Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Did he ponder Isaac

Whilst hanging on the cross

A last second substitute

Before all was lost?

Is this why he cried out

My God, My God so loud

Showing disappointment

Before a hostile crowd?

Would God not intervene,

Offer another lamb

Or would he be passed over

A dangling great I AM?

Abandoned but begotten

Left to face his fate?

Would help arrive in ‘nick of time’

Or would it come too late?

Where’s the lamb, asked Isaac

And told ‘God will provide’

But Jesus died in plain sight

No place for grace to hide.

Jesus, like old Isaac

An only begotten son,

Isaac was no substitute

But Jesus was the one.

We like sheep have gone astray

Unblemished lambs we’re not

God led the One to slaughter

The Passover he’d begot.

Offering isn’t ‘finished’

Until the sacrifice

For any true atonement

Blood shed must suffice.

Behold the Lamb of God

Who takes away our sin

God accepts no substitutes

For Jesus, in the end.


servant said...

greetings in the Name above all names: JESUS! i came across your blogspot and was prompted by the Spirit of God to encourage you with the following:

"Son, enter into the REST of the Lord; roll your burdens unto Me and rest while you recline upon My bosom to listen to My heartbeat. This so that I may share with you My deepest affections towards you who have been a faithful disciple of Mine. In this season, I am drawing you into the deeper places but this requires a particular stillness, a particular quietness, a particular humility that commands an authentic humility.Be found as like Samuel who slept near the ark of the covenant and snuggle up to your Father Who loves you with an everlasting love, He Who is well pleased in you."

specific verses i am led to give you: 1 Peter 5:6-7
Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 46:10

Ben Witherington said...

Thanks for this Christine.

Humility as defined by the NT is the posture of a strong person stepping down to serve others like Jesus. I certainly affirm that. It also is the posture of a person who is confident about what God has done in that person's life. In short, authentic humility does not have to do with self-abnegation, though it certainly involves self-sacrifice and self denial.

Also, snuggling up to the Father is not something any part of the Bible commands us to, since God the Father is a refining fire, and we are less than perfectly holy. Remember what happen to Uzzah when he touched the ark.

Happy New Year,

Ben W.

Larry Thompson said...

Thanks for a thoughtful poem. I always read the story of Abraham and Isaac and think, God spared Abraham's son, but not his own. He would not draw back his own hand. And he did it for us. Thanks for the reminder of his awesome love.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the poem. Where does the title come from?

The rest of this comment is tangental so feel free to ignore it.

The lines:

Is this why he cried out My God, My God so loud
Showing disappointment Before a hostile crowd?

reminded me of something I was thinking about a few months ago. Gerald Bray was out here and visiting (among other places) the college I am studying at. There was an after-lunch 'grill the theologian' and I took the opportunity to ask a question about how to understand Jesus' 'cry of deriliction' in the light of the unity of the Trinity.

Bray's answer involved seeing Jesus' cry as refering to all of Psalm 22, following the rabbinical practice of the time.

I wasn't convinced at the time but then went back to the narrative and looked at how this being a reference to the psalm as a whole would work in the context. After a bit of thought I came to the following conclusions.

1. Neither Matthew or Mark encourage the reader to focus on how Jesus is feeling. The focus in both is on how those present are reacting to Jesus. There is nothing of the emotion shown by Jesus in Gethsemane so it is not that the writers avoid showing Jesus' emotions.

2. If Jesus' quoting Ps 22:1 is about referring to the whole psalm then this first verse is not necessarily how he felt. Why not the confidence at the end instead? Yes, he was, by all appearances, abandoned. But at this point in the narrative our attention is focused on how the crowd is reacting. Their actions show him to be the innocent afflicted one of Ps 22. Jesus identifies himself as that. Whether or not Jesus felt this abandonment is not the point the authors are making. I don’t think it was the point Jesus was making either. In part because if the authors didn’t see it as Jesus emotional response to the situation then we have no basis to think it was, after all they are the inspired authors.

3.If Jesus statement is one claiming to be the afflicted one of Ps 22 then this makes sense of the crowds mistaken response. Most commentators seem to focus on the question of why they didn’t understand. A more important question is why did Matthew and Mark record their mistake. I think the authors may be using it to do two things. Firstly to show that the crowd wasn’t intentionally acting out Ps 22. They didn’t even realise the connection when the psalm is referred to. Secondly it shows that like other occassions people just didn’t understand who Jesus was.

4. If Jesus was expressing his feelings of abandonment by God why did he use this verse. Surely Ps 88 would have been more appropriate. Ps 22:1 is not a statement of abandonment but rather a question as to why. But Jesus knew why. This problem disappears if Jesus is referring to the whole psalm.

I was wondering what you thought.

Ben Witherington said...

Akedah is Hebrew for binding. This passage came to be called the Akedah. I think, Amanda, that Jesus chose to recite only Ps. 22.1 because that was the bit that applied to his situation, not the whole psalm. Jesus was experiencing our God-forsakeness for us in our place. It is not an accident that this is the only place Jesus calls God God instead of Father in the whole of Mark's Gospel. In other words-- I disagree with Gerald Bray's artful dodge of the issue. Jesus knew perfectly well that he was being asked to drink the cup of God's wrath poured out on sin.


Ben W.

Sarah said...

"In short, authentic humility does not have to do with self-abnegation, though it certainly involves self-sacrifice and self denial."

Really? How are you defining self-abnegation? I am just wondering because it seems like Adam Christology does indeed present a picture of self-abnegation on the part of Christ. What do you think of C.K. Barrett's (your Ph.D. advisor, lucky) description here?

Christ is the son of God, but he is also the incorporation of mankind; as the incorporation of mankind he is destined in the restoring mercy of God to reign once more over all creation and over all his enemies, including eventually death; but he can so reign only in his readiness to submit himself completely to God, and indeed in the concrete actualization of this readiness. It was refusal to render this submission to God that cost Adam, and mankind in him, his life; it is the rendering of it by mankind in Christ that leads to victory over death. After the resurrection as before it, Christ realizes his glory, and is the Lord (Phil. ii.II), in humble obedience and self-abnegation. It is precisely in these terms of humility and obedience, and in no other terms whatever, that the eschatology is being realized, and the new Man created in the image of Christ built up (Barrett, From First Adam to Last, 102).

Great poem, btw :)

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Sarah:

Nice quote from CKB. He and I are talking about two different things. I was referring to self-loathing and denigrating one's self. Obviously submission to God and obedience is of the essence of our relationship to God. What is interesting about that sort of humility is that we actually find ourselves, find our proper place in the universe, rather than lose ourselves.