7 Last Words of Jesus from the Cross
Father God, as this Word goes forth, please send it straight to our hearts, so we will never forget what You did by sending Your Son Jesus to die for our sin. Bless these Words to fall on good grounds, so that all would bring forth good fruit in their season. Thank You for the opportunity to share Your Word about our Savior Jesus Christ. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Title: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Reading: Matthew 27:46 English Standard Version (ESV)
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"Cross References: Psalm 22:1; Isaiah 50:6; 53:5, Psalm 22:16-18, Mark 15:34, Luke 22:44, 1 Peter 3:18
Theme: (The Passion of Christ)
Warm-up Question: What happen when they finished communion?
Goal: To know Immanuel (God is with us)
In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out the opening words of Psalm 22. And although much has been suggested regarding the meaning of this phrase, it was quite apparent the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning away from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin. Thank You Jesus!
But physical torment takes its toll. He suddenly discovers that he cannot hear the still, small voice; he has lost his two-way communication with God. His lifeline is not working, so he must face the narrow gate of death alone.
This was the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both Gospels related that it was in the ninth hour, after 3 hours of darkness that Jesus cried out this fourth word. The ninth hour was three o'clock in Judea. After the fourth Word, Mark related with a horrible sense of finality, "And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last" (Mark 15:37).
One is struck by the anguished tone of this expression in contrast to the first three words of Jesus. This cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus who must feel deserted by His Father and the Holy Spirit, not to mention his earthly companions the Apostles. As if to emphasize his loneliness, Mark even has his loved ones "looking from afar," not close to him as in the Gospel of John. Jesus feels separated from his Father. He is now all alone, and he must face death by himself.
But is not this exactly what happens to all of us when we die? We too are all alone at the time of death! Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doing so, frees us from the clutches of sin.
His fourth Word is the opening line of Psalm 22, and thus his cry from the Cross recalls the cry of Israel, and of all innocent persons who suffer. Psalm 22 of David makes a striking prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah at a time when crucifixion was not known to exist: "They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones" (22:16-17). The Psalm continues: "They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots" (22:18).
There can not be a more dreadful moment in the history of man as this moment. Jesus who came to save us is crucified, and He realizes the horror of what is happening and what He now is enduring. He is about to be engulfed in the raging sea of sin. Evil triumphs, as Jesus admits: "But this is your hour" (Luke 22:53). But it is only for a moment. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Savior.
But does this not have to happen? Does this not have to occur if Jesus is to save us? It is in defeat of his humanity that the Divine plan of His Father will be completed. It is by His death that we are redeemed. "For there is one God!" There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (I Timothy 2:5-6).
Reading Scripture in another version: Revised Standard Version (RSV)
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, la′ma sabach-tha′ni?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Let's look at this………….
Of all the challenges thrown at Christianity in modern times, perhaps the most difficult is explaining the problem of suffering. How can a loving God allow suffering to continue in the world which He created? For those who have endured massive suffering themselves, this is much more than a philosophical issue, but a deep-seated personal and emotional one. How does the Bible address this issue? Does the Bible give us any examples of suffering and some indicators on how to deal with it?
The Bible is startlingly realistic when it comes to the problem of endured suffering. For one thing, the Bible devotes an entire book to dealing with the problem. This book concerns a man named Job. It begins with a scene in heaven which provides the reader with the background of Job's suffering. Job suffers because God contested with Satan. As far as we know, this was never known by Job or any of his friends. It is therefore not surprising that they all struggle to explain Job's suffering from the perspective of their ignorance, until Job finally rests in nothing but the faithfulness of God and the hope of His redemption. Neither Job nor his friends understood at the time the reasons for his suffering. In fact, when Job is finally confronted by the Lord, Job is silent. Job's silent response does not in any way trivialize the intense pain and loss he had so patiently endured. Rather, it underscores the importance of trusting God's purposes in the midst of suffering, even when we don't know what those purposes are. Suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by the sovereign wisdom of God. In the end, we learn that we may never know the specific reason for our suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering.
Another example of suffering in the Bible is Joseph's story in the book of Genesis. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. In Egypt, he was indicted on false charges and thrown into prison. As a result of Joseph's suffering and endurance, by God's grace and power, Joseph is later promoted to governor of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. He finds himself in a position to make provision for the nations of the world during a time of famine, including his own family and the brothers who sold him into slavery! The message of this story is summarized in Joseph's address to his brothers in (Genesis 50:19-21): "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children."
