Matthew 27 v 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Bible readings Psalm 22 & Matthew 27 v 35-54

We come to this 4th statement from the cross of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ which was uttered in condition of extreme agony at the end of a period of profound darkness lasting for 3 hours. Who can imagine this terrible pain which Jesus suffered for that period on the cross? It truly was a most barbaric method of execution, devised by wicked men with depraved hearts. And yet how accurately all of the prophecies about the nature of the death of Christ are fulfilled in this one act. He was lifted up on the cross as Moses lifted up the serpent (John 3 v 14). The serpent was an object of curse. God cursed the serpent in the Garden of Eden. And Jesus became a curse –

Psalms 22 v 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

And as Paul identified as he wrote to the

Galatians 3 v 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

We need to understand this morning just what the Lord Jesus Christ was doing there, and what caused him to cry out these words My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? since He was forsaken we must ask WHY? Why should God the Father forsake His Holy perfect spotless Son in the hour of His greatest need? Since Jesus was truly His well beloved Son why was it so necessary to abandon Him at the last moment of His life?

These are mysteries which seem hard to unravel.

The text speaks of the darkness –

Matthew 27 v 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

The 6th hourr by Jewish reckoning was midday. It was the time when the sun should have been at its brightest and hottest. But the sun was somehow obscured, draped in darkness for 3 hours. It was not an eclipse, since the passover was the time of the full moon. No this was a SUPERNATURAL darkness which extended over all the known inhabited earth; and for me it reminds me of the predicted events of the future coming again of the Lord Jesus, on the day of Judgement – Matthew 24 v 29 – 31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

There is no doubt that at Jerusalem on the day of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ darkness covered the proceedings for 3 hours during which Jesus said nothing – however Jesus also entered into darkness – of body and soul. Both Jesus as man and Jesus as God entered into a profound darkness, unimaginable and terrible. He entered a period of intense loneliness and being forsaken. He had ALWAYS known fellowship with His father – He had never been unaware of His Father’s pleasure in Him – and He had gladly come to delight to do His father’s will. But now, in these 3 hours, Jesus knew what it was to be forsaken, by men, but more especially by His Father. In fact the Lord Jesus knew how to be forsaken by men – his disciples had run away from him in the garden – he had been criticised, threatened and mocked by His creatures – and all this He could bear knowing that his Father was on his side – but now – at this moment in these 3 hours – His heavenly Father withdraws Himself from His Son. Why? How can this be?

We come to the conclusion that it was because it was in these 3 vital hours that the most painful and the most important work of Christ on the cross was done.

In these 3 hours Jesus became sin for us – and He became aware, acutely aware of the deep sense of His father’s wrath to mankind. Jesus was now embarking on bearing the sins of the whole world of elect sinners. And while He did that, God’s comforting presence was withdrawn from Him. Here it was that Jesus (Isaiah 53 v 4)

bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53 v 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Jesus Christ was the only one qualified to bear sin’s punishment – we cannot ourselves – Romans 6 v 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5 v 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

As AW Pink says “Had there been no sin there would have been no death. But what is death? It is that dreadful silence which reigns supreme after the last breath is drawn and the body lies motionless. It is that ghastly pallor which comes over the face as the blood ceases to circulate and the eyes remain expressionless. But even more than this – the wages of sin is SPIRITUAL DEATH. Sin separates from God who is the fount of all life.”

You see Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. We all understand that. But there is more to death than this – because of sin there is another death to died for human beings – it is called by the Theologians ‘Penal Death – we may call it ‘Punishment’ death – and this is the separation of the Soul from God.

An illustration can help in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The son left his father and took his fortune. To all intents and purposes while the son was in the far country he was as good as dead to his father. They were separated. He was dead while he lived.

After his return the father said (Luke 15 v 24)

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

While the son was in the far country he had not ceased to exist, had he? But he was separated from his father – and this helps us to understand that in this life even though we are not dead PHYSICALLY, we are dead SPIRITUALLY in that we are separated and alienated from our God because of sin.

