- Why Have You Abandoned Me
- Matthew 27:37-43
- Lyndol Loyd March 5, 2017
Today, we are going to start a series that I believe is going to impact you in a very significant, very deep and meaningful spiritual way. We will look at some of the things that Jesus said while hanging on the cross. As we prepare our hearts for Easter weekend, when we celebrate the empty tomb, I thought it would be very meaningful if we look at the phrases, the powerful and theologically deep phrases that Jesus uttered while on the cross.
Let’s start in Matthew 27:37-43, to give you context on the first words we are going to look at, Jesus on the cross. The Bible says: 37 A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two revolutionaries[a] were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
“Where is your God now?” Admittedly, if you were there looking on at Jesus hanging on the cross, you might say something similar to what they did as well. “He trusts in God? Where is his God now?”
If you would have seen Him, you would have been deeply disturbed, because Scripture tells us very clearly what they did to Jesus. They beat Him and abused Him so severely, that He didn’t even look like a human being. Think about this; they took His shirt off, His clothing off, and whipped Him thirty-nine times across the back with a leather whip that would have had pieces of glass and metal and sharp objects, that literally would rip His back open. Often times, this kind of scourging would leave His internal organs exposed.
They blind folded Him, and with their big signet rings, they pounded Him again and again in the face, crying out, “Prophesy! Tell us who hit you!” Until His face was black and blue, and bloody. Then they put the crown of thorns upon His brow, just to make fun of Him. The sharpest thorns you can imagine and pushed it down where blood just covered His face.
They kicked Him again and again, they spit on Him. They put Him down on the ground on pieces of wood and drove stakes through His flesh, through His heels. History tells us that they would have stripped Him down naked. There He is, looking more like an animal than a man, hanging naked on the cross, and they were saying, “You still trust in God? Where is He now? Where is He now?”
Trust, the root word that is translated as trust in this portion of Scripture is spelled, peitho (pi’-tho). If you are taking notes, it means to convince or to rely on with inward certainty; to have full confidence or complete trust.
“You still trust in God?” It’s very easy to trust in God when things are going well, but it’s difficult to trust in God, for many of us, when life goes dark. All of us must answer, at some point, the most fundamental question of life: “Do you really trust God?”
From the beginning of creation, every force in hell would try to undermine the character, authority and nature and goodness of God. Even in the form of a serpent, the evil one came to talk, he said, “Are you going to trust Him? Did He really say, ‘Don’t eat from that fruit?’ Are you really going to trust Him?” Because it is easy to trust Him in the light, but it’s so much more difficult to trust Him when life goes dark.
To give you an example, right after Joni and I moved to Hot Springs Village we were living in a rental house with a master bedroom that was on one side of the house and the other bedrooms on the opposite side of the house. Abigail had just turned two and we had transitioned her from her baby bed to her big girl bed while using every trick we could think of to convince her that it wasn’t okay to get out of her bed until we would come to get her.
One night, at about 2:30 in the morning, a straight line wind came through our neighborhood and took out all kinds of trees, ruining our neighbor’s roof and crushing our other neighbor’s truck. It sounded as if a locomotive was coming through our neighborhood. When it happened, Joni and I sat straight up in bed and said, “What was that?” There was no electricity. It was pitch black in the house. We didn’t have a match, a candle, a flashlight – nothing. In a fit of panic the two of us about broke our necks trying to make it across the house to get to Abigail. Praying she was okay between stepping on toys and running into furniture. Eventually we made it to her bedroom only to find her still asleep and completely unaware that anything had happened.
It strikes me that it’s so easy to trust God when life is going the way you want it to, when you can see where he is at work, but it’s so much more difficult when you don’t understand, when your life is in the dark.
Speaking of dark, here is what the Bible says about this time on the cross, Matthew 27:45-46: 45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Never, not even one time, did He complain when men did their worst. But, when God withdraws He screams out in agony, “I can’t take this. I don’t understand this. Why?”
It’s interesting to me that all through the Gospels, Jesus referred to God as His Father, His Abba, His Daddy. But at this moment, something happened. I don’t know what it is, but instead of saying Daddy, Abba, Papa, Father; He says, “My God, my God, why?”
This is perhaps one of the saddest verses in the Bible. Unquestionably, it is one of the most confusing. Martin Luther, centuries ago said, “How can God forsake God?” Because that is what happened. The answer is I don’t know, I cannot explain this. There are so many theological challenges in this question that I could not even begin to answer how God can forsake His Son. How? Why? What? Jesus had to know, did He know? Surely He knew, He was God! All these questions and He embraces the one question that almost all of us ask at some point in our lives. When it goes dark and we don’t understand, we end up asking “Why?”
- It’s the young couple who go in for a routine ultrasound only to discover that their baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.
- It’s the woman who grew up with a sexually abusive father who also physically abused her mother.
- It’s the man who loses his life savings after making what he thought was a sound investment only to discover that he has been swindled out of his money by a con artist.
Maybe you know what it is like to feel like you’ve been left in the dark? Maybe you know what it is like to feel betrayed by God? Maybe you’ve been left feeling dirty? Maybe you’ve felt all alone? Maybe you’ve wondered why God would allow something like that to happen to you?