(Romans 8:28) contains some comforting words for those enduring hardship and suffering: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." In His providence, God orchestrates every event in our lives—even suffering, temptation and sin—to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit.
The psalmist David endured much suffering in his time, and this is reflected in many of his poems collected in the book of Psalms. In (Psalm 22), we hear David's anguish: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry out by day but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'"
It remains a mystery to David why God does not intervene and end his suffering and pain. He sees God as enthroned as the Holy One, the praise of Israel. God lives in heaven where all is good, where there is no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred. What does God know of all that humans endure? David goes on to complain that "dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."
Did God ever answer David? Yes, many centuries later, David received his answer. Roughly one millennium later, a descendant of David named Jesus was killed on a hill called Calvary. On the cross, Jesus endured the suffering and shame of his forefather. Christ's hands and feet were pierced. Christ's garments were divided among his enemies. Christ was stared at and derided. In fact, Christ uttered the words with which David opens this psalm: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" thus identifying Himself with the suffering of David.
Christ, the eternal Son of God in whom the fullness of God dwells, has lived on earth as a human being and has endured hunger, thirst, temptation, shame, persecution, nakedness, bereavement, betrayal, mockery, injustice and death. Therefore, He is in a position to fulfill the longing of Job: "If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot" (Job 9:33).
Christian theism is, in fact, the only worldview which can consistently make sense of the problem of evil and suffering. Christians serve a God who has lived on this earth and endured trauma, temptation, bereavement, torture, hunger, thirst, persecution and even execution. The cross of Christ can be regarded as the ultimate manifestation of God's justice. When asked how much God cares about the problem of evil and suffering, the Christian God can point to the cross and say, "That much." Christ experienced rejection from God, saying, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" He experienced the same suffering as many people do today who are feeling isolated from God's favor and love.
We are all prone to disappointment and feelings of rejection, and that is especially true in the aftermath of a broken relationship. However, as born-again believers we have a resource in God's Word that can bring comfort and clarity to the situation. One person's rejection does not mean we are unlovable. But we can allow that one rejection to determine how we feel and allow that feeling to color our idea of who we are, or we can choose to put that behind us and move forward on the basis of something that is far more lasting.
What is that? For believers, it is our position in Christ. When we are born again, we are accepted. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves" (Ephesians 1:3-6).
Even though we do not deserve it nor can we earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9), the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and has made us accepted in Him. This acceptance is His gift of grace, and it transcends any and all other "feelings" we may have because it is not based on "hope so" but on "know so." We know that this is true because God's Word tells us, and as we appropriate this truth by faith, it becomes reality in our hearts and lives.
Walking by our feelings is like walking through the world with our heart on our sleeve. We are bound to be hurt, and we are bound to be disappointed, for we live in a fallen world. What we choose to do with that hurt and disappointment will either allow us to grow stronger in our walk with the Lord or it will mean that we are walking wounded. Both outcomes are our choice. God makes it possible for us to walk through the disappointments in life with a knowledge that His provision for us works. His grace and His comfort are ours as we rest in Him. Every born-again child of God has all of these provisions and blessings in Christ, but we have to choose to utilize them. It is sort of like having a million dollars in the bank and choosing to starve to death because we don't use that money to buy food. It is also true that we cannot use what we do not know. Therefore, it behooves every believer to "know" the God who knows us and loves us, and that means more than a devotional reading of God's Word but study that changes our perspective (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and allows us to face life armed with real understanding about the reality of walking by faith.
As believers we are not defined by our past failures or by disappointment or by the rejection of others. We are defined as children of God, born again to newness of life and endowed with every spiritual blessing and accepted in Christ Jesus. That is the defining factor when it comes to victorious living. God has prepared for each of us unique opportunities to walk through the "all things" of this life. We can either walk in our own strength and what the Apostle Paul calls our "flesh," or we can walk in the power of the provision God has made for us through the Holy Spirit. It is our choice. God has provided us with armor (Ephesians 6:11-18), but it is up to us to put it on by faith.
Therefore, if you are a child of God, you may suffer disappointment in this life, but you need to remember that as a child of the King, this rejection is a momentary bump in the road. You have a choice to either allow that bump to derail you and walk wounded, or you can choose to claim the heritage of a child of God and move forward in grace. Forgiveness of others and of self is a gift that you can give because it is the gift given to you by the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:32).
