Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Words From the Cross: Loneliness

Chuckle: Somebody asked me if I always wake up grouchy? I said, "No, sometimes I just let her sleep."
Quote: "He knows not his own strength who has not met adversity. Heaven prepares good people with crosses." –Unknown source

At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani," which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46 NIV).
When our pain threshold is exceeded, we go into a state of semi-conscious delirium where normal stimuli cannot reach us. We wonder how far Jesus, as a human, had gone toward his pain threshold when He cried out these words. But He was still conscious enough to reach back to Psalm 22:1 to express what He was feeling. By quoting this Psalm that pertained to God's purpose of redemption, He was giving witness that He was the Messiah. No doubt Jesus' physical agony was horrible beyond words, but even worse was the feeling of spiritual separation from his Father. Jesus suffered this double death to insure that you and I will never have to experience spiritual death with its eternal separation from God.
At Calvary, Jesus was traveling a lonely road in order to bring forgiveness to mankind. In our lives, there are also some duties we can share with others, but some must be faced alone. In Gethsemane Jesus had suffered just such an experience. There he prayed alone, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine" (Matthew 26:39 NLT). Now He was facing an even worse experience alone.
Of all the words Jesus spoke from the cross, these are the hardest to fully understand. Martin Luther said, "God forsaking God? No man can understand that." He was right, yet not completely right. For while "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19); and even though He "was come from God, and went to God" (John 13:3); He still died as a man. The early followers of Jesus were so touched by his cry of pain and loneliness, that they recorded it in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus spoke it.
Another difficulty in understanding Jesus' cry that God had forsaken him comes when we read his subsequent words from the cross as he entrusted (committed) his spirit into his Father's hands (Luke 23:46). It appears God did not totally forsake him; however, there is no doubt that as a man Jesus felt forsaken in his agony. Scripture teaches us that God is always watching over his own. Even in our darkest hours we have his promise of his presence with us. We all can remember experiences when we felt as if everyone had abandoned us -- maybe even God. But, one of the greatest heresies possible is to believe God forsakes his own. If you belong to God, he will be with you to the end! And we don't have to wait until we die to be in God's presence.
As a human being, Jesus suffered; a fact we must never forget. Although his Father was with him in times of loneliness and heartache, there came a time when Jesus had to pay the supreme sacrifice for human sin. No theologian can fully explain why it was necessary for Jesus to die in order for humans to live. But God willed that humans could only be saved from their sins by a divine sacrificial substitute -- and he had to do it alone as the once for all perfect sacrifice. Yet, Christ could have called on his Father "who will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels" (Matthew 26:53). "Nails Held Him there, but love made Him stay!" Jesus endured the agony, loneliness, and abandonment because of his love for you and me. What are we willing to endure because of our gratitude and love for Him?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

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