The Bystanders: Father God

By Chad Hershberger

This Holy Week and next week, as we observe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I invite you to join me in being mindful of God’s gifts. We’ll have a series of blog posts that look at the eyewitnesses of the Crucifixion and how the events of this week still have meaning to us today.

It was noon. And it was dark. It lasted for three hours. Jesus was hanging on a cross, and he cried out to God.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Was Jesus really crying out to God, the father? Or was he quoting scripture? In Psalm 22, we read the same words. David also writes, “Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

Read more of Psalm 22 and you will see more familiar images of Good Friday. In fact, Psalm 22 is often read on Maundy Thursday during the stripping of the altar as we prepare for Good Friday.

Back to Mark’s gospel. Jesus is there, on the cross crying out to God. Some of those around him thought he was calling Elijah. He was given sour wine on a sponge, and they waited to see if Elijah would come and take him off the cross. But nothing.

It is strange to look at God, the father, as a bystander on this day. Particularly because we believe in a triune God. But in our holy week stories, we see Jesus praying and crying out to the father. God, the father, watched a son perish. That son was raised from the dead and went to reign with the father. And God sent us the gift of an advocate, the Holy Spirit.

But on that dark Friday, Jesus cried out to the father. A father who was a bystander.