Friday, March 25, 2016

Cast Off and Rejected

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”  And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.  But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.  (Mt 27:45-49)

Certain people, in an outward display of piety for Jesus, because they are unable to explain how Christ could be forsaken by God, believe that this saying from the cross is true only as an expression of his humility.  We, however, who know that he who was “in the form of God” descended from the greatness of his stature and emptied himself, “taking the form of a servant” according to the will of the one who sent him, understand that he was indeed forsaken by the Father inasmuch as he who was the form of the invisible God and the image of the Father “took the form of a servant.”  He was forsaken for people so that he might shoulder so great a work and come “even to death” and “the death of the cross,” a work which seems thoroughly shameful to most people.  For it was the height of his abandonment when they crucified him and placed above his head the disdainful inscription “This is Jesus, king of the Jews.”  It was the height of his abandonment when they crucified him with thieves and when “those who passed by blasphemed him and wagged their heads.”  The chief priests and scribes said, “He saved others but cannot save himself.”  At that time “even the thieves reviled him” on the cross.  Clearly then you will be able to understand the saying “Why have you forsaken me?” when you compare the glory Christ had in the presence of the Father with the contempt he sustained on the cross, for his throne was
like the sun in the presence of God and like the moon established forever; and he was his faithful witness in heaven.  [Ps 89:36-37 LXX]
Afterwards, he also added with regard to those reasons for which he said “why have you forsaken me?”
But now you have cast off and rejected, you are full of wrath against your anointed.  You have renounced the covenant of your servant, you have defiled his crown in the dust.  [Ps 89:38-39 LXX]

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 135

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