“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
Forsaken is a strong word. A tragic word. It conjures up images of abandonment. Desertion. Emptiness. We think of a child abandoned by his parents. Or a husband who deserts his wife. Or a friend that forsakes you when you need them the most.
You mean Jesus, the beloved from the bosom of the Father, was now forsaken? The One who shared communion and commonalty with Deity was now abandoned? Heaven’s High Priest, its greatest messenger, He who was the Father’s glory and delight has now been left desolate?
I admit it’s difficult to explain.
Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM. For three hours he hung on the cross in the light of day. But miraculously at noon darkness covered the land. For three more hours Jesus hung there. Suspended between heaven and earth. Rejected by his own. And now abandoned by the Father. He who was “made sin for us” must bear the cross alone. Man would not rescue him. And God could not save him. One writer suggested the sight was too awful for a holy God to look upon and so he turned his face.
It was also a mournful cry of loneliness.
Dr. Charles Stanley observed, “Loneliness is one of the most crushing human emotions. The feelings of abandonment and isolation create an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair. People in the throes of a heightened state of loneliness often fall prey to temptations or behaviors that are extremely atypical. It is a dangerous place to be.”
Judas betrayed. Peter denied. Pilate passed. The disciples dispersed. Jesus was left alone. All alone. Yet, He did not wilt under questioning. Or retaliate at their mocking. He endured the merciless beating. And bore the agony of the cross. But under the canopy of darkness, when the Father’s face looked the other way, the parched lips of Jesus cried out, “My God! My God!” Forsaken! Abandoned! Lonely!
To fulfill David’s prophetic statement? To bring the old law to an end? To accomplish God’s will? To complete the promise to Abraham? Sure, all of these are answers. But the greatest answer lies in this fact. Jesus loves me! Jesus came to experience human emotion. Hurt. Trauma. Temptation. And even the isolation of abandonment and loneliness. His love compelled him to die. For me. And in my place.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained? When I feel lonely? Rejected? Abandoned? YES! He cares. And He knows how I feel.
But remember this. That was Friday. On Sunday Jesus’ isolation ended. His rejection resulted in resurrection. His abandonment became adulation. And his loneliness culminated in heaven’s victory party! And so will ours…on the Sunday of our resurrection!
–Ken Weliever, the Preacherman