Statistics
1471 sermons as of November 19, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:My God: Why?
Text:Matthew 27:46 (View)
Occasion:Easter (Good Friday)
Topic:Christ's Suffering
 
Preached:2014-04-18
Added:2014-04-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs from 2010 Book of Praise.

Bible translation:  NKJV

Hymn 23:1,2,3

Hymn 2

Psalm 22:1,3,6

Psalm 42:7

Psalm 16:1,5

 

Read:  Psalm 22; Matthew 27:32-50

Text: Matthew 27:46

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word “forsaken” is a very sad word.  It is terrible to feel left alone, rejected.

To be abandoned by your friends, your husband, your wife, or a child, to end up all alone is a hard place to be. 

It is a sad place to be.  It is a lonely place to be.  God created us to belong.  He created us to be a community.  He created us to live together.  But even more than that:  He created us to belong to Him, to enjoy communion with Him.

But there are times when we may feel so depressed and so alone that we do not even feel the closeness of God.  King David felt like that in Psalm 22.  In Psalm 23, that well-loved psalm of “The Lord is my shepherd” it was different.  In Psalm 23 he could say with great conviction “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me”. (Psalm 23:4),  But in Psalm 22 his cry was one of distress and of great anguish.  Psalm 22:1,2 –

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.”

Where are You, God?  Why have You left me all alone?  Why have You forsaken me?

But Psalm 22 is more than the cry of David:  it is the cry of our Lord Jesus Christ!  We can not read Psalm 22 without thinking so much about the suffering of David as about the sufferings of Christ.  Psalm 22 describes the suffering of one who suffered far worse than David himself ever suffered.  As one person wrote, Psalm 22 “is not a description of illness, but of an execution.”  And not just any execution: it clearly describes the execution of Christ on the cross.  And so it was that in the hour of his most deepest anguish that our Lord Jesus turned to the words of Psalm 22 to give words to the depths of His unspeakable anguish, pain, terror and agony.  Following three hours of darkness, He cried out with a loud voice saying,

“Eli Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Why, Lord?  Why has this happened?  Why?  My God, why would You do this?  Why would You forsake the One of Whom You said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”?  Why would You abandon to hell the One who had come to do Your will?  My God, Why did You forsake Him?

And so I preach to you this morning under the following heading:

My God: Why?

  1. Christ’s Curse.
  2. Our Blessing.

1. Christ’s curse.

At the end of this church service, something special will be taking place.  After we sing the last song, we will all stand reverently to attention as the minister raises his hands and we receive the blessing of the LORD.  The blessing to be given is the blessing that we hear every Sunday, from Numbers 6:24-26.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

These are beautiful words and the fact that we may hear them every week makes them no less special.  “The LORD bless you”, May He look on you with His grace and favor.  “The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you”, May He be like the sun to you, shining in all its brightness and in all its fullness, pouring out His love and grace upon you.  “The LORD lift up His countenance upon you” or as other Bible translations put it, “The LORD turn His face towards you” and give you peace.  With these words then, the LORD pronounces the fullness of His blessing upon us His children.  The LORD said further in Numbers 6:27,

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

He will bless them!  He will turn towards them and cause His face to shine upon them!  And He will give them His Name – they will belong to Him.

  And not only were the people of Israel privileged to enjoy such blessing – so may we!  We may live and walk in the blessing of the Lord, enjoying His presence always!  The Lord assures us in Hebrews 13:5 saying,

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

But the One who enjoyed perfect fellowship with the LORD, complete one-ness with Him was our Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone lived a perfect life, without sin and so He alone was worthy in and of Himself to live at the Father’s right hand, to be before His face.  And God the Father was pleased with Him.  When Christ was baptized, a voice came down from heaven saying,

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17)

And so in John 8:16 the Lord Jesus could say,

“. . .  I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.”

And even more, in John 1:1 says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Which was why the Lord Jesus could say in John 14:9,10

 “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?”

But now in Matthew 27 the Lord Jesus was crucified.  He suffered what must have been intense physical and emotional pain.  He had been scourged, stripped of his clothes, struck on the head, spat on the face, mocked, and had a crown of thorns pushed on His head.  He had been forced to carry His own cross until He was too exhausted to do so.  And then He was crucified.  Words can not describe the pain that our Lord went through, but Psalm 22 describes something of what it was like.   Verse 6-8,

“But I am a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people.  All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

And Psalm 22:14-18,

“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

  For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.  They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones.  They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

But it gets worse than this.  To be physically nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns rammed on your head might be one of the worst ways imaginable to die, but our Lord Jesus Christ was not the first to die on a cross.  In fact, His time on the cross was shorter than many others who died a similar death.  But it was not simply the physical suffering that Christ endured: even worse was that he was rejected not just by man but also by God!  What was different about Christ’s suffering and death on the cross was that God the Father turned His face away from Him; God the Father looked upon God the Son not with His blessing but with His curse! 

  Matthew 27:45 says,  “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.”

It was dark from the 6th hour until the 9th, from 12:00 noon until 3 in the afternoon.  For three hours in the middle of the day the light of day turned to the black of night, for three hours our Lord Jesus was left hanging there in the dark.  This was no ordinary darkness, no naturally occurring event,  Rather this darkness was a sign of the Lord turning His back on His Son.  This darkness was a sign of God’s judgment, a sign of His wrath.  When Christ was hanging on that cross the Lord did not bless Him, He did not cause His face to shine upon Him, He did not lift up His countenance upon Him.  Rather, when Christ hung on the cross during those three hours of darkness, the Father forsook Him.