"The Bible is clear that God cannot look upon sin!" I would boldly proclaim. It seemed reasonable to me that God turned away from Jesus. After all, isn't that what Jesus said? The answer is, "No, that is not what He said. That is what He asked. There's a big difference between making an assertion and asking a question." "Do you mean Jesus was wrong?" you might ask. My answer is that it was Jesus, the Man who became sin for us. When he absorbed the darkness and weight of the sin of the world into Himself, He had the sense of abandonment by God the Father that sin always brings. Blinded by sin and horrified by its effect on and in Him, the man Jesus cried out of His humanity, "Why have you forsaken me?" In that moment, He identified Himself with every person who has ever felt abandoned by God. He became one who felt isolated, lonely, abandoned, forsaken and hopeless on behalf of you, me, and everybody who would ever feel that way. The question Jesus spoke was a direct quote from the prophetic Psalm 22, where in the very first verse the psalmist asks, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It is noteworthy that this is the only time Jesus ever called His Father "God" and not "Father." In that moment,the man Jesus felt forsaken. Having become sin for us, He could not feel or sense or see His Father's embrace at that moment. The gospels don't record an answer to His question, but Psalm 22 does. In response to the first verse where the psalmist cries out the prophetic words, "Why have you forsaken me?" there is an answer in verse 24. Here's the answer to the question of Jesus, the question of the psalmist and the question of every person who has ever felt abandoned by the Father: For he (God the Father) has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. Sin may deafen our ears to the answer, but the reality is that the Father has never and will never despise, disdain or turn His face away from us, forsaking us. He has heard our cry for help! God the Father forsaking His own Son? Impossible! God the Father was "in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself!" (2 Corinthians 5:19) Jesus didn't feel it at the time. It seemed like the Father had forsaken Him, but He hadn't! Nor will He ever forsake you.
But what about the "God cannot look upon sin" part? Doesn't the Bible say that? Well, it does but we need to put that comment in context. It was Habakkuk the prophet who said that as he watched evil people seemingly getting away with their sins. Here's the whole quote in context: Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Habakkuk 1:13 to paraphrase him, Habakkuk said, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil and you can't tolerate wrong so why are you?" In other words, it made no sense to Habakkuk that God was looking on sin when Habakkuk believed that wasn't possible. He was smearing the face of God with the guilt and shame of humanity the same way Adam had done when he hid himself in the Garden of Eden because He thought God wouldn't want to look at him after he sinned. Adam was wrong. God came for His walk that day just as He had every day. And Habakkuk was wrong too. The fact is that God can look upon sin. Some people act as if the relationship of God the Father to sin is like Superman's aversion to kryptonite. They act as if God is afraid of sin, but nothing could be further from the truth. In Christ Jesus, sin has been destroyed - finished- end of story. (Daniel 9:24) Through the finished work of the cross, sin has been defeated! God hates sin because of what it does to us, not because it does anything to Him. So, on the cross Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself. As a man who became sin for us (so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him), He felt forsaken, but He was not. The Father did hear His cry and, as the empty tomb three days later proves, did not forsake Him. The question of Jesus the man was: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The answer from God the Father was: "I haven't! I've not despised, disdained nor forsaken you. I'm here with you, in this moment, carrying you through this death to the glorious resurrection on the other side." That was true for Jesus when he felt forsaken and it's true for you when you feel that way too. But we must remember that God will never leave us nor forsake us in time of feeling abandon (Hebrews 13:5).
Reading Scripture in another version: New English Translation (NET Bible)
46 At about three o'clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Point of Interest: Sacrifice
1). Have you taken time to consider that Jesus was abandoned by the Father so that you might not be? 2). What does this "word" from the cross mean to you?
3). What do Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani means?
4). What book is devoted to dealing with the problem of suffering?
5). What scripture prophecy the saying "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
6). We as born-again believers have what in Christ concerning the suffering of rejection?
7). What do Ephesians 6:11-18 say God has provided for us?
8). What does sin bring into our lives?
9). What is your view on Habakkuk's statement in (Habakkuk 1:13)?
10). Why did Jesus feel He was abandon by His Father?
O Lord Jesus, though I will never fully grasp the wonder and horror of your abandonment by the Father, every time I read this "word," I am overwhelmed with gratitude. How can I ever thank you for what you suffered for me? What can I do but to offer myself to you in gratitude and praise? Thank you, dear Lord, for what you suffered. Thank you for taking my place. Thank you for being forsaken by the Father so that I might never be. In Jesus' Mighty name, Amen.
Reading: Week # 4 (John 10-12)