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THE GOD-FORSAKEN SAVIOUR

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 1, 2012

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).


After rising from prayer in the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was confronted by “a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees.” They came “with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:3). They bound Jesus and led Him away to the high priest, “where the scribes and the elders were assembled” (Matthew 26:57). They accused Jesus of blasphemy. Then they spit in His face, hit Him with their fists, slapped Him with the palms of their hands, and tore swatches of hair out of His beard (Isaiah 50:6).

The following morning the chief priests and elders decided to put Jesus to death. They bound Him again and took Him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate questioned Him. Then Pilate said to the multitude, “What shall I do...with Jesus which is called Christ?” The people cried out, “Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22). Pilate washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person” (Matthew 27:24). Then Pilate had Jesus scourged and delivered Him to be crucified. The Roman soldiers put a scarlet red robe on Jesus’ bleeding body. They wove a crown of thorns and pressed it down on His head. They put a staff in His right hand, “and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29). They spit on Him and took the staff and struck Him on the head with it. And after they had mocked Him they took off the robe, put His own clothing on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

There was no crown for Him of silver or of gold,
   There was no diadem for Him to hold;
But blood adorned His brow and proud its stain He bore,
   And sinners gave to Him the crown He wore.
A rugged cross became His throne,
   His kingdom was in hearts alone;
He wrote His love in crimson red,
   And wore the thorns upon His head.
(“A Crown of Thorns” by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).

Jesus went out bearing His cross. He fell again and again under its weight. At last the soldiers compelled a man named Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. When they came to Golgotha they offered Him a drink of sour wine, which He refused. The soldiers nailed His hands and feet to the cross, lifted it into an upright position, “and sitting down they watched him there” (Matthew 27:36).

They put a sign over His head, nailed to the cross, which said, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two thieves were also crucified with Him, one on His right side and one on His left. Those who passed by the cross shouted insults at Him saying, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). The chief priests also mocked Him saying, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42).

He did not reign upon a throne of ivory,
   He died upon the cross of Calvary;
For sinners there He counted all He owned but loss,
   And He surveyed His kingdom from a cross.
A rugged cross became His throne,
   His kingdom was in hearts alone;
He wrote His love in crimson red,
   And wore the thorns upon His head.

Jesus was crucified at nine in the morning. At twelve noon a darkness fell over the land until 3:00 in the afternoon. And about 3:00 PM Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). “A rugged cross became His throne.” Sing it!

A rugged cross became His throne,
   His kingdom was in hearts alone;
He wrote His love in crimson red,
   And wore the thorns upon His head.

Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” His cry from the cross shows three things.

I. First, Jesus’ cry from the cross fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy.

In Psalm 22:1 David said,

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).

Jesus deliberately fulfilled this verse of Scripture. Psalm 22 gives 15 points that were fulfilled when Jesus was on the cross. This led several writers in the early church to call Psalm 22, “the fifth gospel.” Psalm 22:18 says, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” This is exactly what the soldiers did with Christ’s garments at the foot of the cross. Psalm 22:16 says, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” The Hebrew word signifies “to dig, pierce, or make hollow” (John Gill). Zechariah 12:10 says, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” The Hebrew word there means “to stab, pierce, thrust through” (Strong). The Scofield Study Bible says,

Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The bones (of the hands, arms, shoulders, and pelvis) out of joint (v. 14); the profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering (v. 14); the action of the heart affected (v. 14); strength exhausted, and extreme thirst (v. 15); the hands and feet pierced (v. 16); partial nudity with the hurt to modesty (v. 17), are all incidental to that mode of death. The accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ. The desolate cry of verse 1 (Matt. 27:46); the periods of light and darkness of verse 2 (Matt. 27:45)...the casting lots of verse 18 (Matt. 27:35), all were literally fulfilled. When it is remembered that crucifixion was a Roman, not Jewish, form of execution, the proof of inspiration is irresistible (The Scofield Study Bible, p. 608; note on Psalm 22).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

Psalm 22 is an amazing prophetic description of the future crucifixion of God’s Son. This psalm was written 1000 years before its fulfillment and describes in graphic detail the sufferings of Christ, long before the method of crucifixion was known... (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishers, 1995 edition, p. 608; note on Psalm 22:1).

Dr. John R. Rice listed one Old Testament prophecy after the other that were fulfilled when Jesus was crucified. He said, “It is impossible that these fulfillments were accidental. Thus we have overwhelming proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures and of the deity of Christ (Luke 24:25-27). Only a fool would disbelieve. Since God gave special emphasis to the prophecy fulfilled in our text...we see that it is the heart of God’s plan” (John R. Rice, D.D., The Bible Garden, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1982, p. 31).