Darkness was a sign of God’s judgment, a sign of His wrath.  In Exodus 10 the LORD sent darkness upon the land of Egypt, a darkness so great that it could be felt.  In Isaiah 13:9,10 the day of the Lord’s wrath was described as when

“. . . the sun will be darkened in its going forth and the moon will not cause its light to shine.”

In fact, when the LORD spoke of His coming wrath in Amos 8:9 He declared,

“’And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “that I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.’”

But more, since, as it says in 1 John 1:5,

“. . . God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”

darkness is used in the Bible as a sign of the Lord turning His face away from you.  Darkness is a description of living outside of the grace and peace of God, darkness is a description of hell.  Describing those who would and who would not believe in Him, our Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 8:11-12,

“And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This type of darkness, therefore, is the darkness of hell.  The darkness of the separation of the grace and the peace of God.  And it was this darkness that our Lord suffered for three hours while He hung on the cross. 

We do not know what hell is really like.  We can not fully imagine what it would be like to have the Lord turn His face away from us so that we see nothing of His grace and peace but only His wrath against sin.  And we most certainly can not fully comprehend what it was like for Christ, the Son of God, to suffer the pain of hell.  We can not comprehend what it was like for the Christ, the Perfect and sinless one, to take upon Himself the sin of the whole world – and have God’s wrath poured out in its fullness for all those sins.  But that was what our Lord was going through.  One person wrote,

“At this moment when Christ took upon Himself the sin of the world His figure on the cross was the most grotesque, most obscene mass of concentrated sin in the history of the world.” 

And so the Father looked upon His Son and in a very real way He did not see the One whom He loved, but He saw you, He saw me, that is, He saw your sin and my sin and the sin of the whole human race that was transferred from us to His only beloved Son.  And so God the Father turned His back on God the Son and in this way God the Son endured not the blessed favor of the Father but His curse.  And it was this that caused our Lord Jesus to suffer to the extent that He did as He hung on the cross.

For three hours He hung there, in the darkness.  For three hours, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 in the afternoon, the time of the evening sacrifice, He endured the burden of God’s wrath against sin.  For three hours He went through the depths of hell itself, yes, even while He was still alive in the flesh.  And then towards the end of those three hours of darkness He cried out with a loud voice,

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”  that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

O My God:  Why?

Some of those close by foolishly said,

“This man is calling for Elijah!”

He was not, of course, and they knew it.  Our Lord Jesus did not make this cry in dying gasps but with a loud voice.  No one – at least no one of the Jews who understood the language of the Jews with which Christ spoke – could have misunderstood Christ as if He was calling for Elijah.  Rather, He was crying out to God!  “Why Me, O God?  Why could this cup not pass from Me?  Why have You forsaken Me, your beloved Son, the One in Whom You are well pleased, Me, the One who alone is truly righteous, truly good, truly holy and therefore worthy to have Your face to shine upon Me?  O My God, Why?

 

But thanks be to God, this is one question that has an answer.  And the answer is this:  The Son of God was forsaken by the Father so that we sinners might not be forsaken by Him but accepted into His presence so that the Father’s face might shine upon us.  The answer to Christ’s cry of “Why have You forsaken Me?”  is therefore the mystery of the Gospel, it is what makes Good Friday good.  We will see this further in our second point.

 

2. Our Blessing.

The incredible answer to the question “Why have You forsaken Me?” is that God did this for us!  For us!  God the Father turned His back on His Son so that He might always turn His face towards us who believe!  As it says in the Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper,

“. . . He bore for us the wrath of God, under which we should have perished eternally. . . . He was bound so that he might free us from our sins.  He suffered countless insults so that we might never be put to shame.  Though innocent He was condemned to death so that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God.  He even let His blessed body be nailed to the cross so that He might cancel the bond which stood against us because of our sins.  By all this He has taken our curse upon Himself so that He might fill us with His blessing.  On the cross He humbled Himself, in body and soul, to the very deepest shame and anguish of hell.  Then He called out with a loud voice, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? so that we might be accepted by God and nevermore be forsaken by Him.”

So that we might be accepted by God and nevermore be forsaken by Him . . .  That is why He did it!  That is why He hung on the cross, why He remained there for the three hours of darkness.  That is why He – and He alone – literally went to hell and back.  He did it for us!

But our Lord did not stay on the cross forever.  When the three hours of darkness was over, the Father’s wrath against sin was satisfied. 

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit.”  (Matthew 27:50.)

And the cry that He gave is recorded in John 19:30 – “It is finished!”  It is finished!  There was nothing more to be done, nothing more to be paid.  Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, and He had born it to the end.  And thus by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.  (Lord’s Day 15.)  It is finished!  The debt has been paid.

And so there is nothing more for us to do but to go to Jesus Christ and to trust Him for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.  There is nothing more for us to do but to turn to Christ, to receive in Him all that is needed for our salvation so that we may live in the assurance of the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

When our Lord Jesus cried out, “My God My God, why have You forsaken Me?” the Father soon gave His answer and said, “It is enough.  It is finished.  The debt has been paid in full.  Today You will be with Me in Paradise.”

  The debt has been paid and in Christ our sins have been taken away.  And so now we may go on.  In Christ we have the confidence and the strength to go on even when we feel misunderstood and even forsaken by those around us.  Now we may go on even when Satan tries to accuse us of all our sins and wrongdoings.  Now we may go on even when we must face the hour of our own death.  We may go on because God will not forsake us.  He will never forsake us because once long ago, He forsook His Son on the cross of Golgotha.  And once is enough.  And therefore turn to the Lord, trust Him and believe in Him.  Receive His blessing in faith, for the Lord will bless you, He will make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.  The LORD will lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2014, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner