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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My God, My God! Why Have You Forsaken Me?

My God, My God!  Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Scripture has recorded three more statements that Jesus made from the cross that we have not already covered! These statements are (1) “My God, My God!  Why Have You Forsaken Me?”, And (2) “Behold your mother.  Behold your son.” (spoken to Mary His mother and to John His disciple.) And the third statement (3) as He gasped His last breath: “It is finished! Into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.” We will cover these three statements of Jesus from the cross here in this blog. 

We can only imagine the dreadful torture Jesus was experiencing when He cried out to God asking why He had been forsaken! The people who led the charge to crucify Jesus were the religious leaders of the day; the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were the ones who were always praying loudly to God in front of everyone so that all could see how very pious they were. And they were also the ones who were insisting that Jesus had committed crimes worthy of this terrible death. And the crimes they accused Jesus of were the so-called crimes of healing the sick on the Sabbath and of claiming to be God’s Messiah. 

These religious leaders who thought they knew all the correct answers were standing around the cross, spewing hate at Jesus and mocking Him as He hung on the cross, carrying the sin of the world and dying in horrific pain. Scripture says that around noon darkness fell over the whole land and small earthquakes shook the ground. Many people ran off afraid that this might be a sign from God.  It seemed that even nature was convulsing and mourning the murder of the Creator and Savior.   

Twisting in pain and gasping for breath, Jesus must have felt the evil deeds of all the generations weighing down upon His shoulders. The spiritual pain combined with the physical pain must have been unimaginable. It was then in the darkness that He cried out:” My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:29-36a) These were not Jesus’ final words.  The feelings of abandonment and God-forsakenness and even death would not be the end of Jesus’ story.  And neither will our sufferings and death be God’s final word for us!

Jesus came to deliver His people. He chose to identify with our sufferings and He understands and has compassion on us when we go through dark and painful places Jesus models for us the ways of love.  We are meant to follow Him and be willing to love even when it costs us a great deal. .

Jesus’ mother Mary was standing there at the cross weeping.  She wanted to be with her Son.. All of the disciples had run away in fear except John.  Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother and John, His disciple. The Scriptures read: ”Jesus said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!”  Then He said to the disciple (John), “Behold your mother!’”  And from that hour the disciple(John) took her (Mary) to his own home. (John 19: 25-27) Jesus was concerned for His mother.  He wanted to ensure that His mother would be taken care of after He was gone so He asked John to be a “son” to His mother.   

One of the Ten Commandments is: “Honor your father and your mother,…” (Exodus 20:12) Even as Jesus was dying on the cross He was thinking about His mother instead of Himself..  And He commands us to follow His example and honor and care about our mothers and fathers. Jesus was asking John to take care of His mother. And He was asking His mother to go with John and consider him as a son.  The idea that Christians are family and that we are to care for one another is commanded in Scripture.  Jesus said: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark3:35) Jesus calls us to see those in need as our mother or father or son or daughter and reach out to them if we are able.

Just before Jesus died He said these last words: “It is finished” and “Into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.”  (Luke 19:30a and Luke 23:43-47)  These words of Jesus can be our words too.  We can make these words our own and pray, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  With this prayer, we never need to be afraid.  We can commit our spirit into our Heavenly Fathers’ Hands.

 When Jesus cried out “It is finished” it was not a cry of defeat, but a shout of victory!  Jesus’ redemptive work for us was completed.  Finished!  Something amazing and wonderful and unbelievable was finished when Jesus died on the cross.

At the moment that Jesus gasped His last breath and died, the curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem tore in half.  This thick curtain or veil separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.  And the tearing of the Temple curtain is one more picture of what Jesus was accomplishing on the cross.  From this time on there no longer would be a need for a curtain or a veil to separate humans from God.

  This veil or curtain was to keep everyone out.  If sinful persons entered the Holy Place where God’s holy presence was abiding the humans would immediately die.  We sinful humans cannot come before a pure and holy God in our sins. But now through Jesus, humans can come directly to God’s Mercy Seat to ask for mercy and to receive God’s grace and salvation. Jesus’ blood has washed away our sins and His righteousness is our covering.     

Jesus’ death on the cross was a sign of God’s ultimate triumph over death.  His death reversed the events that occurred at the fall when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden!  Jesus is the Second-Adam.  According to Scripture the first Adam (Adam and Eve) put us under the curse of sin.  And now after the death of Christ, the Second-Adam (Jesus) takes us out from under the curse of sin. What Jesus did on the cross is life giving and life changing. The whole world changed when Christ died! It is a mystery we cannot fully comprehend. 

Scripture says that the death and resurrection of Jesus “Is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) We are changed when we believe in Christ as our Savior.

These are the final words of Jesus from the cross.  These are words to live by.  But even though these words are His final words before His death, there would be words after that.  The season of Lent ends at an empty tomb!  The horrific death of Jesus Christ would not be the end of Jesus’ story.  And neither will suffering and death be the end of your story! 

This blog has taken many of its thoughts and ideas and lines from Adam Hamilton’s book, “Final Words from the Cross”.  


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