Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 06/03/2000 info:
The Basilica of the Resurrection

"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" According to the Gospel of Mark these were the only words of Jesus while on cross.

Jesus prayed this psalm which recognizes that suffering on the cross is a real scandal for the Jewish consciousness. It is a true scandal because of its religious meaning. According to the Bible death on a cross is a curse: Cursed be the man who hangs on the tree. To die as crucified means to be rejected by God, to be excluded from the covenant, to be seen by everybody as an object of God’s curse. Jesus’ cry on the cross proclaims this scandal: Why did you forsake me?

In the Bible the just is continually put to test. One form of this trial is the experience of being forsaken by God. Being abandoned by God does not mean that Jesus is not the Messiah. On the contrary, it shows that like the just man Jesus was put to test. Jesus hanging on the cross who cries out his abandonment by God is also the man who during all his life called God Abba his Father. He lived in full communion with him and received the mission to reveal His presence to mankind. Jesus who cries out his abandon by God is also the one who had the experience of God’s nearness.

Jesus dies abandoned in the sense Jewish consciousness understood it. He was cut off from his people, cursed by God in the name of the Law. He dies as a sinner rejected in the outer darkness. Thus he is with mankind in its estrangement of God? He identifies himself with the lost mankind, condemned by the Law.

On his cross Jesus is on the side of all those who are excluded. He dies "ouside the gate". Jesus accepted this situation of a curse in order that his message should come to full meaning. His message is summarized in this sentence: God has become close to men not through the Law, but independently of the Law. On his cross Jesus gives God to mankind and to all those who are abandoned by God. He inaugurates the new covenant in His Blood. This new covenant is no longer based upon the Law, but upon grace.

During his passion Jesus was crowned with thorns. Thorns grew on earth after the curse of the first man. Jesus, the New Adam, takes upon himself the curse of the first man in order to bring blessings to all men.

The cross is also folly for pagans. What is the meaning of a crucified God? But this folly is the wisdom of God. Jesus wanted to be very close to all those who feel that they are abandoned. Jesus descended to the hell. He knew the worst situations of human misery. He accepted to die amongst the cursed. He shows in this manner the new relation of God with men where everything proclaims the absence of God. All men, even the most distant from God can recognize the face of God in the suffering servant. In this face a new presence of God is given to us. The Son of God wanted to know all our doubts and all our sufferings. After this experience God the Father glorified his Son. Though he was the Son he learned through obedience. Jesus glorified gave his Spirit to his disciples, the Spirit who continues His work and explains His message to his disciples.

P. Lapide, a Jewish historian, defended the idea that resurrection from the dead was known to the Jews at the time of Jesus. Jesus himself resurrected Lazarus from the death. It is not strange for a Jew to believe in the resurrection of the body.

In Jerusalem the night was falling and on the beginning of the Sabbath they started to kindle the light of the Sabbath. This was the great Sabbath.

Frédéric Manns

Created / Updated Monday, March 06, 2000 at 12:57:30