Forsaken?

Since Easter is fast approaching, I have been thinking a lot about the crucifixion. While Christ was on the cross, the Bible records 7 things that He said:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:42)
  2. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
  3. “Woman, behold, your son!”; “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27)
  4. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34)
  5. “I thirst.” (John 19:28)
  6. “It is finished” (John 19:30)
  7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)

Each of these statements were highly meaningful in one way or another. I want to look at one in particular.  Number 4 from the list.

I was always taught that the reason Christ would ask God why He had been forsaken was because God is not able to look at sin, and since Christ had the sins of every man imputed to Him, therefore, God turned away from Jesus. Habakkuk 1:13 says: “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”. I had never really considered it before, but to say that God could not look at Jesus because He represented the sin of all mankind is ludicrous. Sin is not God’s kryptonite! We cannot ward off God by sinning. The NAS translation of Hab. 1:13 says “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil” and the NLT renders the words “see” and “look” as “allow”. I think it is safe to say that God could not tolerate, allow, or approve of the sin represented in Christ. That is why He was being put to death, so He could redeem us from the punishment we deserve.

A good friend of mine and I were having a discussion concerning many different Biblical matters. He pointed out to me that Psalm 22 is a chilling account of the crucifixion, and it was written approximately 1000 years earlier!

Here are some prophetic verses from that Psalm:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (v. 1)

“All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’” (vv. 7–8)

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (vv. 14–18)

The Jews that came out to watch the crucifixion were well versed on all the scriptures. Surely, when Christ uttered the phrase “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Psalm 22 came to their minds. Christ was dying, and all these prophecies were being fulfilled right in front of everyone. He simply reminded them that this ancient scripture, which had been accepted as a prophecy of the Messiah, was unfolding before them. By uttering this phrase, Jesus was further confirming His claim of being the Messiah!

Instead of looking grimly at this phrase, and saying, “Poor Jesus, even His Father looked away and was not with Him,” simply realize that even while hanging on the cross, He was linking the Holy Scriptures to Himself so that we can believe. The Bible is all the proof we need that Jesus Christ is indeed the savior we need.

Please submit any comments concerning this.

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6 thoughts on “Forsaken?

  1. I thought this was really good. I always hated the thought that God could not look at Jesus because of sin. If that were true then God never sees us (think on that and how many Scriptures that would go against). Thanks for posting these.

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  2. I love it Todd! There are lots of misguided things that sprung from the “too holy to look at sin” theory, in my understanding. But just to further your post, friend:

    “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” John 16:32

    He is speaking of the moment of moments, which causes Him to sweat blood. And when everyone else scatters and leaves Him alone… yet He will never be alone, for the FATHER is with Him.

    “Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.” John 8:28

    Being lifted up refers to the crucifixion (see John 3, the comparison to the bronze serpent). Jesus says that in that moment they will know that He does nothing of Himself, and was acting in Oneness with the Father.

    The Habakkuk verse is really really interesting, too. If you read it in context, you’ll see that the “look away” theory is actually the opposite of what it’s saying. Habakkuk, as a prophet, has his eyes open to the problems of his day. And he makes his plea with God, according to God’s nature. When he says to God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” we MUST keep reading the verse… “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”

    What he’s actually saying to God is… “You are too good to look at evil AND do nothing about it!” He was never saying God isn’t watching/turning his eyes from evil. He was saying, “God, if I know you, you can’t sit still while people suffer, you have to do something. So why are you just watching this car wreck called humanity!?” Of course, God had a plan. The one and only Son taking sin upon His own body, dragging it to the grave, then stepping on the head of the serpent and death itself.

    The problem with the “too pure to look” idea isn’t just that it isn’t even what Habakkuk is saying… it’s that it makes the main problem that Jesus solves all about God being personally grossed out and offended at the sight of us. I mean, sin is disgusting and causes death. But God most certainly never lost sight of us. We lost sight of him. WE thought He ran from us, but it is we, who like sheep, have gone astray. He was never lost, we were. We hid behind fig leaves. But He followed us out of the garden, and led us through the desert. He led us in love toward the Promised Land, provided for us every day, and yet we asked the question, “why have you brought us out here to kill us? We had it better with the Egyptians!!” Blindness. We were like the kids who hid under all the blankets and wondered why Daddy turned out the lights.

