Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Mark 15:33-41

Scripture Reading Genesis 22:1-14 The Law

Mount Moriah – later, the site of the Temple in Jerusalem

“Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

Jehovah-Jireh – God will provide [a substitute sacrifice]

Scripture Reading Psalm 22:1,6-8,12-18 The Writings

a Psalm of David

“This is beyond all others The Psalm of the Cross.” Treasury of David

poetic anticipation of the Savior’s suffering

v1 Jesus’ cry
v6 Reproach v7 Mockery v8 Taunt v12-13 Animosity ==> directed toward Jesus
v14 Faintness v15 Exhaustion v16 Piercing v17 Emaciation, Insulting Gaze v18 Dividing up Belongings ==> experienced by Jesus

Scripture Reading Isaiah 52:14-53:10 The Prophets

horrifying to look at – disfigured beyond recognition by Roman soldiers

bowed by the burden of man’s sin and iniquity

stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded, crushed, chastised, oppressed by God

Scripture Reading Mark 15:33-41 The Gospel

Sermon

Father, give us eyes to see the horror of the Cross, ears to hear the truth of how our sin made the Cross necessary, minds and hearts prepared to receive the glorious mercy found at the Cross for those who believe.

Focus of attention on the wrenching cry of Christ from the cross –“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” What did it mean that Jesus was forsaken, for what purpose was he forsaken, and what difference should it make to us?

A. What did it mean

We must remember – we stand on the shoulders of generations who have labored to answer that and similar questions. Onlookers that first Good Friday had a much different perspective:

Ray Boltz, Watch the Lamb

Daddy, Daddy, what have we seen here,
There’s so much that we don’t understand.

When the “cry of dereliction” burst from Jesus’ lips – an expression of anguish of soul as he drank the cup of his Father’s wrath for sin unmixed with favor or love. “This is my Beloved Son” but a distant memory; love and intimacy experienced in eternity past and even during years of incarnation fully withdrawn from him. The Son felt completely abandoned by his Father’s loving care, given over to his Father’s wrathful punishment.

Remember the words of Isaiah, resounding in our ears like the blows of the hammer, driving the nails through feet and hands into unforgiving wood – stricken, smitten, af flicted, wounded, crushed, chastised, oppressed… by God. Yes, it was the Father who was actively punishing – striking, smiting, …etc. – the Son on the Cross. His greatest suffering came from the hands of his Father, not the Roman soldiers or his bloodthirsty countrymen.

This does not mean that: the God-man stopped being God, the Father’s love turned to hatred, that God left the Man Jesus to his own devices, to bear the brunt of sin’s awful punishment. Had the Father removed his divine support from the Son on the Cross, the Son would have been destroyed by his punishment. The Father was still present, he still loved his Son; yet the punishment measured out on Jesus so overwhelmed and overshadowed the Father’s grace and love that the Son felt abandoned.

B. For what purpose

Jesus was forsaken by his Father in order that he might experience the full penalty for the sin he bore, in so doing completely satisfy his Father’s requirement for justice, and bring us safely home to God. Real guilt transferred to a real substitute who suffered a real penalty to accomplish real reconciliation for real people to a real God.

There was a meeting together of all the sins of the faithful, from Adam to the last man that shall be in the world, as it were, in one point upon him, and the punishment of all these was laid on his blessed shoulders, who suffered for them in both body and soul. Richard Sibbes

The words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes 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.” Isaiah 53:6

For the atonement to be a source of hope for us, our Substitute must have made full satisfaction on behalf of those for whom he died. For the Substitute to make full satisfaction, he must have experienced and paid the full penalty in the stead of his people. The full penalty is an eternity of death and suffering – think hell – an infinite penalty because an infinite God was offended, sinned against. Our Savior experienced that full penalty, an eternity’s worth of intensity compressed into 3 hours of physical and spiritual darkness on Calvary’s cross.

The goal of Jesus’ sacrificial death is full redemption and reconciliation to God of those who believe in him; nothing short of that would satisfy the soul of our great Savior.

Again the words of Isaiah:

He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11

If an atonement has been made by one who was actually substituted in the place of the guilty; who, as so substituted, paid the penalty and rendered full satisfaction to the law, so that the law has no longer any claims; then there has been undoubtedly an actual reconciliation. Peace has been made by the cross between God and man.James Boyce, Abstract

C. what difference does it make

Contemplating the cross of Christ should change how we think about sin, our obligation to Christ, and the greatness of God’s mercy.

But if you would indeed see the most ugly colours of sin, then see it in Christ upon the cross, see how many sighs and groans it cost him, how bitter a thing it was to his righteous soul, forcing him to weep tears of blood, and send forth strong cries to his Father, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Richard Sibbes

Our sin cost Christ a life of sorrow, being made the object of his Father’s wrath, a horrific death. To minimize our sin denigrates and devalues the sufferings of our Savior in our place.

Recognizing what took place at the Cross informs us of how great our obligation is to Christ: he lacked nothing in his suffering which would contribute to paying the penalty for sin. He exchanged his heaven for a kind of hell to do you good. What he experienced on our behalf defines the measure of our debt to him, one we can never repay but for which we can be eternally thankful.

In fact, this is one of our greatest comforts:

Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

Answer 1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him. Heidelberg Catechism

Here at the cross we see where justice and mercy meet, where in his infinite mercy God gave to another what we deserve and in his infinite grace gives to us what another merited. That is the greatest demonstration of love known to mankind, displayed in God’s masterpiece of redemption where his love, mercy and grace are glorified.

John 3:16 God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son

Romans 5:8 God shows his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us

1 John 4:19-10 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The greatest demonstration of love the world has known required the greatest sacrifice of all – the life of the perfect Son of God given on behalf of sinners. Where better to see the “width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:18-19

Bibliography

Flavel Vol. 1, p.414ff

Manton Vol. 2, p.288ff, esp. p.298 #2-4

Sibbes Vol. 1, p.497ff

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