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There are numerous Christians hymns and references in Christian literature that Jesus was "forsaken by all mankind, yet to be in Heaven' enthroned", etc.

In essence, there is this powerful image of Christ hanging crucified on the cross bearing the sins of all mankind, totally abandoned. (cf. Mark 15:34)

The Gospels, however, at least the Gospel of John, presents the apostle John and Mary the mother of Jesus present at the crucifixion (cf. John 19:26–27), showing somehow that not every human betrayed or forsaken Christ.

Are the Christian hymns a simple exaggeration to make a point, or was Jesus indeed literary forsaken by all humans? If so, how are we to interpret the passages cited in John's Gospel?

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    Perhaps abandoned not in the physical presence sense since some were at the cross, but rather in the abandoned in an identity sense. Jesus Messiah, Christ, hanging on a tree accursed by God (Deut 21:23) – SLM Dec 21 '20 at 15:31
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He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - John 1:10-12

The hymn writers are employing literary devices intended, not to exaggerate Christ's suffering (for we cannot even truly imagine the anguish of that lonely cry "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"), but to pointedly draw our self serving attentions to it for His glory and for our edification.

It was alone the Savior prayed In dark Gethsemane; Alone He drained the bitter cup And suffered there for me.

Alone, alone, He bore it all alone; He gave Himself to save His own,
He suffered, bled and died alone, alone.

It was alone the Savior stood In Pilate’s judgment hall; Alone the crown of thorns He wore, Forsaken thus by all.

Alone upon the cross He hung That others He might save; Forsaken then by God and man. Alone, His life He gave.

Can you reject such matchless love? Can you His claim disown? Come, give your all in gratitude, Nor leave Him thus alone.

It Was Alone The Savior Prayed - Benjamin H. Price 1914

 

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  • Thanks this shines light. Regarding John 1:10-12, that you quote, I'm still not sure if from that passage of Scripture, I should understand that for example, Mary and the apostle John where fully aware of what was actually happening at the crucifixion. Or that even they where not "there" in a metaphorical sense. – Dan Dec 21 '20 at 15:59
  • @Dan I don't believe the passage speaks to the degree of understanding possessed by any individuals. He came to His own and His own (at large) did not receive Him, is probably closer to the intent. – Mike Borden Dec 22 '20 at 12:08
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Was Jesus abandoned by every human on the cross?

The short answer is no. But the large majority did!

Hymns tend to use imagery to bring home a certain point of view about Jesus’ Crucifixion. Many even appeal to our emotions.

In reality, present at the Cross were a small, but loyal group of followers. Yet only one Apostle was courageous even to be present.

  • 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[a] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. - John 19:25-27

  • 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ - Luke 23:27-29

  • 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. - Luke 23:48-49

  • 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman,1here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. - John 19:26-27

  • 55 There were also xmany women there, looking on yfrom a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were zMary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and athe mother of the sons of Zebedee. - Matthew 27:55-56

  • 40 There were also ewomen looking on ffrom a distance, among whom were gMary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and iSalome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and gministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. - Mark 15:40-41

Just by taking a quick glance at those who who there to be near Jesus, the majority were women.

Peter denied Jesus three times during his trial at the high priest's house.

Like all forms of Christian artistic works, whether of music, hymns or art, they are there to elevated man’s spiritual thoughts to higher spiritual things and contemplation!

Taken from Saint Andrew Daily Missal

Crucifixion images taken from Saint Andrew Daily Missal.

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Many hymns get some of their lyrics wrong, either stretching, or glossing over a point to make the meter fit the tune, and there is always the danger of wrong theology when deviating from the actual words of scripture. The line you quote is a case in point. Witnessing Christ’s crucifixion was his mother, Mary, her sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene, and the apostle John (John 19:25).

However, the word ‘mankind’ does not necessarily mean every human alive at any given time! The abandonment that happened was the fulfilment of the ancient prophecy that God would “strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” Zechariah 13:7, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 26:31, before the event. Even though he knew he would be abandoned by virtually all his followers, the worst abandonment was that of the Father, forsaking the Son (Mark 15:34).

I searched through a lot of hymns without finding even one verse that said Jesus was totally and utterly abandoned. But when I do find verses that are not entirely scriptural, I either don’t sing them, or personally modify the offending words. In the line you quote, I would view it as portraying how none was ever so abandoned as was Christ, on the cross. Humanity, during those dark hours, had no idea what was really going on, including his own disciples, and his own mother. It wasn’t until after his resurrection that they saw it all differently, from the divine perspective. No doubt those who had abandoned him were cut to their hearts and truly repented, none more so than Peter.

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There are literally tens of thousands of hymns around the world, through the centuries and they all have one thing in common. They were written by fallen humans - they are not inspired.

Many times, they use imagery and hyperbole to make a point, and sometimes they use a word that wasn't Biblical but needed a word that rhymes. It's just that there's the expectation that the words should flow and it doesn't sound good to say "Jack and Jill went up a mountain", even if they did.

Christ was certainly not abandoned by all humans on the cross - we can be certain that Mary was there for every moment of his agonizing death. But we also know from scripture that one of the thieves on the cross - recognized and acknowledged Christ as the Son of God, and Christ said that he would be with Him. So we have biblical proof that while God turned his back on sin, it's totally conjecture to say that he was forsaken by humans literally or spiritually, or emotionally.

There are countless hymns that simply put bad theology to music - and can reinforce these bad ideas in people's minds.

Just because it rhymes, doesn't make it true.

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I believe Jesus was quoting Mark 27:46 to show the spectators that His crucifixion had been prophesied by David at Psalm 22. Demonstrating that He was in fact the "suffering Servant" that had been promised by the Old Testament prophets.

It's important to note that David's immediate reason for writing Psalm 22 was to describe his own feelings of forsakenness while he was being hunted down and persecuted by King Saul.

Like many of the Davidic Psalms, he began by complaining that God had left him. He says at vs11, "Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help. Vs12, "Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me."

I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax. It is melted within me. My tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou does lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; They pierced my hands and my feet.

Then at vs19, "But Thou O Lord be not far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance. Verse 21, "Save me from the lion's mouth; and from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer me."

At vs22 David begins to give exultation of God's goodness when he realized that He never really did forsake him at all. This is made clear at verses 23-24, "You who fear the Lord, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him etc. Vs24, "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.; Neither has He hidden His face for help, He heard."

Now, here is what Jesus said at John 16:32, "Behold, an hour is coming and has already come for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; AND YET I AM NOT ALONE, BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME."

Also at 2 Corinthians 5:19, "namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."

On a personal note when I arrived in Vietnam in January of 1968, the Tet offensive just started. Tet is the Lunar New Year in Vietnam. It was an absolutely horrible time. I thought just about everyday that God had forsaken me. But He did not, here I am 53 years later. I'm positive that many Christians FEEL the same way when put in situations that seem impossible to get out of.

I also have to disagree with the following words in another posters comments. "Even though he knew he would be abandoned by virtually all his followers, the worst abandonment was that of the Father, forsaking the Son (Mark 15:34)." Yes, His followers did abandon Him, but His Father did not.

In years past I have heard others say, "The Father abandoned His Son.' Or "the Father cannot look at sin so He turned away from His Son." At Luke 22:42 Jesus' prayer is quite intense and shows His humanity. "Father; if Thou are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." Jesus is praying for His death to be averted, but only if it is the Father's will. We know the Father did not alleviate His suffering and in my opinion His Father did not forsake Him.

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Luke 23 (KJV):

39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Clearly this was one human who believed in Jesus and not "abandoned" him, even under the direst of circumstances.

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  • Can you please edit this to explain how you interpret these verses and their relevance to the question? It's not immediately obvious how they speak to the question... – curiousdannii Dec 22 '20 at 4:17

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