HAVE YOU WONDERED: ’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Today, I would like to focus on the forth statement Jesus said while hanging on the cross dying for our sins.
“At the sixth hour, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at 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?” (Mark 15:33)
Jesus is now into the final three hours on the cross, and we read that darkness has come over the whole land. When Jesus was born there was brightness at midnight, now as he is dying there is darkness at noon. Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Amos wrote about this day. “In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.” (Amos 8:9)
Darkness in the Bible is a symbol of evil, sin and judgment. You may remember that the ninth plague that God sent on the land of Egypt just before the killing of the Passover lambs was darkness. Now, here is our Passover Lamb being sacrificed and judged for our sin and God does the same thing. He spreads darkness over the land as Jesus, the Light of the World, slowly gives up his life. Then, suddenly, piercing through the ominous darkness, Jesus shouted in the Aramaic language, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33)
His friends had abandoned him. The crowd turned against him. It even seemed nature itself was turning against him with this eerie darkness. Now, even God the Father had forsaken him. How could this be?
Imagine that you are the parent of several children. One of your children contracts a fatal disease that is highly contagious. The doctor tells you, “there is absolutely nothing we can do. By no means can you come into contact with your child because of the disease that he is carrying. If you want to save your family, you must quarantine that child and you must not, at any cost, open the door or you will risk exposure to all of your children.” So, you close the door.
Behind the wall you hear your child cry out in a loud voice, “Mother, Father, why aren’t you here with me?” Of course, you desperately want to go in and be with the child you love. However, in order to save the others and simply because you can’t be near someone with that disease, you don’t go in.
When Jesus said these words, the disease of our repulsive sins was on him and God could not be near him. God could have saved Jesus that day from all of the pain and agony. Or … he could have saved you. But, he could not do both. So, he chose you.
In other words, God turned his back on his son, so that he would never have to turn his back on you. God departed from him, so that he would never have to depart from you. Jesus was banished from God, so that you could be in the presence of God.
Jesus screamed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” so that you would never have to.
Russ Whitten is a local minister, writer and musician. His band, The Bonhoeffers, play every Friday and Saturday night at Jackacudas. His book Have You Ever Wondered? is available on Amazon.com.