Summary: Exposition of fourth and fifth cries from the cross, second of three in Easter Series 09
A. Opening illustration: “Now again we approach the cross and hear the cry of Jesus. Here all the forces of the universe converge: Man did his work by killing the Son of God and revealing the evil of his heart; Satan did his work by bruising the see of the woman, and displaying his foolish hostility; Jesus did a work, for He died “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Pet 3:18); and finally God did a work by exhibiting His justice and love when His wrath was poured out on His Son.” –Lutzer, It is said that 16th c. theologian Martin Luther once sat in his study for hours to meditate on this passage. For hours he sat oblivious to the world around him. Finally, someone heard him say, “God forsaking God . . . no one can understand that” and he went on about his business. The great 19th c. preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, preached a message on this passage and said, “I think I can understand the words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as they are written by David in the 22nd Psalm; but the same words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" when uttered by Jesus on the cross, I cannot comprehend, so I shall not pretend to be able to explain them.”
B. Background to passage: The next two statements from the cross that we will look at are found in these two texts. Both of them are cries of anguish and pain. This morning we will look at a truth which still mystifies theologians today…God forsaking God.
C. Main thought: Jesus endured an incomprehensible amount of suffering on the cross for us.
A. Physically Forsaken
1. Crucifixion is said to be one of the most painful and slow ways to die known to man. In fact, it was devised to be exactly that. The actual mode of death is dehydration and asphyxiation as breathing is made incredibly difficult, as the pericardium around the heart begins to fill with fluid compressing the heart. Of course all of this was after a night in a pit unable to sleep or sit, a beating that would usually eviscerate men, having his beard plucked out, a crown of thorns twisted into his brow, and then made to carry at least the cross beam possibly weighing more than 200 lbs a half mile or so to Golgotha. And so it is no surprise that he was thirsty. The loss of fluids would have produced a cotton mouth sensation.
2. Ps 22:14-21, Heb 12:3, Isa 53:3-12
3. Illustration: “he compressed an eternity of hell (times millions of believers) into three hours,” the medical description of the cross—ill file, “I believe every Christian should hang on a cross for at least thirty seconds. Their lives will never be the same.”
4. Christ gave every last bit of strength that he had. He held back nothing for you. He knew what the end of the day held. And he did it as a man. He was fully human. He felt every little pain in its entirety. He did it alone. He knows what it is like to be alone, totally misunderstood, and forced to bear the load by yourself. He knows what it is like to have constant pain, for those of you who endure that. He knows what it is like to cry out, beg, plead, and implore God for deliverance and answers to prayer and hear no answer in return. And he did this for you, because the justice of God demands your death. Picture your sin adorning Christ on the cross.
B. Spiritually Forsaken
1. But worse than the physical pain by far was the separation from His Father. Never had there ever been a break in the fellowship of the Father and His Son. But both Matthew and Mark note His loud clear cry, addressing God for the only time as anything other than “Father.” The word translated “forsake” means to abandon, to leave behind, or turn away from. The Father turned his face from His Son because of the guilt transferred to him. John Stott wrote: “Our sins blotted out the sunshine of the Father’s face.” But this had to be for the Father cannot look upon sin. And at this moment in time, Jesus became sin for us. Our sin and guilt was legally transferred to his account, and God’s infinite wrath was poured out upon Jesus. Jesus became guilty of murder, rape, gossip, pride, envy, hatred, rebellion, witchcraft, idolatry, fornication, pornography, gambling, failure, everything! Whatever the physical pain was, it does not compare to bearing millions of eternal punishments in the span of a few hours, and doing it utterly alone; all the favor and resources of His father having been stripped away at the most needed hour.