Last Sunday we started our Easter series in Psalm 22 which is known as “The Psalm of the Cross”. Psalm 22 is without question one of the most remarkable portions of the entire Old Testament. It is one of the clearest cases of predictive prophecy that was fulfilled through the death and suffering of Jesus Christ. Someone has suggested that this prediction of the cross is so exact that it makes you think that it was written by someone standing at the foot of the cross. However, the Psalm is not written from the viewpoint of an observer but the viewpoint of the sufferer. This Psalm graphically describes what the man on the cross was experiencing during those horrifying hours of suffering. The song was written by David a thousand years before the events recorded. Though David penned the Psalm, the events recorded did not occur in his life, but much later on in the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded in all four of the Gospels.
The opening verse of the Psalm reads – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (v.1 NIV). This verse was quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on Calvary’s cross in Matthew 27:46. This mysterious and awful “why” of Jesus’ experience of desertion by God must be considered. The answer to this question sheds a great deal of light on the very purpose for which the Son of God came into this world. The simple and obvious reason was that Jesus Christ was taking our place on that cross. Jesus had been made sin for those whom the Father had given Him before the foundation of the world, and on the cross, Jesus was bearing our penalty. There was no thundering voice resounding from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I’m well pleased”. Paul concisely explains the answer to the question in 2 Corinthians 5 when he writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” (v.21 NIV). When Jesus became evil on our behalf, the Father abandoned Him in judgment and would not deliver Him from His agony. No mortal can fully understand what it must’ve been like for the eternal Son of God to be separated from the eternal Father during those dark hours on the cross. There was never a time in world history when there was more spiritual darkness in the world than when the wrath of God was poured out on the Son of God. God even covered the land with darkness during that awful time. The darkness that covered the land found in Matthew 27:24 indicates that a crime had been committed, as the Son of God hangs naked on the cross in shame and humiliation. Jesus experienced in all its horror the separation from God that sin creates. All of nature itself covered that time with this supernatural darkness. This darkness should have alarmed all as to the momentous events that were taking place that Passover afternoon.
Jesus was forsaken by God because He was made sin for us. Paul once again emphasizes this point when he writes- “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”, (Gal.3:13 NIV). Someone has written regarding our ability to understand the depths of Christ’s suffering at Calvary – “there the Lord Jesus Christ bore in His own person an eternity of the wrath of God, He being infinite, suffered in a finite moment in time what we, being finite, would have suffered in an infinite amount of time. Eternity was compressed upon Him and through His sufferings He might offer to us, not an eternity of suffering, but an eternity of joy and everlasting life”.
During this darkest hour, the Lord Jesus Christ felt so utterly forsaken. But He was forsaken that we might never be forsaken. God forsakes for only one reason and that is sin. God hates sin and His Son was separated from the heavenly Father, not for His sins but for our sins. That being achieved none of us today need to be separated from God, but we must accept with gratitude the gift that the Almighty God has provided on our behalf. It cost God His Son on a cruel cross to reconcile sinners to Himself but that is exactly what Jesus Christ has done. If you are a child of God and the follower of Jesus Christ today give thanks to God for His most generous gift of eternal life found in Jesus Christ. If you’ve never trusted Christ let me encourage you to consider the price (even being forsaken) that Jesus paid so that you too may have eternal life.
All praise to our great Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo