“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
The Fourth Sunday In Lent
Pastor Edward Markquart, minister of Grace Lutheran Church in Seattle spoke about abandonment his great grandmother felt. It was when his grandmother and her husband decided to move their young family from Denmark to The United States. All her attempts to change her daughter's mind failed and as the ferry sailed away his great grandmother cried, as she knew she would never see them again. Her heart was filled with thoughts of abandonment. Later she expressed to her daughter in a letter about her heartbreak and that they could never imagine what an emptiness they left in her life. Sadly, Markquart's great grandmother died with resentment, because of the abandonment she felt. When we pause on this fourth Sunday in Lent, we hear the cry from the lips of our Saviour – “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani” – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” There was never and will never be an abandonment as the one our Lord experienced. Forever He felt the closeness and harmony of His relationship with His Father and the Holy Spirit. But now, it was going to change into the deepest level of loneliness and abandonment one can think of. Between heaven, that became silent when Jesus hung on the cross...and the earth where He wasn't wanted, our Lord cried out, “...why have You forsaken me?”
From Mark 15: 33-41 we first learn that 1 The Abandonment Lasted More Than Six Hours. We read in verse 25 that it was about the ninth hour in the morning when they crucified Jesus – in other words when He was nailed to the cross. And it was at three in the afternoon that He spoke these words and almost immediately after that He died. Many scholars and theologians asked over the ages, “Why did Jesus only last six hours on the cross?” In what they studied they learned that criminals could last days on a cross and in most cases they died of exposure or thirst. But you see, my friends, the two criminals next to Jesus and the others who died before and after on Roman crosses never had a Gethsemane experience. That took a lot out of Jesus when He was in agony and close to the point of death, because of fear that overwhelmed Him, as we read in some translations. So really, the abandonment lasted more than the six hours at Golgotha. From the time Jesus entered the garden of Gethsemane till He breathed His last breath, His Father was silent. There was no dialogue; there was no answer when the Son cried out to the Father. Have you ever cried out to someone, someone you knew could hear you, but there was no response? Especially for a child it's difficult to deal with a situation like that. A group of pastors discussed what it must have been like for Jesus when He was forsaken by His Father. They decided to go to a dark abandoned building and ask a man to lock them in one of the rooms. They paid the man and said, “Stay outside the door, but don't open it for three hours.” They tried to do their best in darkness, but after a while they called out to the man outside the room. They thought they fully comprehended what it must have been like for Jesus. They yelled as loud as they could, but nothing happened. One pastor said, “What if he decided to leave? No one will find us here, we're doomed.” They continued to shout for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly they heard the key turn in the lock. Then there was a bright light that blinded them. One of the pastors told the man that it wasn't funny to leave them the whole day in that dark room. The man responded, “But you've been only 45 minutes inside and you instructed me not to open the door for three hours!” No one will ever comprehend what Jesus endured all those hours when the Father didn't come to His aid. For our sake the Father didn't respond, because the Lamb of God had to be slaughtered for our salvation.
We have to consider 2 The Significance Of The Darkness At Golgotha. Mark tells us that darkness came over the whole land at noon. For three hours the sun didn't shine as Luke expressed in his Gospel. You will be familiar with the Negro Spiritual, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” One of the lines in the song is, “Were you there when the sun refused to shine?” The word that described the sun stopped shining in Luke 23: 45 is “ekleiro.” It means to fail or to give out. That's what happened when Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. The normal functions of nature failed or gave out, because of the reality what happened there. The Prince of heaven; the Perfect Lamb of God was forsaken in darkness to the point of death. Commentators wrote about the significance of the darkness in the land. First it pointed out the 3 Moral Darkness that became a reality. Because of all their sins the people of the world were covered in darkness and only Jesus could break the darkness by fulfilling the mission of the Father.
Secondly, the 4 Prophecies Of The Old Testament were fulfilled. One of them is Amos 8: 9, "'In that day,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.” That day was the day when Jesus died – the day you and I were saved from eternal death.
There is a third interpretation of the darkness that came – Philo, a first century Jewish writer, saw supernatural eclipses as 5 Indications Of The Impending Death Of A King.” The King of all kings died on the Good Friday. First He was mocked with the title, “King of the Jews”, but then the Roman centurion spoke words he didn't think would come from his lips, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.” Can you appreciate with me? – first the Son had to be forsaken by the Father and then the confession came – the King of all kings just gave His life for the world.
The fourth interpretation of the darkness at Golgotha is difficult for us to meditate on –
6 God's Full Wrath For The Sins Of The World Came In Fierce Power On His Son. Jesus bore the full punishment because of our sins. The Father didn't just abandon Him. No, all the punishment that could be delivered, because of all the wrongdoing of the past, present and future came down on Jesus Christ. And when we meditate on that reality, we all feel moved in our hearts to sing out loud, "Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" We thank our Lord for His fourth word from the cross. Because He spoke those words, we never have to be forsaken by God. He took it in our place. His passion was immeasurable. We acknowledge Him again as The Man of Sorrows and Lord of our lives.