This was the 4th word of Christ. Delivered April 6,2012 at Jarrettown’s Good Friday Service
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
After Jesus saw his mother, and spoke his third word, it is written that darkness filled the sky. From twelve until three, darkness descended on the whole land. It wasn’t a sunset or and eclipse. First there was sun; then there wasn’t.
I can’t help but wonder, those who weren’t present at the crucifixion thought as they worked in their fields or washed their clothes in the river? What did they say and do as they ate their mid-day meal in the dark? The Bible doesn’t say the day turned to night—with familiar stars that might provide people with some comfort. Not night. Darkness.
For three hours.
Then, as abruptly as the darkness descended, the sun reappeared and Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ” Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? “ [Eh-lo-eye, Eh-lo-eye, lama sub-ACHT-en-eye.]
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This saying is traditionally called “The Word of Abandonment” and is the only one of Jesus’s final statements that appears in more than one Gospel.Not only does it appear in Matthew, it is also found in Mark 15:34. It is the opening line of Psalm 22, a psalm about persecution, the mercy and salvation of God.
I find it interesting that these are the first words Jesus makes which refer to himself rather than others. He’s asked his Father for forgiveness for others, told a thief of his salvation, and guaranteed a safe future for his mother. Then darkness covers the land and Jesus cries out to his Father—“Where are you? Why have you left me?”
Jesus is facing death by himself. He sounds so…alone. So… human.
I’ve always felt that the darkness was the moment all our sins were placed on Jesus. He took on his Apostles’ sins. He took on Pilate’s sins. He took on Judas’ sins. He took on the thieves’ sins. Through time and space, he took on my sin and your sin. For three long hours, he took on all sins from all people, from all time.
And it appears that it severed Jesus’ intimate relationship with God.
Jesus, though he walked on earth, walked with God. He prayed to God; he worshiped God; he served God. Jesus told the Jewish leaders in John 5:19, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” He goes on to say, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself, but him who sent me.”
And now, as he takes on our sin, he cries out in his abandonment.
What about those who weren’t present at the crucifixion? The men working in their fields—the women washing clothes or cleaning up after the meal? They had no idea what Jesus was doing for them at that moment.
And today, though we have grocery stores to provide us with food and appliances to clean our clothes and our dishes—are we really so different from them? Can we truly claim that we understand what Jesus was doing for us?
One of Jesus’ final acts as he took on all our sin, was to demonstrate how sin separates us from God.
Just as Jesus felt alone from God as he bore the weight of all sin, we too are missing an intimate relationship with God when we are in the midst of sin.
When we feel lost and alone—separate from God, it is sin that is the wall.
But we can rejoice. Because Jesus took on our sin, that wall doesn’t have to keep us from having a personal relationship with God.
Jesus suffered—He felt alone and abandoned. He felt human. But He died and rose again so that we might know the Father and be with him in paradise.