Summary: While we may understand the words Jesus spoke in this statement, we lack the ability to comprehend the enormity of His words and the actual context in which He spoke them. He was forsaken so we could escape being eternally condemned and forsaken.
My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
We have spent the last three weeks considering the sayings of Christ upon the cross. Up until this point we have witnessed the awesome grace and mercy of our Lord as He prayed for forgiveness, promised salvation, and made provision for His mother.
For me, this is the most difficult of the seven sayings to consider. It deals with an issue that we had rather not consider. In fact, with all due respect, our very nature is repulsed by this account. As the children of God, we look upon the cross with great humility and admiration, but our humanity has difficulty embracing the fact that Jesus was forsaken as He hung upon the cross, bearing the sins of the world.
This may be a subject that we have trouble considering, but it is true nonetheless. Our blessed Lord bore our sin in His body, and in doing so, He endured a time of separation from God the Father. I want to spend some time this morning examining this precious passage as we consider the eternal truths revealed as Christ cried out: My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
I. The Timing of these Words (33-34a) – And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. [34a] And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice. At this point in the crucifixion, Jesus has already been on the cross for about three hours. At the 6th hour (noon) darkness invades the land until the 9th hour (3:00).
We cannot begin to imagine or comprehend the suffering that Jesus has endured during those three hours upon the cross. Spikes are driven though His hands and feet. His muscles are cramping; it is hard to even take a breath under such conditions. The Son of God has been hung upon a cross, reserved for the vilest of criminals, and has endured the mockery and shame of the multitude as they tormented Him.
But now, as the 6th hour approaches, darkness covers the land. This was the middle of the day, noon-time, and there is complete, absolute darkness. This could not have been an eclipse because we know it was at the Passover, during a full moon. The sun and moon were not at the right positions for an eclipse. This was a miracle of God! So, why was there darkness at this time during the crucifixion?
1. Prophecy – Amos 8:9 – And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:
2. Mercy – Christ had endured the suffering of ridicule and shame as He hung naked upon the cross. God turned the lights out upon the ridicule!
3. Fulfillment – Humanity was under the grip and darkness of sin. Jesus entered the darkness of sin so that all could be delivered from its darkness into His glorious light!
4. Sovereignty – God was judging the sins of the world in His Son, and the world had no business looking in on that sovereign transaction!
II. The Truth of these Words (34) – And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? What can we discover in these enduring words of our Lord? Notice:
A. The Prophecy – Much had been prophesied of the Lord’s coming and crucifixion by the prophets of old. As Jesus made His entrance to this world, walked among men, died, and rose again, He fulfilled each of those prophecies to the letter. These words were prophesied of David concerning the crucifixion of Christ. Ps.22:1 – My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
B. The Parting – Why hast thou forsaken me? We cannot begin to imagine the agony and suffering that Jesus endured at this moment in time. This reveals the reality of the cross for Christ our Lord. He was forsaken of God, literally “abandoned, deserted, left helpless, and utterly forsaken.”
We really cannot appreciate the enormity of the emotion that Jesus felt. There has never been a time when Jesus didn’t exist. He has always been, even since before the creation of the world, and during His existence He had never experienced separation from the Father.
There had never been a time when He failed to please God. There had never been a time where He sinned or needed to seek forgiveness. He had always enjoyed that sweet, abundant fellowship with God, but as He hung upon the cross, bearing our sins, that fellowship was broken. It was there as Jesus became our sacrifice, bearing our sin, that God turned His back on His only begotten Son because He could not look upon sin.