From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani – which means, “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 45 – 46
Today is Good Friday. It is the day we remember and celebrate Christ dying on the cross. How can death bring celebration? We can do so because we know what is to come. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior assures us that we too will be resurrected to a new life. He overcame death and through Him, we can have joy on Easter Sunday and live with the assurance of His divine forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the gift of eternal life.
One of the most heartbreaking questions ever asked was this one by Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The anguish Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross seems inconceivable to us. His body had already been so weakened by the public scourging, or beating (with a leather-thronged whip which had tiny pieces of iron and bone chips tied to the ends of each throng which cut and bruised His skin), by the strike on His head with a staff, by the prickly crown of thorns that was placed on his head, by the lack of sleep and nutrition, and by the stake like nails that were driven through his wrist and ankles, fastening Him to the cross. He was mocked, spit on, and stripped naked. Because of his weakened state, it is believed that he survived only a few agonizing hours. John records His last words to be, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Our Savior and Lord had finished what His Father sent Him to do.
Many of us have probably had those times when life seemed so unbearable, we felt completely alone, and we wondered if God had abandoned us. Jesus, in human flesh, hanging on the cross, suffering and dying, was no different. He knew there would be suffering, and He was ready and willing to endure it for us, but yet, weakened, and in pain, He called out to the One who loved Him most. He gave in to His Father’s will with strong resolve, was obedient unto Him, and cried out to Him in faith. The physical pain weighed with the emotional pain must have seemed unbearable.
For in that brief time, the Son must have felt as if He had to bear the cross alone to atone for our sins. What a burden to bear. Yet, in Deuteronomy 31:6, we have this promise: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
We can have the assurance that when Jesus asked the question of “why”, God was with Him, and He felt the pain of His Son’s agony on the cross. Our God was there on the hill at Calvary with Him, and we can only imagine the reunion that was to come as He welcomes His Son back into His loving presence.
What a lesson for us, when we feel forsaken by God. We too, like Christ, can cry out to Him in prayer and in faith, and believe He will come to us with His love and mercy. For we have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We, too, can have the assurance that His loving presence will always be with us now and forevermore.
Dear God, how do we begin to thank you for the gift of your Son on the cross? He bore our sins and gave us life. Thank you for never forsaking us, always loving us, and gracing us with your presence now and forevermore. Amen.