Status: Forsaken. A word of presence (Matthew 27:46)

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Have you ever felt alone?

  • My wife and I live in a house with 5 kids so there’s few times we feel alone, but my wife will pray multiple times a day for a few moments of feeling alone! God bless moms!
  • For me, my personality drives more toward being around people than contemplative isolation. So, when I am alone for long periods of time – or if I feel alone – then it becomes a big weight in my mind.
    • One of those times was when I went away to college at CN (I’ve shared this before). I left MD to attend college 8 hours away in TN. I started in the Spring semester, which was the middle of the year and made it challenging to enter groups & cliques already made. Further, my dorm room was solo w/o a roommate. I was the last room at the end of the hall, facing the back end of campus. All my hallmates were football players who 1) big 2) hardly around bc they spent most of their time on practice field & weight room, and then games on weekend – and sleeping in Sun AM; yep, just bc you attend a Christian school doesn’t mean everyone is a follower of Jesus. So, God used 5+ months to humble me, to teach me about myself, having empathy for others, and to grow in faith.
  • I imagine many of you have felt lonely.
    • Singles who long for a mate.
    • Spouses in a selfish marriage drained of affection and compassion.
    • Teens who struggle to fit in or live up to life’s expectations.
    • Guests at church who are uncertain if they can relate to people or attendees who feel distanced from the community. This is an area we can never become comfortable and continue to grow to see the new-ish and the uninvolved
  • Loneliness is a frequent and far-reaching feeling for many people.
    • It’s become a significant local and national topic of discussion.
      • Overall, suicide is 10th leading cause of death. If you’re below age of 35 then suicide is 2nd leading cause of death; or ages 35-54 it’s the 5th leading cause of death / and white males account for 78% of suicides; and frightening trend shows 2x more suicides than homicides.[1]
      • This is one of the issues SPBC can and should address through
        • 1) Church family culture
        • 2) Counseling & Mental Health resources
        • 3) Going upstream with young people.[2]

 

Today’s message I want to share how Jesus’s experience with loneliness relates to us.

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EXAMINE           Matthew 27:45-47    Status: Forsaken. A word of presence.

  • “sixth hour until ninth hour” = starting from 6AM, the sixth hour would be Noon; so 12pm – 3pm.[3]
  • “darkness over the land” = a supernaturally timed action of God; God was in control to send darkness.
    • Darkness is a concept we learn as a child. We don’t have to teach children to be afraid of the dark, they just are. Darkness disorients and makes you feel unprotected and alone.
    • Darkness symbolizes God’s displeasure, judgment, and death.
    • Some of you may be experiencing a darkness beyond description. Today, God wants you to know there is life beyond the darkness, just as there was for Jesus.

 

If the Gospel narrative ended here, we would assume God was exacting revenge on all the people who mocked and murdered Jesus. However, the Gospel narrative continues with cries from Jesus, showing us judgment does not fall upon evil sinners but upon the perfect Son of God.

 

Jesus was abandoned by God, so we never have to be alone. 

While on the cross, Jesus cries (ἀναβοάω – ana = up high, intensity / baio = shout tumultuously – – perhaps screaming repeatedly with a hoarse voice) out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Before this moment, Jesus always is full of God’s presence and feels protected and provided for from His Father. Yet, on the cross, Jesus feels forsaken.

 

Jesus was forsaken by the faithful.

Before the cross we saw Jesus was abandoned by His disciples.

  • “He came to his own and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
  • Jesus said, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter told him, ‘Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away.’ Jesus said, ‘I assure you, ‘tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” (Matt 26:31-34)

 

– – – When someone is suffering, they need others to stand with them. Thankfully Jesus had John, His mother and three other women. Who is standing with you? Who are you standing with in suffering?
– – – Open Bible = open heart. If you can read the Bible with a closed heart to people who are suffering and in need of Jesus, then you are in great danger of distorting the gospel and creating god in your own image.

 

Jesus was forsaken by the Father. 

At Jesus’s baptism, he heard the affirmation of the Father but on the cross he felt the abandonment of the Father. The greatest pain Jesus endured went beyond whips and being nailed to wooden beams. As awful as asphyxiation is, the worst aspect of the crucifixion was Jesus experiencing the separation from God the Father. We see this when Jesus prays for the first time not addressing God as His Father.

  • Habakkuk 1:13 “Your eyes are too pure to behold evil, and you cannot look on wrongdoing”
  • 2Corinthians 5:21 “him who knew no sin, he [God the Father] was made sin for us”
  • Galatians 3:13 Christ became “a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’”

 

  • Yet, we can be confident through faith in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, we will never be separated from God.
  • Romans 8 39 “nothing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus”
  • Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  • 2Timothy 1:12 “I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”
  • Hebrews 13:5 “God has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”

 

  • What do we learn from Jesus?
  • It’s ok to voice our feelings to God.
    When we are enduring sadness and suffering, we want to know God cares and is in control. It’s why we ask “why?” And Jesus gives us the pattern for voicing frustration by starting with the who before the why; My God before Why God. Jesus wasn’t crying out against God but was instead crying out to He wasn’t despairing faith but declaring faith.

