The Goodness Being God Forsakenness
- April 24, 2019
- Chris Lawson
Mark 15:33–34, “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?’”
It is noon, and Jesus has been on the cross for three pain-filled hours. Suddenly, darkness falls on Calvary and “over all the land” (v. 45). By a miraculous act of Almighty God, midday becomes midnight.
This supernatural darkness, a symbol of God’s judgment on sin, swallows up the day.
The physical darkness signals a deeper and more fearsome darkness.
The great High Priest enters Golgotha’s Holy of Holies without friends or enemies. The Son of God is alone on the cross for three final hours, enduring what defies our imagination.
Continually near suffocation. The feeling of being held under water, lungs exasperated, only to be released to fresh air at the very instant before death wins.
The rawness of his exposed back. The weakness of his arms. Buckling of his knees. The burning of his eyes as his pierced forehead leaked in sight.
Experiencing the full weight of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
This phrase represents the valley, the lowest point, of Jesus’ sufferings. Here Jesus descends into the cradle of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. For, it is unmerited suffering. Suffering earned by someone else’s disobedience, but placed on Jesus.
Jesus’ cry does not in any way diminish His deity. Jesus does not cease being God before, during, or after this.
Jesus’ cry does not divide His human nature from His divine person or destroy the Trinity. Nor does it detach Him from the Holy Spirit. The Son lacks the comforts of the Spirit, but He does not lose the holiness of the Spirit. The suffering does not cause Him to disavow His mission.
Both the Father and Son knew from all eternity that Jesus would become the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Acts 15:18). It is unthinkable that the Son of God might question what is happening or be perplexed when His Father’s loving presence departs.
So, if not that, what?
Jesus is expressing the agony of an unanswered prayer (Ps. 22:1–2).
Unanswered, Jesus feels forgotten, unheard, ignored by God. And, he enters even more deeply into our humanity. He is also expressing the agony of loneliness.
Jesus lets out the sound of a roaring lion mentioned in Psalm 22: the roar of desperate agony without rebellion. He isn’t rejecting the pain. The rejection. The loneliness.
But by shouting the words of King David, he enters more deeply, more fully, into the words we have all said.
It is heart-piercing, heaven-piercing, and it will become hell-piercing.
Jesus is expressing the agony of collected sin.
All the sins of the of those who would ever believe, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him.
And Jesus is expressing the agony of that weight. In His hour of greatest need comes a pain unlike anything the Son has ever experienced: His Father’s absence.
When Jesus most needs encouragement, there is no dove of affirmation or voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son.”
No angel is sent to minster Him; no “well done, thou good and faithful servant” to balm his wounds.
The women who supported Him are silent.
The disciples, those cowardly liars, have fled.
Feeling disowned by all, Jesus endures the way of suffering alone, deserted, and forsaken in utter darkness. God had turned out the lights and turned His back.
Isaiah had predicted it, but I still wonder, why would God bruise His own Son?
Is God callous, abusive?
What Good Friday teaches is that real purpose, the deeper magic is penal; it is the just punishment for the sin of Jesus’ people. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus was made sin for us. Among all the deep mysteries of salvation, this little word “for” exceeds all.
This small word illuminates our darkness and unites Jesus with sinners. Jesus was acting FOR His people and FOR our benefit.
Jesus is our substitute; God’s wrath is satisfied and God can justify those who believe in Jesus.
Jesus’ suffering is vicarious — He suffered on our behalf.
He wasn’t sharing in our God’s forsakenness – he was saving us from it. Jesus suffering wasn’t with us – It was FOR us.
You are immune to condemnation and to God’s wrath because Christ bore it for you in that outer darkness. Golgotha secured our immunity, not mere sympathy.
This explains the hours of darkness and the roar of a lion. The Lion of Judah was proclaiming his victory over Friday so we could call it good.