Where does your mind go when I say this phrase: “O say, can you see?”
Four simple words conjure up images of the Stars and Stripes yet waving over Ft. McHenry, and that the flag still flies over the land of the free, and home of the brave. Why? Because we know more than those first four words. We know the whole song.
The religious leaders were jeering the crucified Jesus. “He saved others—but He can’t save himself! Get down from that cross … We’ll all become believers then! If He’s ‘God’s son’, let God save Him now—if he still wants him!”
Jesus’ reply? The first words of a song the Israelites had sung sing they were kids, the 22nd Psalm:
Then, these were the other “lyrics” that would have come to their minds … “I am scorned and despised. All who see me mock me. ‘He trusts in the Lord; let him rescue him!’ I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments and cast lots for them.”
And the conclusion of the song:
“You who fear the Lord, praise him! Stand in awe of him! … For God has not despised the suffering of His afflicted one, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard Him when he cried to him … The great congregation … those who fear you … those who seek you … the poor … the afflicted … the prosperous … those who have died … those yet unborn … all the nations … all will remember, and worship you, for Kingship belongs to the Lord! He has done it!”
For Jesus, the moment is not defined by any feeling of abandonment. The moment is defined by God, and His Word – not just the first words, but the whole song.
His Father is there … and Jesus will be King.
(From the Seven Last Words of Jesus at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church, Good Friday 2017).