Sunday, 03 September 2000 00:00

The Word of Anguish

Matthew 27:45-46 (KJV)

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?

Christ's question is a startling question. The Son was the Father's daily delight (Proverbs 8:30). From eternity past through the thirty-three years of public ministry the Father was "well pleased with His beloved Son." Yet here Christ cries, "Why have you forsaken me?" Christ doesn't cry out when the spikes pierce His skin. He doesn't cry out when the thorns crown His brow. He doesn't cry when mocked and ridiculed. At the ninth hour, forsaken by the Father, he cries out!

  1. There is a great mystery in the cry of anguish.
    God never forsakes anyone but for one cause—sin. It was for sin that Adam was cast from the garden. It was for sin that Israel wandered in the desert. It is sin that separates from God. But we are talking of Christ! "God forsaken of God—who can understand" Martin Luther.
    1. Christ dies a sinner's death... "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken... ?"
      Christ never called Jehovah anything but "Father," never God. "Father, forgive them," "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit..." Christ lost his relationship with God. "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13).
    2. Christ cries in sudden darkness... "There was darkness over all the land..."
      It was dark from noon till 3:00 p.m. Spurgeon said it was "Midnight at Midday." Light typifies the revealed presence of God. Sinners walk in darkness. God's glory is gone.
    3. Christ feels a sad despair... "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
      "Christ was now without a sense of the gracious presence of God, and was filled, as the surety of his people, with a sense of divine wrath... for one part of the punishment of sin is loss of the divine presence" (John Gill). "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23, cast "from the presence of the Lord" (II Thessalonians 1:9).
  2. There is a great meaning to this cry of anguish.
    Christ died as a substitute for sinners. "For all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). In the plan of God, the cross was provided before the offense. Before sin there was a Saviour.
    1. The young bull (ox) on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16)... The priest laid hands on the bullock, and then the blood taken to the Ark of the Covenant. The priest entered into communion after the death, a substitute who died in the place of Israel.
    2. The leper in Israel... was banished from the camp (Leviticus 13:46). Two birds are used. One bird is to be slain and the blood sprinkled on the leper (Leviticus 14:7). The other bird is set free. The priest offers the sin and the trespass offerings and the leper is cleansed.
    3. The serpent in Israel... if an Israelite were bitten by a snake they were to lift their eyes and behold a brass serpent on a pole. They would be cleansed of the venom. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." (Galatians 3:13).
  3. There is a great message drawn from this cry of anguish.
    Our relationship with God is not due to our works, or our holiness, or our righteousness, or our efforts. We have a relationship with God because of His great love for sinners in giving to us His Son who became our substitute on the cross. We can boast in nothing, save Christ.
    "For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
    (II Corinthians 5:21).

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