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Why Have You Forsaken Me?

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Sermon on Matthew 27.46

Title:  Why Have You Forsaken Me

Theme:  God abandoned Christ for the sake of us

Goal:  to encourage Christians that God abandoned Christ for our sake.

Need:  We have sinned and need salvation.

Outline for the sermon

1.      Introduction

2.     Abandoned by a Father.

3.     Abandoned by God.

4.     Abandoned for Nothing.

5.     Abandoned for Everything.

6.     Conclusion

Congregation,

          Jesus hangs on the cross already in the passage we are looking at this Good Friday.  For weeks we have been hearing these important questions that are asked by Jesus or others in the week leading up to this moment on the cross.  Last week we looked at the passage of Jesus going into the city, being celebrated.  The people of the city were wondering that very important question: who is this?  The people knew it was the saviour that was promised. 

          But look at him now.  He’s been betrayed, flogged like a criminal.  Now he’s been suffocating to death while hanging on a cross.  He’s probably been hanging on the cross since early afternoon.  Hours of suffocating to death.  What’s the deal people?  What happened in a week?  How could a whole group of people turn away so quickly and completely abandon him?

          Some of us might know what it feels like to be stabbed in the back by people we thought were our friends.  What did it feel like for you?

          The question Christ asks is, My God, My God why have you forsaken me?  Not, why God did the people do this to me?  Not, why God did my opinion polls tank this past week?  Not, why God, when I have so many more people to heal and preach to and encourage and feed?  What Christ is experiencing on the cross is so much deeper than that.  He is being abandoned in the deepest way.

          First, we hear that Christ is being abandoned by a Father.  His father in heaven.  You notice the words that he uses in this question.  Christ used to call God his Heavenly Father.  Just the night before in the garden of Gethsemane with when he goes to pray with his disciples, he calls God Daddy.  He says Abba Father.  Could anyone have a closer relationship with God than Jesus?  He calls God daddy.

          Its not Daddy here.  Its not Father here.  It is God. 

          I had a friend who had a real bad relationship with his dad for a long time.  I hardly ever heard him call his dad, dad.  It was always, John.  Is Jesus’ relationship with his Father going through the same sort of struggle?  Daddy.  No.  Father.  No.  Its the title now.  God.  It is the same struggle.  And then some.

          Second we hear that Christ is being abandoned by God.  The creator and provider for everything in the universe.  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  The weight of that must be unimaginable.  For a moment for yourself, try to feel what Jesus must have felt.  Take away your friends.  Take away your fans.  Take away your chance at living.  Then, when all you have left is God who created you.  Then replace that love with darkness.  Abandonment.

          There’s a reason why it went dark for 3 hours before Christ’s last breath.  I doubt this is some sort of natural darkness like a solar eclipse.  Eclipses last only a few minutes and don’t really bring real darkness.  From noon until 3 o’clock, the 6th to the 9th hour.  This is the darkness of God’s judgement.  This darkness shows God will have nothing to do with Jesus.  God is the only one worth relying on in life.  He’s the only hope a person has when they are approaching death.  And he leaves Jesus by himself.  Some people even say that this is the hell that Jesus descended into.  Hell is absence of God.  Abandoned by God:  That is where Jesus is at.

          Abandoned by a Father.  Abandoned by God the allpowerful creator.  But what is the answer to Jesus question?  My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?  FOR Jesus to be abandoned by God, he must have done something awful.  Why else would the loving God who created the universe abandon his only son?

          Well, looking at his life, he did things the misguided Jewish leaders told the people they couldn’t do, like go through a field on the Sabbath and eat some of the grain for yourself.  That’s breaking the Sabbath day.  Not just that, he healed some one on the Sabbath Day.  Can you believe this guys audacity?  And he claimed that he was God’s Son, the very same divine nature as God in heaven.  That is blaspheme. 

You can almost hear the Pharisees during this darkness saying, see... We told you he was from the devil.  Look how dark it is.  This is how God finishes off those he doesn’t like.  Judgment on the sinner.  Listen.  He feels it.  My God, My God why have you forsaken me?  The Pharisees have the answer, because you are a sinful sinful man who God doesn’t want to be anywhere near.

          They were the only ones thinking that way.  Look at the people around him.  Judas who betrayed him hangs himself because he says he knows he betrayed innocent blood.  Pilate, the one who sent him to the cross, declared him an innocent man. And Scripture says it about him over and over again.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “god made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  1 Peter 2:22 says, “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

          Why have you forsaken me?  Why?  Jesus is forsaken for NOTHING that he’s done.

          That’s the key.  That’s the heart of everything that happened today so many years ago.  My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  Christ was forsaken, for our sake.  He was abandoned so that we could be welcomed.  That passage in 2 Corinthians 5 said he wasn’t sinful, but as he hung on the cross, he became sin for us.  The sky went dark with God’s wrath and sorrow and grief, not be cause he was sorry what his son had done.  He was furious with all the evil in the world that we have done.  He was disappointed with the way human beings mess up the world.

          That’s at least part of the answer isn’t it?  My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  It is because I didn’t want to forsake the rest of them.  You will bear the burden of my wrath so that they don’t have to bear those burdens.  I am going to abandon you, Jesus, my son, so that I can adopt the rest of them and love them and cherish them.  I am letting you be the sacrifice for them.  If I abandon you today, they will have a place to belong for all eternity.  If I abandon you for these moments on the cross, then they will never have to feel abandoned.  They will always have a place to go with their burdens. 

          As we go through the shadows of darkness tonight, hear Christ’s question still.  My God, My God why have you forsaken me?  Then ask yourself, could I have deserved this sort of love?  Could I have done something to make it happen differently for Christ?  Could there have been a better way for God to be the loving but just God of everyone?  Could Good Friday have been any better in than the way that it actually happened?

          Then, ask yourself, have I taken full advantage of the unburdening grace of God through his abandonment of our sin placed on Christ?  Have I taken the burden of sin and acknowledge that Christ took that away from me?  Am I bearing the burden a second time that isn’t mine to bear any more?  If Jesus was abandoned by God for US could I possibly do it better on my own? 

          Those burdens, you may have created it.  You may be carrying it.  But its not yours to carry any more.  It belongs to Jesus.  Let Jesus take it to the grave with him.  Don’t take it to the grave with you.  Feel the weight of your burden.  Tonight.  And leave it at the cross.  Don’t pick it up again.

          And remember the promise when things are getting heavy.  Hebrews 13, God has said, Never will I leave you or forsake you.  Thank you Lord, Jesus Christ.

All God’s People say,  AMEN        

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