"My God, My God, Why Hast
Thou Forsaken Me?"
Introduction: The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was a most extraordinary event. It is a perpetual marvel, wherein the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
At first glance, the casual reader of the crucifixion narrative might think that the events of Golgotha lasted no more than an hour, perhaps less. Closer examination of the gospel writers’ detailed telling, however, reveals that Jesus’ death took no less than six hours. His hands and feet were nailed to the wooden beams of the cross at nine o’clock in the morning. Sometime during the next three hours, He uttered His first three statements:
The words of FORGIVENESS in Luke 23:34, "Father forgiven them; for they know not what they do."
The words of SALVATION in Luke 23:43, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
The words of AFFECTION in John 19:26-27, "Woman behold thy Son; Behold thy mother."
Then at noon, which was the sixth hour, in Mark 15:33 we read, “…there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” Darkness dropped like a thick, wet blanket. An eerie silence now surrounded the Place of the Skull. Picture it, right where you’re sitting this moment. Darkness at noon day and a deadening silence. Then, suddenly, out of the depths of that darkness came the anguished voice of the abandoned Son of God who “cried with a loud voice” He literally screamed out in a passionate groan in the Aramaic language, "Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my, God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
Notice the context of this saying from Matthew 27:45-49:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. (46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (47) Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. (48) And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. (49) The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. (50) Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”
Now listen carefully,
The FIRST recorded words of our Lord during His earthly ministry are found in Luke 2:49 where He said to His parents, "...know ye not that I must be about my FATHER’S business?" Notice Jesus did not say, "I must be about my GOD'S business,' He said, "I must be about my FATHER’S business."
The LAST recorded words of our Lord on the Cross before He died are recorded in Luke 23:46, "FATHER into Thy hands, I commend my Spirit." Notice again He did not say, "GOD into thy hands I commend my spirit." Rather He said, "FATHER, into Thy hands, I commend my Spirit."
Our Lord's FIRST words were "...know ye not that I must be about my FATHER’S business?" and His LAST recorded words were "FATHER into Thy hands, I commend my Spirit." And throughout the gospels, you will find Jesus always saying "My Father." For example, He said in:
Matthew 7:21, "...but he that doeth the will of MY FATHER..."
Matthew 25:34, "...Come blessed of MY FATHER, inherit the kingdom..."
Luke 24:49, "And, behold, I send the promise of MY FATHER..."
John 10:30, "I and MY FATHER are one."
John 20:21, "...As MY FATHER hath sent me, so send I you."
Even in our Lord's High Priestly prayer, recorded for us in John 17, six times Jesus uses the word "Father."
We can understand Jesus’ first statement from the cross, "Father forgiven them; for they know not what they do." This is in harmony with what He is doing. He is dying for sinners, dying to pay our sin debt. These are the words of forgiveness.
We can understand the Lord's second statement from the cross, when He says to the dying thief, “Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The whole purpose of His death was to get sinners into paradise. These are the words of salvation.
We can also understand our Lord's third statement from the cross. The words of affection that He spoke to His mother, and to the disciple whom He loved, the Apostle John, were, "Woman behold thy Son; Behold thy mother." Here we see the compassionate heart of the Saviour.
But the next words out of our Lord's mouth are a cry that STARTLES and STAGGERS us. For the first and only time in His earthly ministry, He interrupts the progression of using "My Father" and cries, "My God, My God, why hast Thou FORSAKEN ME?" Why did Jesus, all of a sudden right in the middle of His agony on the cross, cry out, "My God, My God…?" I believe the REASONS WHY Christ cried out to God are found in three biblical truths:
First: There is the PROPHECY of this CRY: "My God, My God, why hast Thou FORSAKEN ME?" was a question which none of those around the Cross could have answered. But the Lord Jesus had answered His own question, and His answer is found in Psalm 22. This Messianic Psalm furnishes a most wonderful prophetic PREVIEW of His sufferings. The Psalm opens in verse 1 with the very words of our Saviour's fourth utterance while on the Cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou FORSAKEN ME?" and is followed by the answer to His question found in verse 3, "But Thou art holy."
At the Cross, God exhibited His holiness and satisfied His justice by pouring out His wrath on the one who was made sin for us. What human pen is able to write about the HOLINESS OF GOD?
So holy is God that mortal man cannot look upon Him in His being and live.
So holy is God that even the seraphim veil their faces before Him.
So holy is God that when Abraham stood before Him, He cried in Genesis 18:27, "I am but dust and ashes."
So holy is God that when Job came into His presence in Job 42:6, he said, "Wherefore I abhor myself."
So holy is God that when Isaiah had a vision of His glory he exclaimed in Isaiah 6:5, "Woe is me! for I am undone ... for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Host."
So holy is God that we are told in Habakkuk 1:13, "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity."
It was because the Saviour was bearing our sins that the HOLY GOD would not look on Him, and turned His face from Him, and forsook Him.
This is the true explanation of Calvary. God's holy character could not do less than JUDGE sin, even though it was found on Christ Himself. It was there at the cross God's justice was satisfied and His Holiness vindicated, and because "God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" Jesus in FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY cried, "My God, My God, why has Thou FORSAKEN ME?"
Second: The POSITON of the context in scripture: In order to understand the agonizing words of Jesus in Matthew 27:46 we must consider them in context along with verse 45, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.”
There is always the danger that we might read this verse too quickly and pass over it too lightly. However this record of the three hours of darkness and silence has been recorded for us in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
This was a supernatural darkness. It was not night, for the sun was at its zenith. As it has been said, "It became Midnight at Midday." It was not an eclipse. This was entirely impossible, for the Passover was always held at full moon, when there could be no eclipse of the sun. In addition, competent astronomers tell us, at the time of the crucifixion, the moon was at its farthest from the sun.
Could this darkness have been God turning the lights off as an expression of His sympathy for His Son? I don't believe so.
So then, what was this darkness? What did it really mean? Perhaps a key idea comes from a passage found in Luke 22:52-53 where Jesus said to those who came to arrest Him in Gethsemane, "Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? (53) When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." Throughout the Lord's ministry, He would refer to the hour that was to come. Men attempted to arrest Him, but they could not because His hour had not yet come. Now he says, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness."
The postponed hour had arrived. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. We have no picture of the Son of God during those hours, no record of a word passing His lips. It was a period of infinite silence, and of overwhelming darkness. So, what then was this darkness? Here, we must consider a number of things.
In Biblical literature, darkness indicates a symbol of spiritual evil. For example in Matthew 6:23 we read, "If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness..." Matthew 25:30 tells us, "Cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness."
Darkness is the twin sister of death. Death and darkness express the ultimate in evil. And in this hour, when the Lord Himself was passing to death, there was darkness. Darkness is also associated with Satan.
This was a period of evil. It was an hour under the domination of the powers of darkness, Satan himself. So where was Satan during this time? Actually, there are several verses giving an indication of Satan’s location:
In Ephesians 2:2 we read that Satan is the "prince of the power of the air."
In Ephesians 6:12 it indicates Satan is part of “the rulers of darkness of this world."
In Colossians 2:15 we read concerning Christ, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
In John 8:12 we read, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Now, let me try to summarize all of this for you. Satan's purpose was to extinguish that light, to put it out. During those three hours of darkness, not only was our Lord shut out from the presence of the Father, but He was also brought into a fierce battle with all the forces of Satan that were bent on trying to extinguish the Light of the World. It was in this deep darkness that Christ triumphed over the forces of evil, as well as the principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly.
And as the darkness passed, our Lord was able to cry "IT IS FINISHED!” The victory had been won. THE LIGHT HAD PREVAILED. Praise God we do not have to experience the darkness of Satan and Hell, but we can be wrapped in Him, Who is the Light of the World.
Third: The PURPOSE of Christ's death. Now, in order to feel the depth of this cry of our Lord in Matthew 27:46, My God, My God, why hast Thou FORSAKEN ME?" we need to understand the key word "Forsaken." The word means:
"To be abandoned,"
"To desert someone,"
"To leave one helpless."
In order for Christ's sacrifice to be complete, it pleased God the Father to forsake His well beloved Son. Jesus came into this world as we read in John 1:29, "TO TAKE AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD." Therefore, when the sin of the world was laid on Him, out of divine necessity, God turned His face away from the Sin-Bearer because God cannot look upon sin. There on the cross, Jesus was literally DISOWNED by the Father, so Jesus had to cry, "My God, My God, why has Thou ABANDONED Me."
What calamities are conjured up by this word? How terrible it is to hear:
A man forsaken by his friend, or
A wife abandoned by her husband, or
A child denounced by his parents.
But a creature forsaken by its creator, a man forsaken by God, is the most frightful of all life’s circumstances. In all ages, the cry of saints has been "Forsake us not, O God." For the Lord to hide His face from us, even for a moment, is unbearable. Now if this is true of you and I, how infinitely more so for the beloved Son of the Father.
From all eternity, He who hung there on the accursed tree had been the object of the Father's love.
The Father was His daily delight.
The Father's presence had been His home.
The Father's bosom was His dwelling place.
The Father's glory had been shared with Him before the world was created.
Think about what it must have meant to be "Forsaken" by God! God literally hiding His face from Christ was the bitter cup our redeemer had to drink. The desertion by His heavenly Father was:
The climax of Christ's grief, and
The height of the intensity of his suffering, as well as
The deepest depth of His sorrow.
Did God really turn His back on Jesus and forsake Him in that hour? The Bible clearly tells us from eternity God the Father and God the Son had fellowship one with another. Now the only way to have fellowship is to be facing one another, is it not? In John 1:1 we read, "In the beginning was the WORD (meaning Jesus) and the Word was WITH God." Here the word "with" has the idea of being "face to face." God the Father and God the Son in eternity had a face to face fellowship with one another. Even while Jesus was in human flesh, He enjoyed that fellowship with the Father. Jesus did more than come to earth to give us a good moral example. Jesus came to pay the penalty for your sins and my sins. There on the cross, Jesus ALONE had heaped upon Him every sin of every man, woman, boy and girl who has ever lived, is living, and shall live from this day forward. That was a heap of sins. All your sins and all my sins were laid upon Christ.
Hebrew 1:3 tells us, "…When He had by Himself purged our sin, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
II Corinthians 5:21 reads, "For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
I Peter 2:24 tells us, "Who (Jesus) His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…”
He who was rich became poor that we might be made rich.
He who was righteous became unrighteous that we might become righteous.
He was forsaken by the Father that we might not be forsaken by God the Father.
He suffered the judgment of sin that we might be set free from the judgment of sin.
He was willing to be "made a curse for us: for it is written" in Galatians 3:13, "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." so that you and I would not have to ever again face such a curse.
What was that curse? It was God drawing the curtain of Heaven closed so He could not see the sins laid upon His Son until the Blood of the Lamb of God was shed to cover all our sin. At the cross, not only were all our sins transferred to Christ but also the divine judgment for all those sins. There was no way of transferring sin without transferring its penalty.
What was the penalty for sin? It was DEATH. On the Cross the Lord Jesus was receiving the wages of our sins. What was to be the final outcome of that death? The outcome was to be the FOREVER and FOREVER ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD. This awful doom awaiting the lost is set forth:
In II Thessalonians 1:9 where we read "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."
In Revelation 20:14 which tell us, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
On the cross Jesus experienced an eternity in Hell for every one of us. Now listen again to the words of II Corinthians 5:21, "For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Here Jesus is on the cross with all the sins of mankind heaped upon Him. Now in the sight of the Father, Jesus is a sinner. So what does God the Father do? He who cannot be in the presence of sin turns His back on Jesus, and draws the curtain of Heaven closed from earth's sight. Now without the fellowship of the Father, Jesus does not cry "MY FATHER," rather He cries "My God, My God, why hast thou DISOWNED Me."
Jesus was willing for your sins and for my sins to be laid upon Him, so that God could DENOUNCE, DISOWN and ABANDON Him, so you and I would NOT HAVE TO BE forever punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
My friends, on the Cross:
Jesus did more than suffer a few nails in His hands.
Jesus did more than suffer a spike in His feet.
Jesus did more than endure a crown of thorns on His brow.
Jesus did more than feel the cat of nine tails across His back.
He felt the abandonment of the Father.
He felt the presence of eternal darkness.
He experienced the presence of Hell as punishment for our sins.
Because the Saviour was bearing our sins, the HOLY GOD would not look on Him. He turned His face from Him, and forsook Him.
Can you imagine as a parent what it would be like to DISOWN your child, your own flesh and blood?
Can you as a child of a parent imagine what it would be like to be DISOWNED by your parents?
In that verse, we know so well, John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” May I quote that verse in this way, "For God so loved YOU that He was willing to DENOUNCE His only begotten Sin, That YOU who believe should never be DENOUNCED, but have everlasting life." And that, my friends, was exactly what God did, because He LOVED YOU and I. Since Jesus was found guilty in my stead, His own Father turned His back on Him and thus Jesus cried not "MY FATHER," rather He cried "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?"
He entered the awful darkness that I might walk in the light.
He drank the cup of woe that I might drink the cup of joy.
He was forsaken by the Father that I might be forgiven by the Father.
There in heaven Jesus was pronounced GUILTY, He was FORSAKEN, DENOUNCED, and ABANDONED by His own Father. Jesus endured the cross, paid the price, and because His blood had been shed, the Father could lift the curtain of darkness after which Jesus cried, "I thirst." and "It is finished."
Now at that point, His fellowship was restored with the Father. No longer did Jesus have to say "MY GOD, MY GOD." His soul had born the weight of our sin. He had dipped His soul into Hell. His blood had been shed, therefore atonement was completed, and now once again He could say, "Father into thy hands, I commend my spirit."
If God spared not the Lord Jesus when sin was found on Him, what possible hope is there for you, unsaved one, that He will spare you when you stand before Him at the Great White Throne with sin upon you?
If God poured out His wrath on Christ on the cross, most certainly He is going to pour out His wrath on you, unsaved one, if you die in your sins.
If God turned His back on the Saviour, Jesus Christ, while He was on the cross, you too will be separated from God for ever, if you finally and absolutely reject Christ as your Savior. For again we read, Who (You) shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Therefore, Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
Here was a cry of Desolation, may you never echo it.
Here was a cry of separation, may you never experience it.
Here was a cry of expiation, may you appropriate its saving virtues.
Let me ask you, “Is He your God or is He your Father?” Your God can become your Father by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Once you have taken that step of faith, God will turn back toward you so you can say, "My Father which art in Heaven hallowed be thy name."
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon on the fourth words of Christ at Calvary, "My God, My God Why Has Thou Forsaken Me?"then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in:
Acts 16:31, “...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...” and in
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you please let me know? Please send me an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com. and in return I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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