“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
As Jesus entered into the darkest hours of his life, he cried out: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” The words are Aramaic. This was the people’s common language at that time. Matthew honors these pain-filled words by recording them just as Jesus spoke them, and then by translating them for his readers. These words are painful in any language! Jesus is surrounded by darkness and total separation from God. The sun had gone. The Father had turned away so that Jesus would bear the full punishment of sin and death in our place. Jesus had never experienced his Father this way. This was hell.
How could a father do this? How could God the Father do this to Jesus? Anguish, feelings of utter abandonment, forsakenness crushed his soul.
Had Jesus deserved this? We know better than that. So why did this happen? Because sin cannot stand in the presence of God. And because we are sinful, neither could we stand in God’s presence, unless someone paid the price of our sin for us. That’s what Jesus came to do. He came to suffer and die in our place so that we could be restored to full life in God’s presence. The Father turned away from Jesus, forsaking him, so that we will not be forsaken by God. And now for Jesus’ sake God separates us sinners from our sin, so that we can stand before him, free of all sin and impurity.
God of heaven and earth, sometimes we feel forsaken—even by you. Help us to remember the incredible work of Jesus, and that for his sake you declare us free of sin! Amen.
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