Summary: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” I. This is an amazing question II. It has an amazing answer
April 9, 2004 — Good Friday
Christ Lutheran Church, Columbia, MD
Pastor Jeff Samelson
“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
I. This is an amazing question
II. It has an amazing answer
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” [Galatians 1:3-5, NIV]
We study this evening the Words of Christ from the cross as found in Matthew 27:46:
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"— which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". (NIV)
This is the Gospel of our Lord.
Dear Christian Friends:
It’s “Unhappy Hour” at the “Why Me?” Bar and Grill in Life’s-a-lulu, Ha-whiny. Two young men can be heard sharing their troubles — commiserating — at the end of the bar. They both, it turns out, have the same complaint, but their situations really could not be more different.
The first man is complaining about how his parents have cut him off. Not only will they not send him money, but they aren’t even interested in talking to him. He says he feels abandoned, and says, “Hey, your parents are supposed to love and accept you no matter what, right? Why have they left me alone like this? It’s not fair! Why are they treating me this way? I don’t get it!” But his parents’ behavior is not as much of a mystery as he makes it out to be. You see, the last time he was home, he took and sold his mother’s jewelry, stole his father’s car, and topped it all off with a note saying, “I’m just taking what I’m owed. I hate you, and want nothing more to do with you, ever.”
Now, the other young man says his parents have cut him off, too. No contact or communication of any kind — no comfort, no support, no love. They won’t even answer his calls. And he, too, asks why he’s being treated so unfairly — “Why have they left me alone? Why are they treating me this way?” But in his case, there is no easy explanation, because he was always the perfect son. He always did the right things, always showed them love and respect, and did whatever pleased them. He only left home because they sent him away, and now he’s all alone. He doesn’t understand it. It’s not like them to treat anyone this way, and it’s not fair. And so he asks, “Why me?”
As he hung on the cross, suffering and dying, Jesus was like one of these two young men. Guess which one.
OK, I know it’s not too hard to figure that out, but the contrast is helpful — it’s helpful to understand that when Jesus asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” his question was completely unlike any “Why me?” any other person has ever asked at any time before. Oh, sure, sometimes we have pretty good reasons for asking God “why?” — it’s not always our fault, and it’s not always “fair” — you know, “Why did I have this accident? Why did I get laid off? Why did my girlfriend leave me? Why did my spouse have to die?” Still, if we think about it, we recognize that there is always some kind of reason for all the unhappy and unfair things that happen in our lives.
I. But humanly speaking, there was no good reason for Jesus to be suffering and asking “Why?” Because he had done everything right. He deserved nothing but the best from his Father, and yet here on the cross he was getting the worst. He had been abandoned. Cut off. Left alone. Left to suffer. Left to die. Forsaken.
And you have to admit: that doesn’t make much sense to us. Some of the comments and reviews I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” make it clear that lots of people don’t get it at all. It’s a hard truth to wrap our minds around — that God the Father would, or could, leave God the Son alone. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is an amazing question.
In the first place you might say it’s amazing that Jesus would be asking God any question — I mean, Jesus, as God, would know what God knows, right? But here Jesus was speaking from his human nature and in his state of humiliation, in which he voluntarily set aside his divine powers and privileges, and so there were things hidden from his sight and comfort that was withheld from his heart.