Abandonment (10:45 Traditional)

Abandonment (10:45 Traditional)

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

We are up to the fourth saying of Jesus in our series “Seven sayings of the Cross” – “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me”. Jesus in a moment of pain and suffering cries out to God. How does this help us in the times of darkness in our lives?

We have been exploring the 7 sayings of Jesus from the cross

  • “Father Forgive them” … the cross solves the problem of sin
  • “Today you will be in paradise” … we have the choice to accept God’s grace“
  • Mother/son” – Jesus priority was relationships, helping us be friends with God

Today we look at the fourth saying … which are a little darker than the others.  “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”  Why have you forsaken me?

As I said, this saying is a darker than the first three, it is full with anguish, hurt and pain.  Let’s put it into context.

It was coming close to the point of Jesus death and we assume that he would have been on the cross for possibly four or five hours by now. 

When Jesus was first crucified, there would have been a large crowd watching – rowdy and loud. They cheer – they mock – they shout – they place wagers on how long the three men being crucified will last.  As the hours went by the crowd would have drifted away but some remained.  As I mentioned last week, it was at this point that Jesus friends would have been able to draw close to the cross – not too close, the soldiers were still on guard.

Then, around 3 hours after Jesus was crucified, something changed.  Darkness fell upon all the land. It happened so suddenly that no one expected it.  One moment the sun was out – the next moment it had disappeared.  It was not an eclipse.  It was not a dark cloud.  It was as if darkness itself fell like a shroud over the land.  

No one moved.  No one spoke.  Something eerie was going on.  It lasted for three long hours.  It is clear the end is near.  Jesus is at the point of death.

Suddenly he screams. Only four words, but they shot out of His mouth, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus felt alone, forsaken, abandoned.

Have you ever had that experience?  I have.  A number of years ago I went through a particularly dark time.  I was struggling in my ministry, I had made some mistakes which hurt others, I was working as hard as I could yet I could see no results from my labour.  It was a really dark and I began to inwardly question a lot of things. 

Was I really cut out to me a minister?  Was I the right person for North Rocks?  Was I hindering the kingdom of God rather than helping it?  I knew in my head that I was probably over-reacting … but that is how I was feeling.  Worst of all – I could not feel God.  I tried to feel God again.  I prayed.  I read.  I threw myself even more into my work … if I just work harder. The darkness remained.  My God My God, why have you forsaken me.

I was reminded a story of a woman who was angry with God.  Like me, she was living in the middle of a dark patch.  She had not been dealt a good hand in life.  Her marriage had broken down after love was replaced with anger and abuse.  Her kids had made bad choices in life and were now suffering the consequences.  And now her doctor had told her that she may have cancer and that they would need to do some more test.    It was like she would be dealing with one tragedy when another would strike.

 As she walked down the road, it started to rain. “Why me?” she though, “What have I done to deserve a life like this.” 

To get out of the rain she ducked into a small catholic church that was open.  She moved into the empty side chapel of the church. 

She looked up at the crucifix on the wall and just snapped.  In her anger, she started to yell at this marble Jesus hanging from a marble cross.

“Why me?”, she asked again and again and painful experience after painful experience passed through her mind. She was angry with God allowing these things to happen to her.  But more she was angry with God because she did not feel him anymore.  

She had felt the presence of God when she was younger, and her mother would take her to church.  But now, when she really needed God, he had gone away – and she was angry.  She pointed an accusing finger at the marble crucifix and yelled, “You have no idea what it is like.  You have no idea how it feels to be totally alone, abandoned by everyone.  Forgotten by God.”  As she stood there pointing, a verse from her Sunday School days came back to her, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me.”

Tears began to flow.  It all became clear.  “You do know” she said to the marble crucifix.  “You do know what it is like to be all alone.”  Tears flowed freely as she realised that Jesus could relate to her.  That was a turning point in her life.  She continued on her life journey, which was still tough, but she continued with the knowledge that Jesus understood.  She knows that Jesus will never leave her.

Looking back over my dark time I can see that Jesus never left me … even though I was struggling to feel it at the time.  Jesus said those words on the cross with the knowledge that we would never have to. 

Did you hear that … When Jesus said those words on the cross … My God, my God, why have you abandoned me … he knew that because of the cross, we would never have that experience. 

It is my prayer that we can all embrace this truth in our lives.  These words that Jesus spoke from the cross “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me” are so significant, so meaningful – not because they are true for us, but rather, because of what Jesus did on the cross that they are not true for us.

Hear the good news.  Because of the cross – we are never alone.  We are never forsaken.  God will never, ever abandon us.  Amen.