Summary: Our faith tends to rise and fall based on our circumstances. The more pain we feel the more doubt we express. But Jesus, even as he died on the cross, rose about his feelings of abandonment and entrusted his spirit into the Father’s care.
I saw an article recently entitled, “God’s Friday.” That makes far more sense to me than “Good Friday.” There is nothing good about what happened to Jesus in and around Jerusalem about 2000 years ago.
1. Jesus’ Circumstances
• Satan and his demons oppressed him – tempting him to avoid the cross, to disobey his Heavenly Father
• One of his disciples sold him for 30 pieces of silver – the price of a slave
• One of his closest friends cursed himself – called on God to send him to hell – in order to prove he did not know Jesus
• The rest of his disciples ran away to hide in the shadows
• His enemies mocked him
• Soldiers beat him
• They whipped his back until his skin was hanging in shreds
• A crown of thorns pierced his scalp
• Nails punctured his hands and feet – crushing bones and pinching nerves
• BUT worst of all – God turned his back on Jesus as the sinless Son of God became sin for us
• Under these circumstances, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”
2. Our Circumstances – people all around you perhaps even the ones next to you tonight have the same cry
• Persecuted Christians around the world facing prison or even death must wonder – God, why have you forsaken me?!
• The abused wife feeling trapped and alone cries herself to sleep asking, God, why have you forsaken me?!
• Parents keeping vigil over a child fighting a deadly cancer can be heard to question God, why have you forsaken me?!
• The orphaned child who barely escaped the minivan his mother drove into a river must be crying tonight as he asks God, why have you forsaken me?!
• The retired couple whose savings disappeared in the Great recession is worrying about their future as they have doubts – God, why have you forsaken me?!
• Someone addicted to porn, or alcohol, or drugs or work cries out for freedom and wonders God, why have you forsaken me?!
• Victims of violent crime as well as children bought and sold in the sex trafficking industry must whimper,
3. Jesus’ Faith
• Jesus knows the pain of feeling forsaken and left to the designs of his abusers
• But his last words were a statement of faith
• “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
• These words reflect hope, faith, confidence even joy and peace
4. Our Faith
Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name "Brennan." While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan's life was spared.
When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name "Brennan." Years later he went to visit Ray's mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, "Do you think Ray loved me?" Mrs. Brennan got up off the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan's face and shouted, "What more could he have done for you?" Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? And Jesus' mother Mary pointing to her son, saying, "What more could he have done for you?"
The cross of Jesus is God's way of doing all he could do for us. And yet we often wonder, Does God really love me? Am I important to God? Does God care about me?
Citation: adapted from James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God (IVP, 2009)
Our faith tends to rise and fall based on our circumstances. The more pain we feel the more doubt we express. But Jesus, even as he died on the cross, rose about his feelings of abandonment and entrusted his spirit into the Father’s care.
You can follow Jesus’ example. You can entrust your lives to our Heavenly Father even though you are immersed in painful circumstances.
RESPONSE GOAL / INVITATION:
• Will you trust your Heavenly Father even when your bank account shrinks?