Forsaken Matthew 27:45-50

Matthew 27:45-50

Jesus was hung on the cross sometime before noon on Good Friday.  We know that because that’s where verse 45 picks up.  So, the Son of God is already naked, beaten, and suffocating under his own body’s weight on the cross.  As he dies for the sins of his people, the sun was blotted out.

  • We don’t know how:
    • Eclipse?
    • Supernaturally darkened?
    • Either way it’s supernatural because God orders everything, and especially because God did this to show the world that our sin caused the most intense darkness this world would ever see

Then in v. 46 Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity with everything that THAT means, cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Today we’re plunging into the depths of our Savior’s psyche as we consider what he endured on the cross, what led to him crying out that he was foraken?  1.  What Jesus Suffered;  2.  What Jesus being forsaken can’t mean;  3.  How Jesus gave voice to his suffering;  4.  What does this mean for us?

  1. What Jesus suffered—first consider the physical toll of the past 24 hours—he probably hasn’t slept in over a day, he was arrested, beaten, then flogged (a terrible beating with the cat of 9 tails), and crucified
    1. Consider his emotional state:  He’s a person like we are—the physical toll causes an emotional pain
      1. On top of that—Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, him knowing what his death is causing his disciples, his friends, his mother
    1. Spiritually:  not to diminish the other two, because really all three aspects are one—we’re created body and soul together—and Jesus is just like us.  The spiritual suffering of Christ include:
      1. Death is the curse of sin—the sinless Savior became the cursed sinner
      1. This death is the punishment of sin—all of us die because of the curse, but Jesus’ death was the punishment sin deserved.  In that way Jesus’ death was hell on the cross.
      1. And this punishment doesn’t come from an enemy, it comes from God, his Father
        1. That takes a toll on our Lord Jesus, we see that when he cries to God instead of Father on the cross
  2. What being forsaken cannot mean for Jesus
    1. It can’t mean that Jesus was no longer God
      1. God is a Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the three in one, the thrice “Holy, Holy, Holy” of the angels in the throne room
      1. Equal in power, majesty, eternity, and dignity
      1. All consist of the same substance
      1. For God to be God he has to always be God, without any change
      1. There’s mystery here, then, isn’t there?  How can the Son say to God, “why have you forsaken me?”
    1. Consistent with the first point:  It also can’t mean that Jesus is no longer the Son.
      1. God the Father doesn’t disown the Son, because perfect fathers don’t do that, especially when the Son hasn’t done anything wrong.
    1. So, what did Jesus mean when he cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
      1. It’s the only time in the gospels where Jesus didn’t call God “Father”.  That’s significant.
      1. Donald Macleod wrote an excellent book called The Person of Christ.  “in the moment of [abandonment], there is no sense of his own sonship.  Even in Gethsemane, Jesus had been able to say , ‘Abba!’ [Father, but not here].  He is only aware of the god-ness, and holiness, and otherness of God.  In his self-image, he is no longer Son, but Sin;  no longer the Beloved with whom God is well pleased, but the wicked [one] who is cursed by God; [he isn’t the fairest lord Jesus, he] is vile, foul, and repulsive.”[1]
      1. In Jesus’ being, He is still the Son of God, which is to say Jesus is always the second person of the Trinity, but while he endures this punishment, Jesus doesn’t feel it, Jesus isn’t conscious of his divine Sonship in his humanity.
      1. It’s not that the human being Jesus no longer believes in God, in fact, you might say that it’s just the opposite.  Jesus believes too much  if that’s possible.  On the cross, Jesus Christ knows God’s holiness in a way no other sinner ever could.
      1. Moses was given a cleft rock to protect him from God’s holiness; but on the cross the Rock of Ages became sin and was crushed under the weight of God’s holy glory for something he didn’t do.
  3. Jesus gave voice to his suffering, he wasn’t apathetic, no our savior was full of passion
    1. He used Psalm 22
      1. Hanging there on the cross, Jesus relied on inspired scripture to mediate his communication with the Father
      1. There’s no better recommendation than this to give you a reason to know and even memorize scripture.
      1. Jesus had lost the feeling of being connected to God the Father, so when he cried out to God, he used the words God breathed out through David.
