THE GOD-FORSAKEN CHRIST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, November 28, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).


When I preach on Sunday morning I usually speak to young people. I do this because there are always many young people at our church on Sunday morning who have never heard the gospel preached clearly. We have gone out to the malls and colleges and other places where young people gather, and we have invited you to come. And you did come, and I am thankful that you did. Thank you for coming.

But there is another reason that I speak to young people each Sunday morning. The second reason is because young people under the age of thirty are much more likely to experience salvation than those who are older. Every study and poll I have read reflects this. And my own experience shows it to be true. If a person is going to be saved, it usually happens between the ages of about sixteen and twenty-five. I realize that there are exceptions, but they are not many.

How can we explain this? One of the explanations is that young people are just beginning to realize that life is difficult and hard. You are just beginning to realize that you are mortal, that you will die. And you are just beginning to see that the world is a frightening and often lonely place. You haven't yet learned to cover up your fears with frenzied activity, and various diversions.

Young people are just at the beginning of life as an adult, and you are asking yourselves, "How can I live in such a cold, unloving and lonely world?" And so, I come back again and again to the theme of loneliness. Oh, I understand very well that the theme of loneliness doesn't appeal to every young person. I know that many of you have already learned how to use various tricks of frenzied activity and diversion to avoid thinking about loneliness. And I know that those who have learned those tricks will not pay much attention to my sermons. But I also know that there is a quiet boy and a thoughtful girl here and there who will go home and say, "That old man spoke to me today. I had better go back and listen to him preach again."

And it is to that thoughtful young man or woman that I speak this morning. My theme is loneliness - cold, hard, frightful, heartbreaking loneliness. It has never been better expressed, and never more fully felt, than it was when Jesus Christ cried out from the Cross,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

Picture Him in your mind's eye. They arrested Him while He was praying, alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. They stripped off His clothing and beat Him half to death. They pushed a crown of thorns down on His head. They jeered and laughed at Him as He dragged a Cross through the streets. They pounded nails through His hands and feet. They raised the Cross. His body hung there as they shouted words of scorn at Him. Finally, He cried out,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

I. First, who was this man Jesus?

He was no ordinary human being. The Bible says that God "gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). This man who cried out was the only begotten Son of God. Furthermore He spoke of

"the glory which I had with thee [God the Father] before the world was" (John 17:5).

This man who cried out from the Cross was Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the eternal Trinity. So united was He with God the Father that He said,

"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).

The unity of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son is from everlasting eternity past to everlasting eternity future. He is the Word of God.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1-3).

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us"
    (John 1:14).

Jesus came down from Heaven. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, lived on earth. But He remained united to God the Father throughout His earthly life. Even in dark Gethsemane, while the disciples slept, Jesus prayed and had fellowship with God the Father through prayer. Even as He was arrested and falsely tried, God was close to Him. And as they flogged Him and then crucified Him, He could still turn to God and pray,

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
    (Luke 23:34).

But now all was dark.

"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:45-46).

The darkness that fell on the earth in that terrible hour was a picture of the darkness that separated God the Son from God the Father for the first time. Never before had the Son of God been separated from His Heavenly Father, but now it was so. And in that darkened hour He cried,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

Who is this man? He is Jesus, the everlasting and only begotten Son of God - separated completely from His Heavenly Father for the first time ever.

II. Second, why did He cry out?

I am having great difficulty explaining this in a simple way to you. No wonder! These words of Christ are really beyond explanation. Spurgeon had the same difficulty. He said, of these words, that no one can fully understand them. Spurgeon said,

Martin Luther [the great leader of the Reformation] sat him down in his study to consider this text. Hour after hour that mighty man of God sat still; and those who waited on him came into the room, again and again, and he was so absorbed in his meditation that they almost thought he was a corpse. He moved neither hand nor foot, and neither ate nor drank; but sat with his eyes wide open, like one in a trance, thinking over these wondrous words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And when, after many long hours, in which he seemed lost to everything that went on around him, he rose from his chair, someone heard him say, "God forsaking God! No man can understand that;" and so he went his way. Though that is hardly the correct expression to use - I would hesitate to endorse it - yet I do not marvel that our text presented itself to the mind of Luther in that light. It is said that he looked like a man who had been down a deep mine, and who had come up again to the light. I feel more like one who has not been down the mine, but who has looked into it - or like one who has been part of the way down, and shuddered as he passed through the murky darkness, but who would not dare to go much lower for this cry ["My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"] is a tremendous deep; no man will ever be able to fathom it. So I am not going to try to explain it (C. H. Spurgeon, "The Saddest Cry From the Cross," The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1977, volume XLVIII, pp. 517-518).

