Sunday, March 3, 2013

Nehemiah's Hope

From 2 Esdras 9:9 comes a hopeful thought:

δοῦλοί ἐσμεν καὶ ἐν τῇ δουείᾳ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγκατέλιπεν ἡμᾶς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν.
We are servants, and in our service the Lord our God has not abandoned us.
Yet, this same verb, ἐγκατέλιπες, appears in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, when Jesus cries from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1 (Psalm 21:1 in the Septuagint), which is a Psalm particularly appropriate for many aspects of the crucifixion, and one which is quoted eight times in the New Testament and alluded to another twelve times. It is a reminder that God does indeed, at least for a time, abandon his servants. (So are D&C 121 and the great apostasy.)

Jesus, at least, knows what it is like when your friends, who should stand by you, do not, and what it is like when those whom you thought were your friends betray you to your enemies. It is interesting that while Jesus forgave the Roman soldiers who did not know any better and were only doing what their superiors commanded (Luke 23:34), he did not forgive Pilate who gave the order of execution, he did not forgive those Jewish leaders who plotted and schemed his death, and he said that there could never be forgiveness for Judas who betrayed him.