Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?"

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1).

Just imagine. Jesus, hanging on a cross, slowly and painfully dying. Every sin of the human race was upon Him. All the enmity of Satan was being brought to bear against Him. God the Father – in righteousness and justice – had no choice but to turn His face away from His only Son.

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

What man would not cry out in anguish in the midst of such suffering? How obvious that Jesus fully shared our humanity. As the divine Son of God, Jesus had always been in fellowship with His Father. Yet, because of sin, that eternal fellowship was broken. At that moment on the cross, Jesus was separated from His Father. Is it any wonder He cried out?

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

The entirety of the human race was represented on that cross – Jesus by His presence, and everyone else by their sins. Of that race, only Jesus deserved to live. He was the only One who had completely and thoroughly separated Himself from sin. He alone rejected every facet of that which belonged to the realm of Satan.

I have heard with my own ears men – elders, shepherds, church leaders – pray corporately, “Forgive us our many sins.” I have heard them as they stood before the flock, declaring, “I'm not perfect. I'm just a sinner – like we all are.” I have seen with my own eyes on church websites slogan after slogan stating, “We are just a group of imperfect people.”

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

Jesus said no. He refused. He would not sin. “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). So even though He was hungry and thirsty after forty days of fasting in the wilderness (Luke 4), still Jesus declined Satan's temptations. Even though He knew He would die horribly and bear the sin of the world, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He accepted the weight of the world's wickedness and suffered the indignity of a public execution, rather than for one moment submit to sin.

So why has it become so common within the church to make excuses for sin? Why do we gloss over it? Why do we look the other way? When the elder prays, “Forgive us our many sins,” I have to ask what kind of life he has been living that would require such a prayer? According to God's word, an elder is to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). So why would such men constantly remind us of what sinners they are? In fact, all Christians – as the bride of Christ – are to be “holy and blameless” (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; Colossians 1:22). The church is to be “sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10). Those who are called saints are to be “blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). It is Satan who wants us to be an “imperfect people.” God wants us to be “spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

I have asked that question, but I have not suffered as Christ did. I hear the word of the Lord, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4). Yes, I have lost friends and family members for the sake of Christ. Yes, I have lost homes and property. Yes, I have lost jobs. Yes, I have been persecuted. Yes, I have had entire congregations of people turn away from me. Yes, I have been run out of town. Yes, I have experienced hatred, lies and the gnashing of teeth. Yes, at times it feels as though the Lord has abandoned me entirely. But I have still not suffered what my Lord suffered. Therefore,“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). There is no excuse for the so-called people of God to tolerate wickedness, much less advertise it. Jesus turned His back on sin, and gave us an example to follow.

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

When the church gathers her collective voice and declares to the world her “imperfect” status, it is obvious that she has forgotten the presence of Christ's Holy Spirit, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

God was forced by His holiness to turn away from His Son while bearing our stain of sin upon Him. But Jesus – even in such a horrid moment – would not turn away from His Father. The church must be reminded of her King's fortitude. What is so casually accepted in the assembly today ignores completely the warning of Scripture, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:13).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

How have we become so callous … so complacent? When temptations are set before us, we must refuse! “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). When you feel the sting of sin and the attack of Satan, then you must take up “the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). But do not bow to sin … ever! And certainly there should never be a public recognition that imperfection reigns within the body of Christ. The command and promise of God has obviously been forgotten,“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

Thank God that those were not Christ's last words. Yes, He experienced human weakness and suffering. Yes, He experienced anguish and heartache. Yes, He was assaulted by hatred and abandoned to die alone. But His trust in His Father overcame every obstacle that Satan placed in His path.

“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last”
(Luke 23:46).

Jesus' trust was well placed! “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9).

In the face of such dedication, where do we find an excuse for sin? When will the church open her eyes and see the grand deception of Satan? “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

“My God, My God, Why have You forsaken us?” My question, not Christ's. Therefore, I will provide the answer: Because we have believed the lies that we must acclimatize to our communities ... that we must do whatever it takes to attract sinners … that we must be like everyone else … that everyone must like us.

That wasn't the example of our Savior. He refused to sin. He rejected it completely. He preferred death on a cross to fellowship with Satan. He would not bow to peer pressure, and He certainly wasn't worried about social standing.

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

No one wants to suffer, but it is preferable to surrendering to sin.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul's response should be our response: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [10] Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”

Jesus did not submit to sin, but He submitted fully to His Father. We must so submit – not to the trials and temptations … not to the world and its works, but to “the author and perfecter of faith.”
“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Praise God for a real Shepherd ... a great Shepherd who wants to lead us away from sin, even through the valley of the shadow of death, to a permanent place "in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13)!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.