Summary: Learn why Christ was forsaken on the cross.
FORSAKEN FOR US
We continue our series to prepare us for Easter. Two Sunday’s ago we looked at why Jesus had to suffer. Last week we saw how we can secure God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ death. This morning, we will look at the loneliness of Jesus on the cross and why no one came to his rescue, not even God, the Father.
Loneliness is a universal human experience. For me, a lonely experience happened last Christmas. While other families were opening presents, relaxing together, preparing and eating their Christmas dinner, I was driving down stormy I-5 to Anaheim, alone. I had agreed to perform a wedding that weekend for some good friends.
When I arrived in Anaheim that evening, I went to an imitation Panda Express for dinner, then unpacked and went to bed. When I woke up the next day, families with children excited about Disneyland filled the hallway outside my room door. The elevator was right across from my room. A sense of loneliness weighed me down. The day after Christmas was my birthday, and my family was over 400 miles away.
Do you recall a time of loneliness? Maybe you were invited to a party where the only person you knew was the host, and he was busy entertaining everyone else. Maybe you are in the U.S. without family or relatives. Some feel lonely in church, because they struggle with something they thought no one else does.
We all go through times of loneliness. The people we count on cannot comfort us. Sometimes we may even feel that God has deserted us. At death, those without God will enter eternity alone. That will be a lonely time.
Jesus was familiar with loneliness. The Bible records that at death Jesus was rejected by men and God. He didn’t have to be. In fact, Jesus didn’t even have to die. As the Son of God, Jesus could have command a host of angels to come to his rescue. He could have even continued with his ministry of teaching and healing without offending the religious or political authorities of His day. But He chose to die a lonely death on the cross.
When a person chooses an option that doesn’t provide personal benefit, we want to find out why. That is unusual. Why did Jesus choose not to defend himself before the chief priests, Pilate or Herod? And if He is the Messiah, the Son of God, why did he not use his powers to come down from the cross? Why did Jesus choose loneliness?
In John’s record, we read of people deserting Jesus. In Mark’s record, we read that even God deserted Jesus. Their reasons for forsaking Jesus were quite different. Let’s look closer at why Jesus was forsaken or deserted by people and God.
People deserted Jesus to save themselves. We see this in John 19:1-27.
First, Pilate, the Roman governor, handed Jesus over to be crucified in order to save his career. He found no basis for any charge against Jesus. The only reason for crucifying Jesus was to appease the chief priests and their officials. Before we criticize Pilate, we need to ask ourselves if we have ever sacrificed our integrity to keep our income, our job, our popularity or position. We must be careful not to exchange our soul for our salary or status.
Second, the chief priests and the officials wanted Jesus crucified in order to save their clout (their authority and influence over the Jews). Not that they were happy with the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, but they at least, to a limited degree, could carry out their authority over the Jewish people. They were so blinded by their lust for power and self-importance that they could not see God coming in the form of a servant. We lose our God-given authority when we stop serving others and become self-serving.
Third, many of Jesus’ followers deserted Him in order to save their own lives. Only a few stayed close: John, the beloved disciple, Mary the mother of Jesus, and three other ladies. The rest were afraid that what was happening to Jesus could happen to them.
After all, Jesus said, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also (John 15:20).” Jesus didn’t hide the cost of following Him. But the same Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).” Make decisions base not on what man will do to you but on what God promises for you.