II. Second, Jesus’ cry from the cross in some measure pictures a sinner in Hell.

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

Please note that I do not believe Jesus went to Hell, as Dr. Frederick K. Price wrongly teaches. There is no Scripture that says Jesus “suffered for our sins in Hell,” as Dr. Price has said.

But I agree with Dr. John R. Rice that Jesus’ agonizing cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” is a picture of the suffering of sinners in Hell. Dr. Rice said,

We believe that the sufferings of Christ on the cross in some measure picture the sufferings in Hell. On the cross Jesus cried out, “I thirst,” just as the rich man in Hell thirsted (Luke 16:24). Can you not imagine the rich man crying out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Hell is real. Sin must bring torment, real physical suffering...separation from God. Sinners in Hell will still be blinded, still be wicked, still will ask, “Why?” (I Corinthians 2:14). Judas, in his tormented mind, knew that he had betrayed innocent blood (Matt. 27:4), but would not turn from his sins (Rice, ibid., pp. 31, 32).

So, Jesus’ cry from the cross in some sense pictures the cry of sinners in Hell,

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

There is no hope for anyone who goes to Hell. Jesus told us what happens to unsaved people when they die. He will say to them,

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire”
      (Matthew 25:41).

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”
      (Mark 9:44).

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments”
       (Luke 16:23).

The torments Jesus went through on the cross will go on and on forever, to those who refuse to trust Christ. They will be tormented endlessly in “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). It seems that they will cry out endlessly, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Yes, we believe that the sufferings of Christ on the cross in some measure picture the sufferings of lost sinners in Hell. That is why we plead with you to trust Christ and be saved from your sins now, before it is everlastingly too late.

III. Third, Jesus’ cry from the cross shows that He died to pay for man’s sin.

“Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

There is much about His cry that it is difficult to understand. I remember reading somewhere that Luther sat in his study for days, without eating or moving, trying to fathom the Saviour’s cry. He finally realized that he could not humanly understand how the Father and the Son were separated. How could the First Person of the Trinity forsake the Second Person? He finally gave up trying, and went out of his room to eat dinner with his wife and children. The great mystery of the Saviour’s cry was spoken of by the Puritan commentator John Trapp (1601-1669), who said, “As man, he cries out ‘My God, my God [why hast thou forsaken me],’ when as God, he provided paradise to the penitent thief” (John Trapp, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Transki Publications, 1997 reprint, volume V, p. 276; note on Matthew 27:46).

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski (1864-1936) said, “With his dying powers he cries to God and no longer sees in him the Father, for a wall of separation has risen between the Father and the Son, namely the world’s sin and its curse as they now lie upon the Son. Jesus thirsts for God, but God has removed himself. It is not the Son that has left the Father, but the Father the Son. The Son cries for God, and God makes no reply to him... The nearest we can hope to come toward penetrating this mystery is to think of Jesus as being covered with the world’s sin and curse and that, when God saw Jesus thus, he turned away from him. The Son of God bore our sin and its curse...That is why Jesus cried ‘my God’ and not ‘my Father.’ But the possessive [‘my’] is important. Even though God turned from him and left him, he cried to him and clings to him as his God. Here the divine perfection of Jesus appears. He is the Lamb without blemish although he was made sin and a curse in the hour of his sacrifice” (R. C. H. Lenski, Ph.D., The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1964 edition, pp. 1119-1120).

Dr. Rice said, “In some wonderful way, then, Jesus Christ bore the sins of the world and suffered as a sinner” (Rice, ibid., p. 31). The Apostle Paul said,

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”
       (I Corinthians 15:3).

The Apostle Peter said,

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24).

Jesus died in our place, to pay the penalty for our sins, “being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus loved us so much that He died on the cross to save us from sin and Hell. Such love demands our faith and love to Him. Dr. Watts said, “Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” Turn to Jesus and trust Him. He will save you from the penalty of sin.

He did not reign upon a throne of ivory,
   He died upon the cross of Calvary;
For sinners there He counted all He owned but loss,
   And He surveyed His kingdom from a cross.
A rugged cross became His throne,
   His kingdom was in hearts alone;
He wrote His love in crimson red,
   And wore the thorns upon His head.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 15:24-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Crown of Thorns” (by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOD-FORSAKEN SAVIOUR

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

(John 18:3; Matthew 26:57; Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:22, 24, 29, 36, 40, 42)

I.   First, Jesus’ cry from the cross fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy,
Psalm 22:1, 18, 16; Zechariah 12:10.

II.  Second, Jesus’ cry from the cross in some measure pictures
a sinner in Hell, Luke 16:24; I Corinthians 2:14; Matthew 27:4;
Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:44; Luke 16:23.

III. Third, Jesus’ cry from the cross shows that He died to pay
for man’s sin, I Corinthians 15:3; I Peter 2:24; Galatians 3:13.