Hearing those hurts and those questions, I mean that’s where we all live at some time or another and you ask “Why? I don’t understand.” The reality is, we are not always going to understand. That’s truth, because we only see part of the story. We can’t understand everything from God’s perspective. In fact, Paul said this very clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:12 when he was comparing now with eternity, he said: “Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely.”
N O W H E R E. It’s a little bit like this: If I asked you, “What two words do you see?” Many of you would say, “I see nowhere.” Others of you would say, “No, actually I see now here.” Those of you from the deep south you’d say, “I see no hair! No hair!” You only see part at the beginning. A lot of people in hard times say, “God is nowhere to be found.” Others who truly get to know God say, “No He’s now here, even though I don’t understand, He is here.”
We are often incapable of understanding, just as we are often incapable of understanding God and His divine purposes, even, or especially in our pain.
Here is what God says, Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
But the good news is, God’s Word gives us some things that we need to remember when we don’t understand.
I want you to say this declaration with me, “God is good! God is for me! God is with me!” How do we get from the place in life where we say, “God is nowhere to be found in this circumstance.” to the place that we say, without a doubt, “God is now here.”? Life moves. Curve balls come at us. Things change. How do we get from here to here? We hold on to a God that is unchangeable. That’s what we do.
Let’s be honest, some of us are not in a crisis. Some of you here today feel blessed and praise God for it! You feel the abundant smile of God in your life, and remembering who God is and holding on to Him in your life probably looks a little like this: It’s a calming time with Him, you’re reassured that He is good and He loves you.
But, in every life the winds change directions and the storms of life begin to blow. The challenges, the curve balls, the betrayals, and the things you didn’t expect, and all of a sudden holding on to who God is looks a little bit more like this. Anybody relate? Sometimes in life, you get to the point where the chaos and the hurt and the confusion are so great that holding onto who God is leaves you with white knuckles and worn out muscles spiritually. Today, we are going to hold onto an unchanging and an immovable God.
- We are going to remember that God is good. In Mark 10:18, Scripture says this: “No one is good except God alone.”
He is good. Here’s why it’s important: Because we tend to project our present situation on God. When we are confused and when things happen that we don’t understand, we say, “God, why have you left me in this place, I don’t get it, where are you?” When things happen that are bad, we sometimes think maybe God isn’t good because He’s allowing this thing.
But, our God transcends circumstance. That’s what we hold onto. In the middle of cancer, God is good. In abuse, in hurts so deep that we can’t even explain it, and they affect our lives for years, even then God is good. In grieving a loss, God is good. In war, in atrocious things like genocide, God is still good; forever, and it will never change. He is always good. We remember, we cling onto that. God is always good.
- God is for me. Would you write that down? God is for me. Romans 8:31, Paul writes this: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
I want you to just think about how ridiculous this idea is, it’s unbelievable! God authored everything. The Bible says that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the great I am! He breathed the stars into space, and yet, Scripture says He is for you.
If that is true, and Scripture says that it is, that the God who created everything is for you; then friends, who and what circumstance could dare phase you? The all-powerful God is your advocate, He believes in you, He has a dream and a purpose that is beyond the confusion of today. We hold onto that and we remember that God is always good. He is always for us.
- God is with me! He is with us! In Hebrews 13:5, Scripture says: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Never, that is good news! No matter how alone you may feel. No matter how betrayed you may have been, God promises that He will never leave, He is good, He is for you, and He is with you. Even when we don’t understand, we can always remember that God is good, and God is for us, and God is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
So, the question I would ask you is this: “Do you trust God?” Because it’s easy to trust God in the light, but it’s more difficult to trust God when life is dark.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us this, the Bible says: “Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
We are not going to understand everything. But, “in all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” The word in the Hebrew that is translated as acknowledge, is actually the word, “yada.” Very literally, this word means “to know.” In all your ways, know God. In all you do, know God. Even when you don’t understand, know God; and He will make your paths straight.
Here’s what I’m finding in my life: The better I know God the less I ask, “Why?” And the better I know God the more I ask, “What?” Instead of, “God, why is this happening? God, why are you doing this? Why aren’t you doing what I want?” The better I get to know God, the more I ask, “What? God, what are you doing? God, what do you want me to see? God, what is your purpose? God, what is your plan?” When so many people say, “God is nowhere to be found.” I say, “No, no, no! Because I know Him, God is now here.” Instead of asking, “Why?” I’ve learned to ask, “What?”
You may ask, “Why did god forsake Jesus?” “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” The answer is found in Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:21, The Bible says: “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus became sin, why? So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. On the cross, He became murder and adultery, and lust and lying, and pornography and cheating, and racism and hatred, and any other sin that’s existed in this world.
Jesus became sin and God had to look away because His eyes are too righteous to even look upon sin. He died for our sins, so that our sins can be forgiven. When everyone around the cross didn’t understand, God made him sin, so that we can become the righteousness of God in Christ.
So, no matter what you’re going through; never, ever forget that…
God is good.
God is for you, and
God is with you. He will never, ever leave you.
God, we find great comfort in the words of your Son, Jesus; on the cross. Even God, when He asked, “Why?” We see Your divine hand and Your purposes leading every step of the way. Help us God, to trust you, to truly trust you.