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Today we are looking at one of the last words of Jesus, and one of the hardest to hear, from Matthew:
45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Those words are so hard for us to hear coming from Jesus. After all, this is Jesus, the Son of God. True God from True God, True Light from True Light. God Himself in the flesh. How can He say this? Why can He say this?
There are a lot of thoughts about this, all of them having an element of truth. Perhaps he feels the weight of sin at this time. We are told in Scripture that all the sins of us all were placed upon Him. Think about that. All the sin. Sins past. Present. Future. All the sins, all the darkness, all of it. Not just the things we think of as “little things” but the terrible, perverse awful things. All this was placed upon Him. All of it.
That had to feel heavy. That had to be a lot. That had to be tough. All upon Him. He felt the weight of it all, and He may have felt alone at that point. There is some real truth to that.
But, that is not why I think He said it. Do you remember what I have told you over and over about the Psalms? How they are the hymnal for the Jewish people? One of the things that we know about the hymns we love, is we know the lyrics. So, if I say “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound” you will almost by instinct reply “that saved a wretch like me.” We know our hymns.
The Jewish people were the same way with the Psalms. When they heard one line, they would know the rest of them. So today, listen to the first line of Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. Everyone around would have heard this and known what He was doing. We hear Him giving words to anguish, they heard a Psalm. Well, what is the rest of that Psalm?
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
It is a Psalm of victory. A people not yet born will be told about what He has done. God had not turned His face but has instead delivered victory.
I believe in this moment that Jesus was not overcome by feelings of defeat, but quite the opposite. He was declaring His victory. He was letting all know that it was finished and the victory has been won.
He has defeated sin and death, sin is atoned for, no more would it hold power of any of us. This moment on the cross is not Jesus feeling defeat. It is Him declaring victory.
The Jewish crowd around would have understood this fully. They may not have understood His declaration of victory, but they would have known what He was claiming.
Jesus is declaring victory over sin. As dark as Good Friday is, do not let the darkness hide the victory. He has overcome. Yes, it is dark today. But Sunday is coming.
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