Watching the sunrise this morning on this Good Friday, I had a thought inspired by recent discussions of Jesus’ Cry from the Cross – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Here’s the thought I had.
God creates ex nihilo or out of nothing. This ‘nothing’ isn’t a certain sort of something out of which God creates; we are not assembled into being from other more fundamental parts or created events. From the finite perspective of our conscious experience, this nothingness represents the Void whose absolute closure threatens to consume our present existence with final meaninglessness. The Void represents the nothingness from which God calls us to be. But it occasions a necessary and fundamental choice to relate to existence in one of two ways – either peacefully, giving our finitude to God in trust, or despairingly, anxiously, in the fragmenting narratives of self-assertion and fear.
I want to suggest that on the Cross, in Jesus’ Cry (“My God, My God, why?”), God is recreating humanity ex nihilo, that God, via Christ’s humanity (God’s own humanity), takes creation to the very edge of that nothingness from which we are called into being, and there humanity finally relates to the Void truthfully and peacefully.
Christ takes the essential question at the heart of the Cry (Ps 22) and submits himself to the Father as its answer. The Cry of Ps 22 is there not because Christ believes himself abandoned by God (the Psalm and gospels prevent such a conclusion) but because the humanity he is re-creating believes itself to be abandoned by God. The Cry becomes the point of departure, the basis upon which we can locate ourselves within the event of the Cross. It becomes the doorway through which we experience ourselves being re-created ex nihilo. There is a question in the Cry that is, after all, just the question that finitude must ask: Why this? Where is God in this? The Cry tells us that Jesus is standing at the very place before the Void which marks the spot of humanity’s despairing failure to trust God, and that he also has occupied the place of innocent suffering which occasion in us of misrelation and despair, but which Jesus fills with peaceful and benevolent trust in God.
Jesus asks our question (Why?), yes, and he asks it from the regions of our worst suffering, but he answers it differently. And the answer he gives is how and where he re-creates humanity ex nihilo. Why ex nihilo? Because the answer Jesus gives (that answer being “I am not alone, for my Father is with me” John 16.32-33) exceeds the resources of finitude. Its truth is not derived from any created resource. Since creation is asking the question about itself, it cannot itself be the answer. The answer “I am not alone, my Father is with me” comes from the other side of the Void, i.e., from a transcendent and uncreated source.