problem. Getting used to even the worst of living conditions always creates a feeling of well-being. And that is the deep tragedy of human life that we feel comfortable in the dirt, in the lies and destruction of our life, in the half-measures and the compromises, in the injustices and carelessness, because we have got used to them.

And that even the longing dies in us, that it may be different, that is actually the worst. "I lived in the comfort of getting used to ..."

The cry of Jesus in the forsaken God must and wants to tear us out of this habit. Every life will have to wake up like this before it can be okay. And if we have not yet understood how lost our life is, the decisive course of our life has not yet taken place.

Let me say this very clearly: It's not about your Christian approval. It's not about saying yes to Christian morals, ethics and worldview. It is about that you and I, that we wake up in the face of the crucified Christ and understand how serious it is about our guilt. That we finally stop playing down, glossing over and talking away from sin, that we confess sin before God and before people, repent, break with the past and ask for forgiveness from the crucified one. The cry of the crucified one wants to tear us out of sleep, out of well-being in the habit.

There is a Christian habit to sin that is appalling. We set up. We can endure sitting in worship Sunday after Sunday and not clearing up our sins during the week. Keep living in adultery, keep stealing, keep living a lie. Continue to practice unjust practices in our profession. There is a diabolical form of Christian habituation to sin.

Here we hear the cry of Jesus who is tearing the world apart. He wants to tear us out of our habit of sin. I have the trust that the living Lord, who has promised to be present in his holy spirit, will re-articulate this cries of his cross in all of us, re-screaming it so that it will tear apart the sleep of our habits.

We are torn
The cry that tears the world apart is a signal that here in this crucifixion of Jesus our lost, wasted life is actually torn apart.

Let me use another picture. The scream isn't just a blank shot, it's a fatal shot. It hits our old life perfectly. Paul says it like this _ and it is unheard of: "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us."

God does not do that with any of us, that He puts us so completely at one with our sin. With us, he distinguishes between the sin we have committed and the broken, rebellious creature that he loves and that he wants to save. He distinguishes between sin and the sinner. He hates sin and loves the sinner.

Something completely different happens on Golgotha. God does not make Jesus a sinner, but a sin. He looks at him and sees only lies, only sees dirt, only adultery, theft, hatred and murder. He makes him sin and kills him. That is the unheard of and the terrible thing about this story.

And now we are told that this is our life that is condemned on the cross. Jesus becomes our sin, he gets our guilt pumped into him and is executed for it. From this we can see that God does not gloss over anything in our old, broken, godless life, does not paper anything, does not patch anything. But he tore it up. He destroyed it, executed it.

And the cry of Jesus: "My God, why did you leave me ?!" is the echo of this real godforsakenness. God dismissed him. He has done away with the sin, the sin called Jesus. He is you in person. With him our sin is done away with. And now we can live.

It's an experience like no other. Now I no longer have to ask: what should I do to pay off my debt, how do I come to terms with my past? But suddenly I can stand there in awe and realize: My whole old, dirty, depraved and haughty life, which God displeases, which he hates, is torn in Jesus. That does not exist anymore.

Do we now want to spend the rest of our lives trying to patch up and restore what God has torn?

We would rather go and say: "Lord, I thank you that you have torn what I could not tear apart. I thank you that I am now allowed to live anew in fellowship with you, that I am new and obedient from the death of Jesus and receive righteous life. "

There are always people who are offended because God is ruining their beautiful old life. You don't even get the impression that it needs to be torn up. They think it belongs in the museum, that's how beautiful it is. But then God tears up their lost life, and they stand there and are offended, do not want that and continue to live in the old rut as if nothing had happened.

You see, Jesus is not asking us to start something new. Rather, we are faced with the fact that he let our old life tear apart in God's judgment and that we are therefore now free to begin anew.

I would like to ask you sincerely that we do not let this happen in vain. That we do not begin to mend what is torn, but that we live the new life that exists in communion with Jesus. We want to hang on to him. Please do it!

Oh Lord, wake us where we sleep in habituation and comfort and adaptation. Open our eyes much more than to our sin to your love and to your liberating act that has happened. I thank Lord that no one can undo it and that we can all claim it anew for ourselves today.

Amen.