During the darkness God the Father was judging and punishing His son. He was making Him to go through the experience of sinners in their separation from God. He was inflicting Him with the awfulness of darkness of alienation so that He might truly be where sinners had been – and yet without being a sinner Himself. This is what the scripture means – He became sin for us – He was condemned in our place. Oh what a wonderful Saviour that He should do this for us. What love this is to do that for me!

And it is then no wonder that the Lord Jesus at the end of those 3 hours cried, not whispered, but shouted the words My God MY God why hast thou forsaken me? It was as if He was saying “Oh Father, Oh Father isn’t 3 hours separation enough? Isn’t that separation from thee sufficient to pay for my people’s sins? How much longer do I have to bear the spiritual agony of separation from thee, my heavenly Father?”

Such was the cry – all in the context of some contrasts in the scripture of words spoken by the Lord.

Once He had said

(John 11 v 42) And I knew that thou hearest me always:

but now He cries

(Psalms 22 v 2) O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent

Formerly He had said in John 8 v 29

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

But now He shouts

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

This was a cry of DISTRESS not of Distrust. God had withdrawn from Him, but notice how He still sticks close to His God. His faith triumphed by laying hold of God even in the darkness. MY GOD – Thou with whom is infinite and everlasting strength – My God I lean on thee.

Notice now how the Lord Jesus Christ was misunderstood in these words from the cross.

Matthew 27 v 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

To understand this we need to know that these words Eli, Eli are not Hebrew – they are the Aramaic tongue sometimes called Syro-Chaldaic – the common language of those times. So this was not a pure misunderstanding on the part of these men at the foot of the cross – but was very much designed as a taunt. They purposely mis-heard the words of Christ – and because of the popular belief that Elijah would come again. They were inasmuch saying that if God could not help him then Elijah would have to do, which of course is a blasphemy.

It could also be true that there were some by-standers who really did not understand Christ’s words. And it has been suggested that we are very often misunderstood in the things that we say.

Have we ever been struck with such profound grief that we find ourselves bereft and weeping and someone comes along and remark that we are guilty of UNBELIEF?

How unkind to misunderstand a true emotion as grief.

Have we ever been depressed and low, for nothing seems to go right for a time, disaster striking all the time and we feel we’ve lost everything – we utter a cry of despair – and someone else comes along and accuses us of COMPLAINING AGAINST GOD! This too is unhelpful and unkind. But my friends it is nothing compared to the way Jesus was treated on the cross when he was misunderstood.

But there is something else which we must notice from this word of Christ from the cross. We have thought about the Lord Jesus Christ being forsaken of God. I have to tell you this morning that this cry from our saviour predicts and foretells the FINAL CONDITION OF EVERY LOST SOUL who dies in their sin or who are not saved at His coming – namely – FORSAKEN BY GOD. What a dreadful thing to be forsaken by God – do you really want to go through that my friend? Today is the day of mercy – because God is merciful. He is longsuffering with you – he has put up with your stubborn rebellion until now – but my dear friend there is a limit to God’s mercy – the day of mercy will soon be ended. The door of hope will soon be shut fast. It is appointed unto man ONCE to die – and after this the judgement – there is no extended mercy beyond the grave – now is the day of salvation – now is the time to trust and believe in the work that the Lord Jesus did on the cross. In the Day of Judgment God will deal with you in Justice for it is what you deserve. But today it is still the day of Grace characterised by MERCY – and He has promised NOT to give you what you deserve if you trust Him NOW – before you die. Mark 16 v 16 says very simply

He that believeth not shall be damned.

When Jesus hung on that cross in the 3 hour darkness the wrath and anger of God was being worked out on Him. All who believe that it was for their sin that he died, will be saved.

BUT as Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3 v 36)

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Oh my friend escape the wrath to come by repenting of your sin, seeking God’s pardon and forgiveness and trusting in the finished work of His son the Lord Jesus Christ – don’t deliberately call down the wrath of God upon your own head when you can escape today!

Do you want to be forsaken after you die? That will be your future if you turn away from this opportunity to repent of your sins and trust this Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was forsaken by His father so that you can avoid that abandonment in eternal hell.

Seek Him today. Ask Him to forgive you and reveal His saving love to your soul. As a Father He waits and watches – as did the father in the parable. Have you begun that journey from the far country of sin and rebellion? Set out today and find peace for your soul!

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