Matthew 27:45-50 --"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 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? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him. Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."
We come again to Calvary -- Calvary, where God prayed and a mob cursed; Calvary, where deep darkness enveloped the earth that a divine light might fill the earth; Calvary, where God's Son was forsaken that we might not be forsaken; Calvary, where by faith we received our sight and our burden's were rolled away; Calvary, your hope and mine for time and eternity.
We see at Calvary, Jesus dying on the cross. We look today at the fourth word from the cross. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" He has already spoken three times. He first spoke and said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." As they were crucifying Him, they lifted Him up on the cross and dropped that cross into a hole. He was saying repeatedly, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Next He spoke to the thief who had cried out to Him, "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." And Jesus replied, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." The third saying of our Lord from the cross, was when He spoke to His mother, "Woman behold thy son," and to John, "Behold thy mother." Three hours transpired. In the daylight the people could see what was going on. The mob was passing by, cursing Him, reviling Him, ridiculing Him, mocking Him. The scripture says, "and the thieves cast the same in His teeth." The soldiers had already gambled for His garment. Suddenly after three hours, there was a darkness, total darkness, where no one could see. At midday, it was as midnight, and there was stillness as the crowd was quieted. You could hear the groans and the shrieks from those three on the cross. At the end of those three hours of darkness Jesus cried out. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This is a consequence of sin.
Sin has been the blight of our world ever since Adam. In its first manifestation sin took the part of suicide. For God had told Adam,
"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The day Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he died. On that day He died spiritually and became alienated and separated from God.
The next consequence we see, was when Cain slew his brother Abel. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death" and it refers to separation. The story of Cain is found in Genesis 4:13,14. When Cain was punished by God, he was sent to the land of Nod to be a wayfarer or a wanderer, and he said, "My punishment is greater than I can bear; ...from thy face shall I be hid." That was a consequence of sin. God's face would be continually hid from Him forever and ever and ever. Separation from God, that is what death is for the unbeliever. When the prodigal son, came home, in Luke chapter 15, the father said "For this my son was dead and is alive again." He was not physically dead but he was dead in that he was alienated, separated from His father. That is what Jesus was saying on the cross, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me? He had not ceased to exist but He had been separated from the Father during those three hours of darkness. The Bible says, of this matter of separation, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Second Thessalonians 1:9 says, that those who reject Christ... "Shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (Everlasting destruction). I do not like to preach on Hell and the consequence of sin, but our Lord would have us to examine His Word. The central word on the cross illuminates this awful place called Hell, and Jesus took our Hell for us. "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" For Jesus had been alienated, separated from the Father as He took upon Himself the punishment of all mankind. In olden times, David had said, "Yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread"(Psalm 37:25). Yet here is one who was sinless. He had never sinned, nor had He ever done anything wrong. He was always in the will of God the Father, yet here He is suffering the pains of death and of Hell, that we might live and have everlasting life. In infancy the Lord Jesus suffered at the hand of man. In His ministry He suffered much at the hand of Satan. But here as He hangs on Calvary's cross we get a glimpse of His suffering from God. At Calvary, God, in justice (pure, unadulterated, infinite, justice), poured out His wrath upon the sinless One, the blameless One, the perfect One.
Martin Luther, for a considerable period, studied this saying of our Lord. He was in his study alone so much of the time and one day someone entered that chamber, and just as they did they saw Martin Luther sitting at his desk, thumping his pen, and then arising and saying,"God, Forsaken of God, who can understand this." But, that is what we see-God, forsaken of God. "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?"
We get a great insight, I think, into the Lord Jesus' sacrifice. In this saying we see the great distance that He came and traveled in order to purchase our pardon and pay the ransom price for our sin. In Philippians 2:5, the Bible says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
So here we see Jesus who came from the Morphe, or form, of God. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. He was God, and yet He came from that form of God, down to man and incased Himself in the body of a little baby. He then grew into manhood and walked this earth for thirty three and one-half years, and He was God. He was God all of that time. He never sinned; He never did anything wrong. And here we find Him going to the cross and we find Him going into Hell, because God forsakes Him. Oh, what a great distance He traveled, from the throne room of Heaven to the depths of Hell, that He might take upon Himself the punishment for every sin that had ever been committed or would be committed. How great was the distance that He traveled!
