“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus spoke these words as he gasped for each breath of air; suspended between Heaven and earth. Dying on the cross.
Did the Father actually forsake Jesus, or was the pain so great Jesus felt like he was all alone? What do you think?
Does the Father God forsake you and I? Ever?
Even if we’ve done wrong?
Even though we may have cursed him?
No. We’re the reason he sent his son.
But isn’t it true that God can’t look upon sin?
Why can’t he? He’s the strong one. He’s the pure one. He can change the sinner; he’s even been known to eat meals with sinners.
Sin has a problem remaining in HIS presence. When Isaiah stood before the Lord, it was Isaiah who had a hard time looking at the Lord, not the other way around. Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips. Where can I hide?”
Would the Father leave his son, when he was needed the most?
It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. All part of the plan. God’s plan. To allow his son to become the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The sin in you, in me.
We were part of God’s plan, established before the beginning of the world? Yes.
For the purpose of destroying the works of the devil, Jesus came.
Did the Father ever turn his back on the priests as they sacrificed cattle and sheep on the altar?
No. The fragrance was pleasing to him. Not the fragrance of burnt hide, or the metallic smell of blood. The fragrance the Father liked was the fragrance of forgiveness, justice, and reconciliation.
The Psalmist declared, “God is my refuge and my strength; a very present help in trouble.”
Father God declared, “I will be with you in trouble, to deliver you and honor you.”
The cross would definitely qualify as a time of trouble, and a troublesome place.
Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed him stricken; smitten by God and afflicted. But he wasn’t. It looked like it to us, and to everyone who was on the hill that notable, unforgettable day. It looked like the Father turned his back on Jesus when Jesus needed him most. But he didn’t.
No, he didn’t.
Just as he was with Jonah in the belly of the great fish, Father was with Jesus, and he is with you. And he’s with me.
Whether we are in the fish because of our sin, or we’re standing in seaweed up to our thighs because we’re taking someone else’s place; he is with us. God is with us. We may not see him, hear him, or touch him. But he is with us.
For Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquity. Our punishment, our annihilation, he carried to the cross for us. Carried it to the One who could say, “Paid in full.” God made him, who knew no sin, to be made sin; so we, who never knew righteousness would be made the righteousness of God in Christ.
Did God turn his back on Jesus?
In fact, God gave Jesus the grace to taste death for every man, woman, and child. The cry from Jesus, while praying in the garden, sweating great drops of blood, was a cry for help. Had Adam cried for help in that first garden, God wouldn’t have asked later, “Adam, where are you?” But Jesus cried for help; help so he could taste death for everyone.
And God was immediately there.
Everyone has a standing invitation from Father God: “come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The time of need is also a time of trouble.
Why is this important?
Have you ever failed God? I have. Have you ever sinned? Yep, got me again. Have you ever said things you regretted saying, just a few minutes after saying them? Haven’t we all?
Has the accuser of the brethren ever launched into one of his tirades, accusing you of the sin which leads to death, and “promising” you God has left you, never to return? Has he ever shown you his charts and photos, with “Greek and Hebrew” interpretations and explanations, trying to convince you that God’s mercy DOES have an end?
Have you ever believed him?
That’s why this is important.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1
The psalmist kept crying out to God, praying and wailing, and praising. All the way down to verse twenty one. Note the change:
“Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!”
While Jesus hung on the cross, he didn’t just quote the first verse of Psalm 22. I believe he quoted the whole thing. He would have said something like this:
“Oh God, it looks like I am all alone! I feel like you’ve abandoned me! But I know you inhabit the praises of your people.
“Oh God, this pain is so great! It is more than I can bear. I cry out to you, but you seem so far away. Everyone around me is mocking me; claiming you, Father, are the one punishing me. Oh, I wish they all could see why this is really happening. Please, be not far from me, for trouble is very near.
“Yes, I feel so all alone. I cry to you, but you seem to have turned a deaf ear to me.
“Oh, THERE you are! Honoring and delivering me, just as you promised! The bulls of Bashan and the horns of the wild oxen will not destroy me after all. Hallelujah!” And from that point on, Jesus was ready to finish his mission.
When the Lord declares, “I will never leave you or forsake you”, please try and remember one thing…
He means it.