Summary: The fourth of Jesus’ sayings from the Cross.
WHEN GOD TURNED AWAY
(#4 in the series CrossWords)
Jesus was on the Cross for approximately six hours. For three hours man did his worst. For three hours God did His best.
C. S. Lewis captured the Cross event in a poem:
"Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and His."
At the cross Jesus experienced something that He had never experienced before. From eternity past Jesus had always been in the presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. When He hung on the cross, Jesus experienced for a time the absence of God’s presence. It didn’t mean that He had rejected the Father. And it didn’t mean that the Father didn’t love Him.
When our son Will was five weeks old, he spent several days in the hospital with pneumonia. He had to spend much of his time in the hospital in an oxygen tent out of the arms of his mother. His cries were heartbreaking.
When our oldest daughter Emily was three she had spinal meningitis and spent 10 days in the hospital. When we first got to the hospital with her they took her from our arms to do a spinal tap. We weren’t allowed to be in the room where it was done. I can still hear her cries through the door.
When our children were separated from us at the hospital it didn’t mean that we didn’t love them or that they had rejected us. They were separated from us in a way that they had never experienced before. This is a poor analogy to illustrate what Jesus experienced on the Cross for us. But it may help us understand in some small way His experience.
Through His suffering on the Cross, Jesus won a great victory. It was a paradox difficult to understand. Through His death, Jesus purchased eternal life for us. He laid down His life and picked up the victory. He conquered death, hell, sin and the grave.
I. JESUS CONQUERED THE DARKNESS OF SIN
A. Darkness Caused by Sin (15:33)
The Bible says that darkness covered the entire land from 12 noon until 3:00 p.m. This darkness was no mere solar eclipse. It was a supernatural darkness caused by God Himself.
Amos 8:9 - “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight.”
There lived an Egyptian philosopher at that time named Diogenes. He said about this darkness, “Either the Deity himself suffers at this moment or He sympathizes with one that does.”
In the midst of this darkness Jesus cried out in loneliness. He had been abandoned by his disciples in the Garden. While He sweat blood in prayer they slept. He had been denied by Simon Peter in the courtyard. And now even God the Father turned His face away from the Lord Jesus.
Why did Jesus cry out in loneliness? Because at that moment He was feeling the full wrath of God against all the sins of mankind-past, present and future. In that moment Jesus experienced the ultimate loneliness; the loneliness of being separated from God. What should we learn from this event?
1. Sin brings darkness and loneliness.
The sin of Pharaoh in Exodus 10 caused God to bring darkness upon the land of Egypt for three days. While the Egyptians sat around in the dark at night the children of Israel had lights in their homes.
a. People who live in sin are more comfortable in the darkness.
John 3:19-21 (NKJV) - "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
b. People who die in their sins will spend eternity in a place of “outer darkness.”
Jesus conquered the darkness of sin for us. We don’t have to live in spiritual darkness anymore. God abandoned Jesus at Calvary’s cross so He never would have to abandon us.
II. JESUS CONQUERED THE BITTERNESS OF SIN (15:35-36)
When Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi. . .” some around the cross thought he was calling for Elijah. One person filled a sponge with a bitter, sour wine and put it to the lips of Jesus. This fulfilled the Scripture of Psa. 69:21 that says, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”