I agree with Luther and Spurgeon that we can't fully understand how God the Father could "forsake" God the Son. I will not try to explain these words, but simply give a few thoughts about them.

Christ is speaking as a man here. He is fully God, but He is also fully man. This is the hypostatic union, and Christ is the God-man. But here He speaks as a man. Only a real man could say that He was forsaken by His God.

Christ was forsaken by God because we deserve to be forsaken by God. There on the Cross Christ took our place, and suffered for our sins.

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows"
    (Isaiah 53:4).

By the sin of our first parent, transmitted to us all, we were born and grew up cut off from God, God-forsaken, and alone; living our lives in loneliness, cut off from God, alienated from Him, by our sin natures and our actual sins.

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

Did you ever think that there must be a God? Did you ever wonder why God was not real to you? Here is the answer, from the Bible - God is not real to you because your spiritual understanding is "darkened," because of the "blindness" of your heart. That is why you are "alienated from the life of God." The perfect tense of the Greek verb emphasizes the continuing state. It does not mean that you once knew God. It means that you have never known Him, and still do not know Him. You are in a continuing state of estrangement, cut off from God continually "because of the blindness of [your] heart" (cf. Dr. Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 533).

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to bring you into union with God.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).

Christ died on the Cross to "bring us to God," to take away our alienation by our sin natures and our actual sins, and bring us into communion with God. In order to do that Christ had to bear our "griefs" and carry our "sorrows" on the Cross.

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows"
    (Isaiah 53:4).

As an unconverted sinner, you are left alone in the world. You feel it. You sense that there is something wrong. Young people are the ones most apt to sense their loneliness, their God-forsakenness, in a dark and often frightening world. And that is why God so often converts people in their youth. When you get older you will learn to drown this empty, lonely feeling in drugs, or alcohol, or sexual encounters, or in making money, or in living out your "game plan" to "success." And when you have learned to use one of these "tricks" to escape from feeling empty and alone, it will be too late for you to be saved.

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28).

But this morning, while you are still young, God is speaking to you. It is through your feelings of loneliness that God calls to you, that God speaks to your heart. Hear, then, the words of Jesus as He dies on the Cross,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

These are words that especially touch you while you are still young. God the Son suffered separation from God the Father to atone for your separation from Him. You travelled far from God - and Christ paid the penalty for your sin! You forgot about God - and Christ paid the penalty for your sin! You missed church Sunday after Sunday to do light and sinful things - and Christ paid the penalty for your sin! You came to church, but only "mouthed" the words, never thinking of God - and Christ paid the penalty for your sin! Christ paid the penalty for your godlessness on the Cross! What a horrible price he paid!

They stripped off His clothes and beat Him half to death. They nailed His hands and feet to a Cross. The darkness fell. The wrath of God came down on Him,

"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief"
    (Isaiah 53:10).

God punished Christ vicariously, in your place, for your sins. And so at last comes the worst punishment of all. God forsakes His Son and turns away into the darkness. And Christ the Son bears your sin alone upon the Cross.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

That awesome and horrible questioning cry is answered, by the Apostle Peter, when he said,

"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just [Him] for the unjust [you], that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).

You forsook God, and Jesus paid for your sin by being forsaken by God, Himself - in your place, nailed to the Cross, alone, and separated from God the Father, whom He loved with all His soul.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood,
Exposed to death and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A prodigy of injured love!

Hark how His doleful cries affright
Affected angels, while they view;
His friends forsook Him in the night,
And now His God forsakes Him too!
    ("His Passion" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

We have thought about only a little of the mystery in Christ's words,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

But I hope that you have heard enough to know that Jesus died to pay for your sins, and that He has risen, yes, to the right hand of God in Heaven. I hope you have heard enough to see that your only hope lies in Christ - for there is no other solid hope. I pray that you will come directly to Christ and receive Him and be washed clean from your sin by His eternal Blood - for there is no other salvation, on earth or in eternity. Amen.


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 27:35-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"His Passion" (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOD-FORSAKEN CHRIST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

I.   Who was this man Jesus? John 3:16; 17:5; 10:30; 1:1-3, 14;
Luke 23:34; Matthew 27:45-46.

II.  Why did He cry out? Isaiah 53:4; Ephesians 4:18; I Peter 3:18;
Romans 1:28; Isaiah 53:10.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."