In the Old Testament, the Bible tells us of the events of the Day of Atonement. The Israelites would bring two goats into the court yard of the Tabernacle, and they would bring a bullock also. They would take the blood of that bullock, and draw blood causing it to die. The high priest would take the blood of that bullock and go in to the Holy of Holies. There was a place there called the Holy Place. The Holy Place was where the priests ministered every day. But only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies and only on the day of atonement which occurred once each year. He would take the blood of the bullock first. In the Holy of Holies was one piece of furniture, the Ark of the Covenant, and over it was a lid of beaten gold and over that were two cherubims looking down upon the Mercy Seat. As he approached the Mercy Seat, he would sprinkle the blood of the bullock. When he got to the Mercy Seat, he would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat. Having done that, he had atoned and covered over the sins of himself for the previous year. He would then return to the courtyard where there were two goats. He would take the blood of one goat and go back into the Holy of Holies and would once again repeat that ceremony of sprinkling the blood over the ground and then over the Mercy Seat. He would then return to the great congregation of people who were assembled for the occasion. He had bells on his robes. The people eagerly listened for those bells, for that would mean their sins were atoned or covered for the past year. God had accepted the blood offering, and the Priest was alive. Every year that was repeated but there was something else there. There was another goat there and the priest would go and symbolically place the sins of the people on that scapegoat. That scapegoat would be taken out into the wilderness so far that he could never find his way back. Jesus Christ is our scapegoat! Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of all the people of all times as He became sin for us. He was our scapegoat!
The Bible says in John 10:14, that He is our shepherd and that the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. If you study Psalm 22, you will notice a very graphic picture of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, though this psalm was written a thousand years before Jesus died. That Psalm pictures Jesus as the good shepherd. The next Psalm is Psalm 23, which we love so much," The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want." It tells us about the great shepherd. The next Psalm, Psalm 24, tells us about the chief shepherd Who is coming back again. But, oh my beloved friend, the twenty second Psalm begins with, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The Good Shepherd died for you and me and for every person that had ever lived. 2 Corinthians 5:21 reads, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Jesus made sin for us! He became the representative of sin. You think of all the fornication, and idolatry, lying, thievery, drugs, drunkenness, immorality, and all of the sins of man; all of that sin was placed on Jesus as He took the punishment for those sins. The Lord Jesus was sinless. In 2 Peter 2:22, the Bible says, "He did no sin." So here He was, blameless, yet all of this sin was heaped upon Him. Marvel of marvels, that the Lord would say, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, And him that cometh unto me I will in no wise (or for no reason) cast out." He is saying, come thieves, come harlots, come drug addicts, come drunkards, come sinners and I will save you, because I paid the price for you. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Our Lord personally endured the agonies of hell. In that period of time, Jesus Christ took an eternity of Hell, as He became separated from the Father. This was the first time in eternity that God the Father had turned His back on His Son. He said in the book of Proverbs chapter 8, "I was daily His delight." He always had wonderful communion with the Father." But at Calvary, He was in a position and condition where the Father had turned His back on Him. The lights were out because God is light. Love was gone. Jesus could not experience the love of the Father any more, because God is love. God the Father had turned His back on His Son. He was alienated, because of this awful blight of sin on the human race.
Let us notice Hell's torments as we see them here in this scene. A preacher one time was talking to a group of fellows about justification. After he talked a while he said to the crowd, "Can anybody here tell me the significance of the cross; can you explain to me, what Jesus did?" A fellow raised his hand and said, "I can." The preacher said tell us, and the man said, "He swapped with me." (He swapped with me.) That is what He did, "He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." In our Lord's agony we have a glimpse of Hell, in His pains, in His shrieks, and in His loneliness. We then hear this agonizing question, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This is a prophecy really of what Hell is like, a prophecy of Hell. We can identify somewhat with the physical suffering of our Lord. God pulled down the curtains of all light so that no one could look upon His dear Son, and the physical agony He went through. Let's think about the mental suffering He went through. "My God, My God..." why, why, why? That is what people in Hell are saying, WHY?
When my daddy was dying he looked up at me and said "Son, how did we ever get ourselves in this situation?" He knew he was going and it was too late to do anything about it. "Son, how did we get ourselves in a situation like this?" People in Hell are crying out as Jesus did. He had been separated from the Father and He was crying out, "My God, My God..." why, why? Can you imagine people in eternity saying, why--why? It is the question of a baffled mind, an unsolvable question. Why? Why? The answer is given in Psalm 22:3, "For thou art holy, Oh thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." Why? Because the holiness of God demanded it. Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet said, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity." That is why -- The Holiness of God. Isaiah saw God and had a glimpse of His holiness and said, "Woe is me for I am unclean, for I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips." And he heard the angels saying holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, holy. This is the only time in the Bible an attribute of God is spoken in a trinity. You never hear love, love, love. You never hear justice, justice, justice. But we hear holy, holy, holy; for God is holy. One of our problems in our understanding almighty God and eternity is we do not understand the holiness of God. God cannot allow sin into His presence. So the only way anyone can get into Heaven is to have their sin judged, and adequately, satisfactorily punished. Jesus had to take your Hell for you and my Hell for me in order for it to be adequately, satisfactorily punished. We know it was, because God raised Him from the dead and put His stamp of approval upon His work and His sacrifice and He lives today. Jesus said, "Because I live ye shall live also."
