Forsaken [ fawr-sey-kuhn ]

Of all the words spoken by Jesus, His distressing cry to His Heavenly Father moments before His death intrigues me the most.  In Mark 15:34 we read that “At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  The word forsaken means exactly what it implies, deserted, abandoned, left alone.  I’ve wondered over these words for many years.  Partly because I know what it means but partly because it’s a theological mystery to me.

This is the moment Jesus has been dreading the most.  There are many heartaches that He experienced on His way to the Cross.  The betrayal, the rejection, the denial, the mockery, the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the crucifixion itself.  But of all the suffering that Jesus endured, this moment was the peak of His agony.

He lived His entire life, even from childhood, knowing that He was under the watchful eye of His Heavenly Father.  He was consciously aware of the Father’s love and presence throughout His whole life.  The harshest experience had not dulled His awareness of the Father’s care.  Until, that is, He cried out in pure agony, “Why have you forsaken me?”  This was His “God-forsaken curse.” 

A.T. Robertson says that “We are not able to enter into the fullness of the desolation felt by Jesus at this moment as the Father regarded Him as sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). This desolation was the deepest suffering. He did not cease to be the Son of God. That would be impossible.”

It’s precisely because He is the Son of God that this desolation was His deepest suffering.  We know that He always and only did what pleased and honoured His Father.  Even Pilate, upon examination of Jesus concluded that he “found no guilt in Him.”  As the beloved of the Father, this moment was the ultimate price to be paid as the Saviour of the world.

As the sin of the world was atoned, Jesus carried it away into the abyss of His isolation from the Father.  Christians believe in the “omnipresence” of God.  That simply means that He is everywhere present at all times.  It’s what David explained brought Him such peace in that famous Psalm (139).  God is present everywhere.  That means that there is nowhere that you can hide or run or be abandoned by God.

I have experienced enormous strength from the promise of Hebrews 13:5-6: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  Knowing the presence of God is with you is the ultimate experience of peace.  Nothing can touch it.  NOTHING.

I know that you are making the connection.  Jesus was forsaken by God at the cross so that we don’t EVER have to be!  He was separated from God at the moment He became sin for us, so that we can be restored, forever, to the sweet, satisfying presence of our Heavenly Father.  From the Garden of Eden until the Cross, a great gulf, an abyss, existed between God and man.

The God-forsaken abyss of our sin was fully absorbed by Jesus at the Cross.  Mark’s Gospel tells us that moments after His cry Jesus “breathed His last . . . and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”  His crushing, death inducing separation from God opened direct access into the presence of God.  The account was so moving that the Roman centurion blurted out, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

Jesus was forsaken so that you can enter the presence of God by the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus was forsaken so that you can live fully aware of the presence of God “all the days of your life.”  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Here we are Church family about to enter another “passion week.”  Can’t wait to worship the Lord with you on Sunday at the 9 or 11 AM service.  See you then, God willing,

Pastor Deric

Quiet “As A Rock”

Do you ever find it hard to keep quiet?  Do you feel the need to answer every objection or criticism?  Has Twitter become a place for you to “let off some steam”?  When others are shouting at you, can you find the strength to be silent?  When you feel overwhelmed by the “mob” mentality, do you know how to stay calm, focused and strong?
Mark tells us that Jesus was silent before the barrage of accusations from the scribes and priests so that Pilate was “amazed.”  Amazed at Jesus’ silence!  How long since you were amazed by someone NOT reacting in rage and retaliation.  Pilate was amazed that Jesus was able to remain calm, focused, and peaceful in such a blistering storm of false accusations.  Pilate knew the true motive of the priests who were calling for Jesus’ execution.  They were envious of His compelling life and teaching.  People were often amazed at the gracious words that Jesus spoke so much so that they would testify that “no one ever spoke like this man!”
Jesus is teaching us that silence is strength not weakness.  Ours is the shouting generation.  It’s common to witness the unleashing of a hot, but meaningless tirade of words.  In refusing to get entangled with His false witnesses, Jesus offered one of His greatest demonstrations of strength.  He is being a rock in a category 5 tornado of spiritual conflict.  Jesus didn’t allow others to direct His narrative.  Most of us end up mindlessly following the mob rant, parroting what is popular and what others are saying. Not Jesus.  He chose silence in this moment, teaching us the importance of knowing when to speak and when to be quiet.  
Let’s face it.  We talk too much.  We say too much.  We need to learn to be silent more often.  It’s interesting that the wise King Solomon wrote that with too many words sin is not lacking.

          18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.

      19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

      20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

      21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

In other words, you can sin by talking too much.  So, the next time you feel like spouting off because of the insane rhetoric of our day, think twice before you speak.  Of course, I’m not saying that you should not speak up against injustice, sin, and evil.  The same wise old king (Solomon) said that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  What I’m saying is that you need to make sure that you are inhabited by the same peace that controlled the mind and heart of Jesus.  Think before you speak is still a good policy.  And when you do speak do so peacefully. 
Standing on the Rock with you,
Pastor Deric