    1. He quotes the first line, but the whole Psalm speaks to his experience and speaks to why he feels forsaken.
      1. V. 2 “I cry day by day but you do not answer”—Jesus asked for this cup to pass from him
      1. Vv. 7 and 8 describe Jesus’ being mocked as he was on the cross:  “they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;  he trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him.”
      1. V. 18 “they divide my garments among them and for my clothing they cast lots” just like the soldiers did for Jesus’
    1. Jesus voices his suffering through these words as they reflect his experience, and in Psalm 22 Jesus finds a voice of trust and hope in the midst of his deepest trial.  It’s not that he feels the trust and hope hanging on the cross in the most profound way, otherwise he wouldn’t cry out, “why have you forsaken me?”  No, what we see is that even in the spiritual punishment of the cross Jesus still has trust and hope and uses Psalm 22 to voice it, because he really can’t voice it on his own.  It may only be a seed, but his trust and hope remain.
      1. V. 24 “God has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but he has heard, when he cried to him.”
      1. Jesus expresses faith in God answering prayer, even though in the Son’s prayer was answered with a “no”.
      1. Jesus hopes in God’s mercy to the afflicted even though it is God himself who is afflicting him on the cross
      1. The point is the same point what we’ve heard for a long time—our emotions shouldn’t drive our faith.  Our faith cannot be determined by how we feel.  Or faith has to in the character of God.  Permanent, eternal, steadfast, loyal, good, gracious and loving.
  4. What does this mean for us?
    1. He was forsaken so that we won’t ever be.  And Jesus made this choice for us.
      1. Don’t ever think that Jesus went begrudgingly to the cross.  Don’t think that the Father is the mean unloving God while the Son is the god of love and grace. 
        1. All that Jesus did, why he did it, and what the result of his work was had already been agreed upon in eternity past in the Covenant of Redemption.
        1. The Father agreed to send the son and give him a people, the Son agreed to go and die for them; the Spirit agreed to be their inheritance and apply the work of the Son to the people.
      1. Jesus willingly chose to be forsaken by his Father so that you could enjoy full assurance of God’s favor and loving eye watching over you.
    1. This means comfort, not just comfort in the knowledge that we won’t be punished for our many sins (though that should provide us with a ton of comfort), and not just comfort in knowing God’s favor is always on us because Jesus chose to be forsaken for us.  There is comfort for the Christian in what has been called the “dark night of the soul” in Jesus’ abandonment.
      1. Have you ever felt like the Father abandoned you?  That God doesn’t care about you.  Intellectually, and even with in that part of you where faith is worked, you know it can’t be true, you know God doesn’t abandon his people. But still that’s how you felt? You have endured God’s harsh providence and with Job you determine you’d be better off if God would look away from you, that you’d be better off if God forgot you existed.
      1. Maybe you haven’t felt like that, praise God for it.  I’m sure you’ve felt something along those lines, though. I think we all have.
      1. Jesus descends into that very place and he shouts at the Father:  “why have you forsaken me?” gives us comfort because we know our Lord felt that way, but even better, He didn’t stay there and neither will any of God’s children that the Heavenly Father sent the Son to die for.
      1. We also see an example to follow when we experience our own “dark nights”.
        1. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God according to how you feel in the moment.
        1. Rely on the Bible as much as you can to help you find a voice for your feelings.
        1. Remember crying out to God is an expression of faith and even hope—Matthew 27:50 doesn’t record Jesus’ last words, it just says “he cried out again with a loud voice”, but in Luke 23:46 we find hear Jesus’ last words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.  Jesus shows us that after we’ve cried out to God in our desperation, and after we used the Bible’s words to frame our cry, we should finally look for God’s fatherly embrace for true comfort that awaits us no matter what the dark night all around us looks like.  Amen.

#1 Behold the Lamb

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

The apostles’ Creed

103 Holy God, we praise your name

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

[1] McLeod, The Person of Christ, 176.  Adapted for preaching.