Then we get another opportunity to grasp the mental suffering of Hell in that word forsaken. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Oh, that is an awful word, forsaken--rejected. Dr. Kenneth Wuest, a Greek scholar, said that word means forsaking someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances. People want to laugh about Hell. I want to tell you, Hell is no joke. People say, "Well, when I go there, I am going to have a lot of company." Yes, but you will not enjoy it. It will be a hostile circumstance in a hostile environment. Jesus took that. When Jesus was here on earth, He was forsaken by His family. He was forsaken by the people of Nazareth. They became so angry with Him with that first sermon He preached at the synagogue that they wanted to kill Him. He was forsaken of the Jews. They said, "Crucify Him, crucify Him, let His blood be on us and on our children." Note the sad commentary in the book of Matthew chapter 26:56, "Then all the disciples forsook Him." Jesus was forsaken on earth, but the worst circumstance was when the Father forsook Him. He had no help for His pain from the Father. The Lord had been able to go at times to His Father when He needed help, and He had been given help. Remember Satan's temptation of Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry. He was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness and tempted for forty days and forty nights. The Bible says that at the end of that time angels came and ministered to Him. When He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He saw a cup. As He looked into that cup, He cried out and said, "Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." What did He see in the cup? I believe that what our Lord saw in the cup was this time on the cross and this unusual statement. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Why have you forsaken me? I was daily your delight; we had such beautiful communion throughout eternity. Why have you forsaken me? And the Bible says He was in such agony that He sweat great drops of blood and an angel came and ministered to Him. But here we find no angels ministering to Him, no Father giving a word of comfort. We simply hear, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" What a terrible condition in which to be!
If you are here today, and you have been indifferent to the cross, and to the Lord, would you note what is yet to come as stated in the book of Psalms chapter 22, "They that go down to the dust shall bow before Him." In Philippians chapter 2 it says, AEvery knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father?" Hell is a terrible place and God did not want us to go there. Jesus came loving us, dying for us, and saying, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
This question is a revelation of the wrath of God. It is also a revelation of His love. Isaac Watts penned these beautiful words, "See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down, did ere such love and sorrow meet or thorns composed so rich a crown." Why did my Savior to Calvary go? He loved me so; He wanted me in the glory world with Him; He did not want me to go to that awful place of banishment. We have a problem understanding this wrath of God on sin. But, God has so much to say about it. Certainly we like to think about the love of God. But, the love of God is magnified whenever we see the wrath of God in what Jesus endured for us. The wrath of God, the Bible says in Judges chapter 2:14, is spoken of as "hot anger." In Deuteronomy 9:19, it is spoken of as "hot displeasure." In Hebrews 10:27, it is spoken of as "fiery indignation." All this was heaped upon Jesus as He hung on the cross. The holiness of God, you see, cannot be compromised in the day of judgment. God cannot allow sin to come upon or into His presence.
Justice, pure, infinite justice, is another attribute of God. There are so many attributes: love, mercy, kindness, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience (there is nothing He does not know) holiness, and justice, among other attributes. If we could just grasp the reality and realization that in all of the attributes of God, they are present infinitely. God loves us, yet God cannot allow us into His presence because we have been stained by sin. God's justice demands that sin be punished. Praise God, in His infinite wisdom, loving us, said there is a way. There is a way. God hath devised a means, whereby His vanished be not expelled from Him. As stated in 2 Samuel 14:14, God devised a means. The means was the cross. God said, He would come down in the person of Jesus Christ, walk among men, never sin, go to the cross, take your Hell, take your alienation, and take your separation, so that all of His people, all the people of earth would not have to go to Hell, so that no one would have to go to Hell. John 6:37 says, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise (for no reason) cast out." Perfect justice is satisfied; perfect holiness is satisfied; perfect love is satisfied; perfect mercy is satisfied; perfect kindness is satisfied. They are all satisfied by what Jesus did on Calvary's cross for us. We see it magnified so much by that cry, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
The Bible says in John 5:22, that all judgment is given to the Son. That one who took so much for us will one day be our judge. There is room at the cross for you. God will save any person that will come to Him and put his faith and trust and reliance in Jesus Christ and Him alone to save them. We must not trust in a church, in living good, in baptism, and in paying money to the church, but trust Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us on the cross.
"My God," is a cry of distress, but not of distrust. Because God judged sin on the Son, He now accepts the believer in His Son. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." The Lord lives within us whenever we come to Him in believing faith and saves our soul. Colossians 3:3 says, "Our life is hid with Christ in God." Do you know Him today? Have you come to the cross and trusted Jesus to save you? There is life in a look at the crucified One. Have you trusted Him? Are you saved?
Admiral Ching was a Chinese navy man. He attended a gospel service back before World War II. The preacher preached the gospel and gave an invitation. They passed out cards and people who would receive Christ as Savior were asked to sign the card. Admiral Ching sat there with a pencil and that card in his hand. A companion of his said, "Don't sign it now; just think about it." So he put the pencil and the card in his pocket and the service was dismissed. As he left the building, a man stepped out of the shadows, shot and killed him. God loves us, Jesus died for us. We must accept Him before it is too late.