Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Out of the mouths of babes...

There are times when somebody's innocent question or comment has a way of clarifying our thoughts and positions.

One of the things that preachers have said (repeatedly) over the years that has bothered me is the description of the Father and Son relationship being severed as Jesus takes on the sin of a wicked world and dies on the cross. Jesus cries out in anguish (and in fulfillment of the Scriptures), "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" (Psalm 22:1, Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34)

In explaining this picture, I have often heard this description (or something similar):  The Father, unable to look on the sin that Jesus has become, literally turns His back on the Son.

I'll admit that part of what bugs me about this statement has nothing to do with theology and simply has to do with the misuse of the word literally. Since God doesn't really have the physical properties that we often assign to Him, the proper word to use here is figuratively, not literally. Sorry...pet peeve.

While the above description may serve to explain what is taking place, it doesn't take into consideration that both Father and Son know what is going to happen in the end. God (Father, Son and Spirit) knows that the substitutionary atonement of Jesus' death on the cross is necessary for our salvation and that the resurrection will soon follow. Jesus knew it and mentioned it on several occasions. He told his disciples that it had to happen. The Father knew it. God is omniscient. The Plan was never to forsake Jesus and leave him to suffer our eternal fate of condemnation. He would live again--for all eternity.

At the end of Sunday morning's service, I went back to a man that was visiting. Earlier, he had told me that he grew up in the Catholic church but hadn't been to a church in more than thirty years. I went back to thank him for coming and to let him know that if he had any questions, he should feel free to ask them. He responded by saying, "I do have a question."

His question forced me to to realize that I also had a problem with the above scenario. Why did God turn his back on Jesus? Why did Jesus think the Father had forsaken him? They knew what was going to happen, right?

One of the things that we tend to forget about Jesus is that aside from being divine, he was also fully human. While the Divine Son of God knew that he must face crucifixion, the man Jesus cried out for another way. The man Jesus understood that the will of the Father would be satisfied, but the dread of the physical suffering that he was about to endure was great.

Even though we talk about the pain that he endured, we tend to think of Jesus as God and not as a man. We tend to give him the strength of God and not the frailty of man. The scenes from the movie The Passion are brutal images of the scourging and the crucifixion. The suffering that he endured is unimaginable for us. The pain of the cross was so extreme that a we use a whole new word to describe it--excruciating.

Make no mistake about it; Jesus--the man--suffered greatly on the cross. Would he cry out as he faced the end? Would you? Would anybody? When we think of the brutality of the cross, we would also do well to remember that the pain, agony and death of the cross was ours to face--not His. The Bible tells us that He became sin for us. He took on our sin and gave us His righteousness. He died our death.

Yes, the plan from before time began was that He would be raised from the dead; that He would live.
Yes, Jesus knew it.
Yes, the Father knew it.
But in our sin, in our guilt, in our death; Jesus was alone.

Perhaps you have never considered that you are a sinner and eternally separated from God; that you can never be good enough or work hard enough to earn your salvation. Your guilt can only be satisfied in you dying the death that Jesus died--alone and eternally separated from God; or by accepting that He died for you. Accepting that He exchanged your sin for His righteousness. Jesus says that if we will repent--stop living for ourselves--and turn to Him, we will have eternal life.

If you need some information; if you have some questions of your own, please feel free to ask. You can comment with your question and ask to keep it private if you want. My e-mail and contact info can be found in the "about me" section to the right.

Remember, my reading friend:
God loves you.
Jesus died for you!

John <><


Duckbutt said...

Very interesting point, John.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I appreciate reading your very inspirational and hopeful message, John Hill.