Expressing discouragements and doubts to God does not make you any less a person of faith. In fact, when we express our most personal problems and pains to God, we are most identifying with people of faith. The lips of Jesus reflect past people of faith by quoting from the Psalms. The book of Psalms is filled with people pouring their heart out to the Lord in life’s most personal circumstances. And as they pray to God in pain, they are also compelled to remember the promises of God’s faithfulness.
Psalm 22

  • ~ 1000 years before the cross event.
  • Starts with feeling God-forsaken and ends with “it is finished.”[4]
  • 1-4 set the tone of trusting God in the darkest trials
    “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? My God, I cry by day but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest. But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You, and You rescued them. They cried to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disgraced.”
  • 29-31 show hope beyond death through God’s power
    “All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down; all those who go down to the dust will kneel before Him – even the one who cannot preserve his life. Their descendants will serve Him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness – what He has done.”
  • Entire psalm reflects both the darkness of the cross and the glory of God to rescue.
    • 1 are quoted by Jesus on cross (Mt 27:46)
    • 6-8 prophecies about despising, mocking and wagging heads at Jesus, eve the very words “let him rescue himself” (Mt 27:39, 43).
    • 6 “I am a worm”
      • Like a fisherman hides his hook for the fish to bite, so God hid divinity within humanity through Christ for satan to bite and death be swallowed up in the victory of God’s resurrection.[5]
      • tôlāʿ = scarlet, or crimson worm (contrast rimnah for reg worm because in ancient Israel there was a worm [coccus ilicis] they used to make crimson dye. When the female worm had babies, she would attach herself to a wooden post or tree and make a hard crimson shell. The crimson worm would be permanently stuck to the wood and only come off by tearing her body. The crimson worm attaches itself to the tree to birth a family. She lays her eggs under her protective shell and then her living body becomes food for the babies. After the worms grow to care for themselves, the mother dies, and she oozes a crimson/scarlet fluid, which dyes and forever stains the wood she was attached – and also forever stains her babies; thus the tôlāʿ /crimson worm. That scarlet dye was used in Israel to stain garments. Further, after three days, the dead mother crimson worm’s body loses its scarlet color and turns into a white wax, which falls to the ground like snow.
        • Isa 1:18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.”
      • 9-10 are prophecies about the birth of Christ.
      • 18 prophecy’s dividing the garments and casting lots for clothing of Jesus (Mt 27:35)
      • 31 is prophetic hint of the finished work of Jesus on the cross (Jn 19:30).
      • 22-29 is prophetic hint of God raising Jesus from suffering death to exalted kingship over all nations in the great congregation of descendant saints.

Ultimately, in Psalm 22 and the cross event, we see a theology of substitution.

 

Substitution: Jesus takes our place.

Isaiah 53:4-6 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds 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.

 

  • God loves you to death.
  • Sin is paid, therefore, God is not just putting up with you – He is persevering alongside you.

 

Substitution: We take the place of Jesus.

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.”

 

  • God loves you to live for Him.
    Jesus obeyed God and the outcome was death; this level of obedience radically applies to us in dying to self and living for Jesus – even in suffering.
  • Some of you have tried everything else, but you haven’t truly tried Jesus. You’ve tried religion/church/ministry/helping others… but you haven’t tried Jesus. Today come to the cross.

 

APPLY/THINK
In closing,

We cannot choose our facts, but we can choose our focus. Like Jesus chose to focus on God at the cross, so we must focus on Christ (Heb 12:1-3). Focusing on the right things requires discernment from God, discussion with others, and dedication to stay faithful.

When we face our facts in light of our faith, we realize God’s faithfulness. God was faithful, God is faithful, and God will always be faithful. God’s forsaking Jesus was not the end of the story. God raised Jesus to life and seated Him on the throne right beside Him. And the Spirit of God has been sent by Jesus so we never have to feel what Jesus felt on the cross. He is with us and not forsaken us.

 

[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml / https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ / https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/06/07/u-s-suicide-rates-rise-sharply-across-the-country-new-report-shows/?utm_term=.3123bbd00bde

[2] https://www.rootedministry.com/blog/gospel-inclusion-for-isolated-teens/

[3] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/you-asked-what-time-did-jesus-die/ / https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/good-friday-in-real-time/

[4] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of the Psalms, Psalm 22:1.

[5] Ibid. Psalm 22:6.

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