Many of us know the pain of abandonment and rejection. Yet Jesus Himself faced the silence of God in a way we cannot fully understand. Pastor Lutzer contemplates the amazing love of God at the most excruciating moment in all of time. How could Jesus’ death in our place accomplish God’s plan of reconciliation?
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” Thank you again for joining us. If you’ve been with us, you know that we are studying the “Cries from the Cross: A Journey into the Heart of Jesus.” I hope that you’ve been blessed and encouraged. I hope that you subscribe, follow, and share as we continue this journey, trying to grasp as far as we can and as deeply as we can into the wonder of the cross. Last time we began our discussion on the middle word of the cross, the middle saying that Jesus gave when He cried out, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” And we’re going to pick it up and continue our discussion of that remarkable statement, that remarkable question.
First of all, the wonder of the silence. You know, you can go back of course 2,000 years before that during the time of Abraham. He is offering up Isaac on the altar, and willing to, and suddenly a voice comes out of heaven and tells him “Abraham!” and then you know the rest of the story. Abraham was prevented from doing that. But Jesus cries out to a silent heaven. There is no voice that comes to Him. He is utterly forsaken. Now that word forsaken is a powerful word. We think, for example, of a man forsaking his wife or a father forsaking his children. But imagine being forsaken by God. Because Jesus Christ becomes legally guilty of the sins of all who would eventually believe on Him and be saved. There on the cross, if we are believers, you and I have been redeemed. And Jesus bore what we deserved. He got what He didn’t deserve, namely our sin; we get what we don’t deserve, namely His righteousness. So Jesus hangs there, abandoned, not just in physical pain but spiritual pain, anguish that we can never possibly understand. But also we think, for example, of the fact that holiness required this. We have forgotten in our generation that God is completely holy. And therefore justice had to be satisfied. Nahum the prophet said in chapter one, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the heat of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by Him.” Jesus bore that on our behalf.
The wonder of the silence but also the wonder of the human heart. The soldiers are there and they are gambling. They do not understand what is happening when Jesus Christ died but they must have been quite terrified when darkness came upon the face of the earth and as a result they perhaps believed later. But the point is this: When you and I linger at Calvary, we have to remember that it is there that Jesus endured what we cannot fully understand. We can only probe it. We can talk about it. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And the good news is this that Jesus was forsaken by the Father so that you and I would never be forsaken by the Father. He took our place. He died where we should have died, bearing our sin.
Let me ask you a question. Do you sing the song “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood?” Do you remember how it ends? “Amazing love, how can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?” I know some theologians who don’t sing it. And they don’t sing it because they say it gives the impression that God the Father died. We know that God the Father is not the One that was nailed to the cross. It was God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. But I sing that song and I love it. And for me it is a means of worship. Because when I say, “Thou my God shouldst die for me” I’m thinking of God the Son.
Now you’ve heard me say this before but this generation needs to hear this. You need to share this with young people. Because they go on the internet and they say, “You know, Christianity is like other religions because other religions also need a blood sacrifice.” Yes, but only in Christianity does God become the sacrifice. God was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. And because Jesus was abandoned, as I already mentioned, you and I, if we believe, will never be abandoned. Let’s meditate, let’s worship, and as for today, you just go with God.