(Photo: Harvest Ministries)
Last weekend we looked at Jesus in Gethsemane. Today we look at Jesus on the cross.
On the cross, Jesus gave seven statements-each one significant and necessary. One of the most arresting is "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" No fiction writer would have his hero say words like those. They surprise us, disarm us, and cause us to wonder what He meant. In many ways, this is virtually impossible to fathom.
No man has ever experienced loneliness and isolation as Jesus did at this point. First Judas betrayed Him, but His other disciples still stood with Him-until Gethsemane; then they too fled. But Simon Peter was still following, albeit at a distance. Then he too turned away from the Lord, openly denying Him.
But there was still the Father, who was always there. In John 8:29 Jesus said, "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone." Jesus said to His disciples, "Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet, I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (John 16:32).
But at the cross, God the Father turned away His face from God the Son. Why? Because God, in all His holiness, could not look at sin. So holy is God that we are told that He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness" (Habakkuk 1:13).
So the holy Father had to "turn His face" and pour His wrath upon His own Son. Understand, for Jesus that was the greatest sacrifice He could have possibly made. It is my belief that His greatest pain occurred at this moment.
He felt forsaken of God because this is the consequence of sin. For a person to be forsaken of God is the penalty which naturally and inevitably follows separation from God because of sin. Jesus was forsaken of God so I don't have to be. Jesus was forsaken that I might be forgiven. Jesus entered the darkness that I might walk in the light! Jesus was forsaken of God for a time that I might enjoy His presence forever!
As Christ hung there, he was bearing the sins of the world, dying as a substitute. To Him was imputed the guilt of our sins, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on our behalf. The very essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God's wrath against sinners.
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4–5).