Cries from Calvary #4
“Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?’ That is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The middle cry from the cross was a question, a question which must have echoed on the shores of the moral universe. A perfect Man was nailed to a cross, crucified under the aegis of Roman justice. But was this question asked for His sake or for ours? What insights can we glean from this question?
It was not a question asked out of Ignorance. Here is the omniscient One, Who alone knew all things. He never asked a question to gain knowledge. He was the only One on earth Who knew the reason for His being forsaken. In Psalm 22 from where the citation came, He ascribes it to the holiness of God: “But Thou art holy” (Ps 22:3). He knew, as none other could, the reason for His being forsaken.
It was not out of Irritation or annoyance. He not only submitted fully to the will of God but agreed with and arranged the very details of His sacrifice. In that upper room, that evening, He had given thanks for the bread, in effect thanking His Father for the opportunity of giving His body.
It was not out of Insolence. He was actually worshiping in the words of Psalm 22:3. He was praising God and not pitying Himself. In Psalm 22, He owns the faithfulness of the God, Who had taken Him out of the womb. No shred of insolence against the hand that was smiting ever arose in His heart. He poured out His soul unto death without reluctance, resistance, or regret.
It was not an Insinuation or Accusation. He was not charging God with abandonment or a lack of faithfulness. He was stating a fact in the form of a question. Yet even in His question there is a confession that this God is still His God. He has maintained His holy character in the forsaking of His Son.
It is an Insight. Who among us would have ever imagined that on the cross, the Lord Jesus was forsaken by His God if we did not have this verse? Who would have ever thought that sin was so evil, justice so inflexible, holiness so demanding, and love so immeasurable that He would actually need to be forsaken?
It shows us the
- Reality of His sufferings – At the moment in which He was glorifying God, He was forsaken. At the moment of His most costly obedience, He was forsaken. At the moment when men were doing their worst to Him, He was forsaken. At the moment when He was doing the will of God, He was forsaken
- His Priority amidst His Suffering – It was not the forsaking by friends and family that touched Him so deeply. It was not the desertion of disciples in His dark hour. “Why hast Thou!” What was the most bitter part of the cup He drank is revealed to us in His question.
- The Immensity of His Suffering – Forsaken! Left alone! Nothing could possibly have caused more sorrow and suffering than for the enjoyment of an eternal fellowship to be interrupted. Think of your grief at separation from a loved one. Now multiply by a factor of infinity and something of the depth of His sorrow is approximated. In God’s presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). God’s absence would mean the fullness of grief.
- The Identity of the Source of His Suffering – What brought satisfaction to the throne, what put away sin (Heb 9:26), what declared God to be righteous (Rom 3:25), is that it was the hand of God and not that of men that smote Him at Calvary.
- Look at the questions which Pilate asked in John 18 and 19. There are at least five question and they show irritation, insolence and insult, insinuation, ignorance, and insight into his character.