We’re going through the seven statements Jesus made from the cross. Several weeks ago now we looked at the first statement. (See previous post, The 7 Statements of Jesus from the Cross: Statement 1) Last week we discussed the second statement made by Jesus: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (See previous post, The 7 Statements of Jesus from the Cross: Statement 2)
The day before Mother’s Day we looked at the third statement. (See previous post, Jesus’ Mother’s Day)
So today we’ll look at number four.
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
This statement made by Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy in a most obvious way. They’re the very words that begin Psalm 22, written one thousand years or so earlier. And by saying what he said, Jesus points us to the Psalm in its entirety. Here are some select verses from Psalm 22.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? “
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
I am poured out like water . . .
. . . they have pierced my hands and feet.
. . . they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
This prophecy amazes me. Anyone can see who is being talked about in Psalm 22. The mocking, the wagging of heads, the words: “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him . . .”
I am poured out like water the psalmist declared of him. And then water pours out from Jesus when he’s pierced in the side with a spear.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
They divide my garments among them.
They cast lots for my clothing.
Finally, in the end, the author of Psalm 22 declares that all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord. All nations will worship him. It shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation. And to a people unborn he will be proclaimed.
This is so obviously Jesus.
God’s word says there was darkness over all the land and surely it was the darkest time ever for Jesus. Every other time Jesus prayed, he called his Father, “Father.” But this one time, this one time when Jesus is bearing the sins of the whole world, the sins of the whole entire world, the sins of the whole entire world yet to come, born by one person, Jesus cries out to the One he was connected with, but has been disconnected with because of our sin, Jesus this one time, this only time, he cries out to “God” instead of “Father” because the intimacy between them is wrecked in this moment.
This fourth statement from the cross made by Jesus is disturbing to me. “Why,” I ask God, “did it have to be that way?” “Why did you have to turn Your back on Your own Son, Your only begotten Son? I don’t understand.”
I’ve struggled with this question. And here’s where I wound up.
God has a problem.
God is perfect. And God’s justice is perfect. (Unlike the injustice we’ve seen in the news recently.) And God’s love is perfect. So what is He to do then? How can God reconcile His perfect justice with His perfect love? Here we have a seemingly impossible dilemma because one thing is certain: you sin against God, and so do I, and so does every living human being on the planet. Just a glance at Matthew chapter five confirms it. (Matthew 5:21-48) Yet when you look at the life of God in the flesh, when you look at the life of Jesus Christ, it’s impossible not to see how God loves us, in spite of our sin.
So what is God to do then, with His perfect justice and His perfect love? God reconciles His perfect justice with His perfect love by reconciling you to Himself. And the way He did that was to provide His own Son as a sacrifice, to pay the price for your sins against Him, and to pay the price for my sins against Him.
And the only way that could happen was if Jesus died on the cross, on your behalf.
God loves you so much, God’s desire to reconcile with you runs so deep, He was willing to sever Himself from His Son, He was willing to allow His own Son to dwell in that darkness, bearing the weight of the sins of the whole world: alone.
That’s how much God loves you.
That’s how badly God wants to spend eternity, with you.
Jesus was forsaken so we would not be. Jesus was forsaken so God could say of us:
“I will never forsake you.”