Summary: Christ went through a period of agony on the cross as He was separated from His Father. This sermon looks at the reason he was separated from His Father.
Today we come to the fourth week of our series on the Seven Statements from the Cross. Last week we saw Jesus entrust his mother to John, John would become her son, and her, his mother. We saw through their total obedience what kinds of sacrifice obedience can require of a family, spiritual and physical. The statement that we will look at today reflected an agony that the other statements didn’t seem to show. Even though throughout the whole process we know that He had to be in complete physical agony, this statement showed the complete mental and spiritual agony that He was in at the moment He made this statement.
The darkness that came over the land for those three hours had to have been an eerie feeling. I believe that darkness was not only a physical darkness but also a spiritual darkness. I truly believe that it was an act of God. Maybe it was a sign of judgment to the Jews for what they were doing. Some people might say, “Could it have not been an eclipse?” It could not have been an eclipse because the moon was full at Passover time. But it was in that third hour that Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus spoke it in Aramaic. Jesus probably spoke at least three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It is believed that Jesus more commonly spoke in Aramaic. It’s amazing when you look at Psalm 22 how it goes along with so much of the crucifixion story. The first verse of that Psalm was Jesus’ statement here. It has been suggested by many that Jesus was simply repeating that Psalm to himself as a picture of his own situation. Of course that Psalm ends on a very high note of trust and confidence in God. Just as this situation would end on a very high note three days later and Christ did know that. Bible scholar William Barclay said, “It is an attractive suggestion; but on a cross a man does not repeat poetry to himself, even the poetry of a psalm…” Then again this wasn’t any ordinary man. Jesus quoted scripture for everything else in His life, he certainly could have been again. But I do believe that at that moment that sins of the world were thrust upon Christ. In that time that he who had no sin became sin, it brought him separation from His Father. Sin separates us from God. Isaiah told the people in Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you.” His Father had hidden His Face from Him as He took on the sin of the world. It was an agonizing feeling for the one who lived in total intimacy with His Father, depending on Him each step of the way. How many times did we see Jesus trying to sneak off and be alone with His Father. How many times did He pray to His Father to seek the strength he needed. As painful as the physical cruelty of the cross was, I believe the pain of isolation from his Father during that time hurt him more than any nail piercing His skin. But I don’t believe the pain stopped with Christ, can you imagine how hard it was on the Father to have to turn away as His son paid the price for us. As this statement speaks of the isolation and loneliness that Christ was experiencing. I just want to remind you of the reasons why Christ was separated from His Father.
Christ was separated from his Father because of your sin and mine. Isaiah spoke to the day of Christ taking on our sins hundreds of years in advance. Listen to what he said in Isaiah 53:4,5 “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…” Being crushed I don’t believe was just physical, but it was spiritual as well as he felt His Father turn from Him. Now I know that I already mentioned that his separation came from taking on the sins of the world. But when we say the sins of the world that can be so impersonal that we lose perspective on our part of it. The truth is that Christ experienced this pain and isolation on the cross because of your sin, and my sin. Each of us played a part of Him being on that cross and experiencing that isolation from His Father. Christ not only paid the price for the sins of those who had gathered around the Cross and mocking him, or those who had abandoned him and denied him at the hour of his greatest need for support, but the price He paid went all the way to thousands of years later. Christ wasn’t only doing it for the present but He was doing it for the future. He knew that there would be other people who would sin and God is a just God. There has to be a price for those sins. But what Christ did covered not only the sins that we have committed in our lives so far, but if we fall in the future, if we do something we shouldn’t have done, if we allow our minds to become captive to thoughts that we shouldn’t have, those sins have been covered when in repentance we trust in Christ and what He did for us. When you truly think about what your sin and my sin caused Christ to have to go through, not only physically, but also spiritually, there is no way that you cannot hate sin if you truly love Christ. I remember those times of separation that I’ve gone through. I remember when I was 18 years old and my parents took me down to Warner Southern College. I was all excited. I couldn’t wait to have fun and to meet new people. I couldn’t wait to hit the beach. I was fortunate I had four people from my youth group who also went to my high school that were already students there. So I would know someone. But the day my mom and dad left to go back home without me. In my heart tears were streaming down my face, and even though there were a handful of people I already knew, I felt so alone. I wanted to say, “wait, I’ve changed my mind. I want to go with you.” The highway that the college sat on went all the way through my hometown in Lexington, just like highway 60 that we have here does as well. There were so many times during that first couple of months that I just wanted to start walking that highway and go home. Some of you have gone through separation from your earthly dad or other family members and you remember the pain that you felt and some of you might still be feeling. As much as that separation brought agony to you, the agony that Christ went through was so much worse. And it was our sin that brought it upon Him.