Jesus From the Cross: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

Spotlight on Scripture — March 22, 2020
Salem Lutheran Church
Shell Lake, Wisconsin
By: Rev. Susan Odegard

Jesus From the Cross: ‘My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?’

Gospel Text: Mark 15: 33-34
‘When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in afternoon. At 3 o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice: ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

In the weeks of March, we at Salem Lutheran Church have been looking at the seven last words spoken from the Cross by Jesus, our Savior. The text above is the fourth thing Jesus said – after granting forgiveness to those who persecuted Him, as well as the penitent thief crucified near Him, he also asked His beloved disciple, John, to care for his mother, Mary, and vice versa.

Today we enter a new phase – words recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15: reflecting the extreme physical pain that Jesus endured on our behalf at the Cross of Calvary.

Such words of extreme grief have not been uttered since those we have just heard coming from the lips of our dying Savior.

Heavy with pain, grief and sorrow, Jesus calls to His Father – ‘Where are You?’ ‘You promised to be with Me, but I am so very alone.’

Every time we read or hear these words, we want to turn away – For surely, He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows.

To the bitter end.

But as we know – this is decisively NOT the end. Resurrection hope awaits us.
Please listen to these words that were penned by the writer of Psalm 2.
‘I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me: ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.”

‘Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the Earth your possession.’ (Echoes God’s promise to Abraham)

Happy are all who take refuge in God – those words ring especially true in the trying times we are facing together in this current medical crisis.

A central concept in the psalms is that humans can take refuge in God during times of danger. Here we see they are to cling to God in times of trouble, to trust in God’s protection and seek to follow His way.

The symbolic image this portrays is one of a large bird spreading its wings in protection. Surely the entire host of heavenly angels was dispatched to the Cross of Calvary as our Savior gave His life on our behalf.

Likewise, the writer of Psalm 5 gives a similar message:

‘Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I pray.’ ‘O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to You, and watch.’

Clearly, that is EXACTLY what God was doing as He watched His beloved Son writhe in pain from the cross – evil was being destroyed and Satan was being dethroned on the face of the Earth.

And then follows these statements of abundant truth and the promise of a new tomorrow by the psalmist:

‘But I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house, I will bow down toward Your holy temple in awe of You.’

‘Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction; their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.’

‘But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, so that those who love Your name may exult in You. For You bless the righteous, O Lord; You cover them with favor as with a shield.’

There is the image of God’s wings, and with it, the promise of heaven awaits…
So it is that we turn to the prophetic words of King David as he penned the opening lines of Psalm 22 – there we find the same words that are to be uttered from the lips of our Lord as His broken body hangs from the cross at Calvary:

‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, from the words of My groaning?’

O My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.’

Indeed, we cannot leave this most painful cry hang unanswered.

And the answer can be found in the very next verses that David pens:
‘Yet, You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In You, O God, our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and You delivered them. To You they cried, and were saved; in You they trusted, and were not put to shame.’

Although Jesus was facing the most severe punishment, He still reigned Supreme. And as David wrote in his psalm, God’s people knew that He remembered His past deliverance of them and they could find hope in that truth.

Hope that leads to Eternal Life.

For all of us.

For all of time…echoes of victory… remember this…

‘As the women entered the tomb of Jesus when the Sabbath was over, they saw a young man, dressed in a
white robe, sitting on the right side where the body of Jesus had been laid; and they were alarmed.’

‘But he said to them: ‘Do not be troubled; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.’

‘He has been raised; He is not here…’

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love – nothing ……
Amen.