    In fact, Jesus could have been taking on this very human condition when He invoked Psalm 22. “Why have You forsaken me??” This was the cry of humanity! It wasn’t true, it was a cry from behind the veil, or underneath the blankets, and a full reading of the 22nd Psalm will reveal that. Did Jesus experience the pangs of separation and sin like we did? Perhaps! But He also experienced the truth in that moment…

    The Psalm continues and resolves… v. 21 “You have answered Me.” Wow. That’s not forsaken at all. The turn around comes within this Psalm… “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; BUT when He cried to Him, He heard.” (v.24). When He cried to Him, He heard!! He has not hidden His face from Him!

    It could be that our ideas of a God who abandoned us comes crashing down in this moment. Jesus took on the whole world’s sin… and the Father never left Him or forsook Him. In fact, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” So where does that leave our God-blaming excuses for resisting His immense and limitless love? Dead in the grave.

    After Jesus pronounces the finished work, He then beautifully concludes this terrifying scene. “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.” At first He was crying “My GOD, why have You forsaken me?” Taking on the cry of humanity. But now He has moved from crying to a God far away to a very near Father. I submit He went through the whole Psalm 22, and heard the whisper of the Father, “Come away, My beloved.”

    No doubt sin’s bullying toward His creation has affected God. No doubt the Father of all creation looked down on those He loved and saw sin decaying us and destroying us, and was deeply affected. No doubt He has been disgusted with sin from the beginning. But I submit He was disgusted in the way A father looks at a his child who has been attacked by spiders, disgusted at the thing that came against his loved one and angry at what it did to his child.

    As Jesus walked the earth (and in Him we see the very nature of the Father), His gut-response was compassion stirred within, and He saw people were like sheep without a Shepherd. His response was not “ewww gross, I can’t look at them.” In fact, He looked them right in the eye and said, “Be healed. Be cleansed. Be forgiven.” He went to the worst. And if He did, the Father did, and the Holy Spirit did. Because they are One.

    Anyway, you got me thinking, Todd. He is a good, good Father. And I am glad this Easter, you brought that heart to light. I love you, and praise God we have such an amazing Love fighting for us!

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    1. Thank you, Jonah for your response! You have added a lot to think about. Thank you for bringing up the point about the Habakkuk verse being incomplete. I had intended to mention that myself. When people try to create theology off of half-thoughts instead of the whole thought as recorded in scripture, they are sure to err.

      Wow. You certainly did take us from the garden, to the wilderness, to the cross. That is one thing I really do appreciate about you, you tie multiple things from scripture together, and it makes sense. I also appreciate that the thought of a child being attacked by spiders is the example you used. Hmmm. Lingering memories from childhood?

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

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    2. I guess I’d come back around after lunch with the important distinction… of God utterly hating the sin that was so set on our destruction, and furiously loving His beloved children, simultaneously. I agree with Josh that His eyes have always been on us (my paraphrase–maybe I got that wrong). The whole of Scripture is based on God intently watching us and working things together according to His divine purposes.

      Jesus is the savior we need. Not only from punishment of death, but death itself. Jesus came to both a hopelessly guilty people and a hopelessly sick people, as Redeemer & Forgiver, and also Healer. He is our hope for everything!! Our wisdom, our sanctification, our righteousness, our LIFE! I think there’s so so so much more to the Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection of the Christ than merely wiping the legal slate clean (not denying the importance of legal forgiveness). But that, of course, would be a whole set of other posts, wouldn’t it Todd? 🙂

      Anyway, just some thoughts.

      Thank you for searching for His truths and being wiling to sort through them on here! Love you Todd!

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      1. The purpose of this blog is to create discussions about a variety of theological topics. I love all the insight you have provided. I look forward to hearing what all you think about the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection.

        I’d love to see your input on some of the other postings.

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