This week as we meditate on Jesus’ seven sayings from the cross, we come today to his fourth word, possibly the deepest and most mysterious, THE WORD OF ABANDONMENT.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 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?” Matthew 27:45-46
What was happening here? God had transferred all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Jesus on to him and was now pouring out his divine retribution – his furious, holy and perfect wrath – upon his Son.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
God “made him to be sin” – Jesus so completely identified with our sins that the Bible says he was made to be sin. Of course, Jesus did not actually become sin, but was so took our sins upon himself, that the Father poured out the fullness of his wrath and fury against Jesus as if he had personally committed all of our sins.
Hell is the place of God’s wrath. No one there has any sense of fellowship with God. No one in hell has any awareness of God’s mercy or love. In hell there is only utter hopelessness and darkness. That’s what Jesus was experiencing when he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
At noon a deep darkness engulfed the land as Jesus hung there alone between heaven and earth.
Darkness is a sign of judgment. One of God’s judgments on Egypt’s sin was to immerse the land in total darkness. The day of the Lord, or the day of God’s wrath, is described by Zephaniah as a day of darkness:
A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, Zephaniah 1:15
The darkness that engulfed the land as Jesus hung on the cross was the darkness of God’s judgment on his innocent, sinless Son.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
“The very word ‘forsaken’ is one of the most tragic in all human speech… What calamities are conjured up by this word – a man forsaken of his friends, a wife forsaken by her husband, a child forsaken by its parents! But a creature forsaken by it’s Creator, a man forsaken of God –– O this is the most frightful of all. This is the evil of all evils.” – A W Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross
Jesus became our substitute. He was cursed so that we would never be. He was forsaken by God so that when we come to Jesus, we will never be forsaken.
Do you feel abandoned? Alone? Jesus was forsaken in your place. You will never be forsaken. Jesus promised he would never leave nor forsake his children. No one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand. And Jesus will keep you until he takes you home to heaven. When Jesus hung in darkness, he had no sense of his Father’s nearness. But when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus our shepherd will be with us. When we pass through the waters, he will be with us. When we go through the fire he will be in the furnace with us, like he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you were forsaken so that we will be with you forever.