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John Kespert
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Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

Published on 3/25/2016
For additional information  Click Here

Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "Behold, he is calling Elijah." And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"   (Mar 15:24-39) ESV

     Jesus, after hours of being nailed to a cross, cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” These troublesome words were not spoken in barely audible voice that might be expected from a man struggling to breath after hours of being nailed to a cross. He spoke loud and clear. There was no mistaking what Jesus said. Were they words of despair due to the pain of crucifixion?

     Indeed, being nailed to a cross is a wretched form of execution, designed both to punish those convicted of crimes, and also to serve as a dire warning to anyone else of what was in store for them if they went against the dictates of the rulers. And in the case of Jesus, there are many today who speak passionately about the physical torture that Jesus had endured while on that cross.

     But it should be noted that there many others before and after His execution who were killed in the same way, including many Christians who actually counted it a privilege both to die for their faith in Jesus, and to die in the same way that He was put death. However there was something about the death of Jesus that was very different from any other death. And Jesus knew what it would be well before the first nails were hammered into his hands and feet.

     The previous night, when Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane as He prayed to His Father that if possible that the cup might pass from Him, I believe he was not primarily concerned about the physical pain he would endure during the crucifixion. His agony on the cross would far exceed that of the nails and the mocking. What Jesus suffered on the cross was more than any of us can fully comprehend.

     God is holy. Do you have any idea what that means? Who He is and what He does is always altogether righteous. No sin. No ulterior motives. Always doing the right thing in the right way with the right attitude. Totally pure. Abhorring sin and evil.

     God is also Just. Justice requires that sin must be condemned and punished. As limited in our understanding as we are, we generally recognize that is true. However we tend to think of our own sins as “acceptable infractions”, but those of other people, especially those sins done by really bad people, as deserving serious punishment.

     What do suppose are the greatest sins? Murder? Rape? Child molestation? Being a traitor to you country? Or maybe you have a few things you personally feel are really detestable and should be included in the list of the worst sins. But what about breaking the greatest commandments of God?

     Do you know what the greatest commandment of God is? Love God with your whole heart, soul and mind. And the second greatest is love your neighbor as yourself. I dare say that none of us keep those commandments fully. So, as it turns out, we break the greatest commandments of God every day.

     Justice does not wink at crimes committed again and again. Such justice is no justice at all. So how could a holy God be just without eternally condemning all of us? After all, we are all flagrantly guilty of breaking His commandments, sinning against Him willingly and habitually.

     We are all due to suffer God's wrath. None of us is sinless.

     But Jesus, the Son of God, came in the flesh, born of a woman, with a flesh and bone body, a real baby, who grew to be a real man. But unlike any other man who came before him, Jesus kept every commandment of God perfectly. Even with the right attitudes. He always did what pleased the Father...including going to the cross.

     Going to the cross meant much than physical suffering. On the cross, Jesus, the Son of Man, came before his Father in Heaven to bear His just wrath that was due to us for our having sinned against Him. Even the creation bore evidence of what was taking place, when darkness covered the whole land from the sixth until the ninth hour, which when is when he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

     God treated Jesus just as if he had sinned the actual sins we have committed again and again.

     Those agonizing words were not uttered without purpose. Some of those in the crowd may have recognized them as being the very opening words of Psalm 22. Take the time to read it from start to finish and be sure to and see that its closing verses are these:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.  (Psa 22:14-18) ESV

     Perhaps those words gave a tiny bit of comfort to the two who were present who loved Him, his mother, Mary, and His disciple, John, recognizing that God long before had known this would take place, and was even a necessary part of His purposes. And perhaps those words caused a few others to start questioning what they given their approval to. At some point they may even have recalled another passage of Scripture from the Book of Isaiah.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. …. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:5-12) ESV

     God's justice and mercy had been taught previously in Scripture by requiring that a spotless animal be sacrificed whenever sins were committed against God. But the blood of animals only served to teach people to revere and obey God, and did not actually take away sins (Hebrews 10:4)

     However Jesus really did live a totally sinless life as a man, and therefore was the only one who could be an acceptable sacrificial payment for sins. If He hadn't become a real flesh and blood man he couldn't be a true substitute for us. And only Jesus could have endured the wrath of God that was due to us.

     When, by God's grace, you accept and believe that Jesus took the judgment for our sins, then God sees our sins on Him, when He forsook Jesus during those dreadfully dark hours on the cross. And then when He looks at us...He sees the righteousness of Jesus...and therefore on that basis we become acceptable to be in His presence eternally. Those of us who know this now seek to tell others about it. Or, as Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:20-21) ESV


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