Summary: The fourth word that Jesus uttered on the cross was a word of anguish addressed to the Father. It is found in Matthew 27:46.
It is often profitable to study the last words of dying men. Many sermons have been preached on the last words of Jesus. As he hung on the cross on that first Good Friday he uttered seven short sentences or phrases. We usually call these the “seven last words of Christ.”
For the past few Good Fridays we have been examining these so-called “last words” of Christ.
The first word that Jesus uttered was a word of forgiveness addressed to the Father on behalf of those who were crucifying him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The second word that Jesus uttered was a word of salvation spoken to the thief on the cross: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
The third word that Jesus uttered was a word of compassion addressed primarily to his mother who he entrusted into the care of the apostle John: “Dear woman, here is your son” (John 19:25-27).
The fourth word that Jesus uttered was a word of anguish addressed to the Father. It is 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?’" (Matthew 27:46)
Max Lucado gives the following account in his book titled No Wonder They Call Him Savior.
The summer of 1980 in Miami was nothing to smile about. The Florida heat scorched the city during the day and baked it at night. Riots, lootings, and racial tension threatened to snap the frayed emotions of the people. Everything soared: unemployment, inflation, the crime rate, and especially the thermometer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a Miami Herald reporter captured a story that left the entire Gold Coast breathless. It was the story of Judith Bucknell. Attractive, young, successful, and dead.
Judith Bucknell was homicide number 106 that year. She was killed on a steamy June 9th evening. Age: 38. Weight: 109 pounds. Stabbed seven times. Strangled.
She kept a diary. Had she not kept this diary perhaps the memory of her would have been buried with her body. But the diary exists; a painful epitaph to a lonely life. The correspondent made this comment about her writings:
"In her diaries, Judy created a character and a voice. The character is herself, wistful, struggling, weary; the voice is yearning. Judith Bucknell has failed to connect; age 38, many lovers, much love offered, none returned."
Her struggles weren’t unusual. She worried about getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting pregnant, and getting by. She lived in stylish Coconut Grove (Coconut Grove is where you live if you are lonely but act happy).
Judy was the paragon of the confused human being. Half of her life was fantasy, half was nightmare. Successful as a secretary, but a loser at love. Her diary was replete with entries such as the following:
"Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food. . . . I would like to have in my life, once before I pass through my life, the kind of sexual relationship which is part of a loving relationship."
She never did.
Judy was not a prostitute. She was not on drugs or on welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged. She hosted parties. She wore designer clothes and had an apartment that overlooked the bay. And she was very lonely. “I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up. What about me! What about me!”
Though surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Though she had many lovers (fifty-nine in fifty-six months), she had little love.
“Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?” the diary continues. “I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.”
A clear message came from her aching words. Though her body died on June 9th from the wounds of a knife, her heart had died long before. . . from loneliness.
“I’m alone,” she wrote, “and I want to share something with somebody.”
It’s a cry. A moan, a wail. It’s a gasp whose origin is in the recesses of our souls.
Can you hear it? The abandoned child. The divorcee. The quiet home. The empty mailbox. The long days. The longer nights. A one-night stand. A forgotten birthday. A silent phone.
Cries of loneliness. Listen again. Tune out the traffic and turn down the TV. The cry is there. Our cities are full of Judy Bucknells. You can hear their cries. You can hear them in the convalescent home among the sighs and shuffling feet. You can hear them in the prisons among the moans of shame and the calls for mercy. You can hear them if you walk the manicured streets of suburban America, among the aborted ambitions and aging homecoming queens. Listen for it in the halls of our high schools where peer pressure weeds out the “have-nots” from the “haves.”