Do you have memories of odd conversations from the past that you frequently think about – perhaps thinking of different ways to approach the conversation? I have one that deals with the final hours of Jesus’ suffering.
I was a young man in my first worship leader role back in the early 1980s at a small Baptist church in Crutcho Creek, OK. If that sounds backwoods, it is! It was a church full of the friendliest blue hairs you could ever care to meet. Those people knew how to love on you, let me tell you.
Anyway, we had a guest preacher at Easter time one year and I remember a conversation we had as if it happened yesterday. Between songs, I had mentioned something about how God had to turn His back on Jesus as He hung there on that cross because Jesus had taken on all the sins of the world, both present and future. This was my understanding of the scripture.
After the service, this guest preacher took me aside and attempted to correct my thinking. “How could God turn His back on Jesus? This goes completely against the nature of God!” he said. He went on for a few minutes, passionately, but with genuine concern. I had a real zeal for Jesus back then, but I was shy in the confidence department, so I just nodded and the discomfort soon ended.
As I read it this morning again, I am reminded of that conversation. But, I wonder – what is the nature of God? The answer I get is – Holy. He is a Holy God who cannot tollerate sin. Some have used Ps. 22:1 as an agreement with this guest preacher, saying Jesus was only quoting scripture where David is crying out to God. Clearly in David’s case, God had not turned His back on David.
The scripture is clear about this, that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). But, as I read verses 33 and 34 of Mark, I feel sure that since Jesus had taken all that sin upon Himself, that God could not bear to look upon Jesus – even if just for a moment, God turned His back because He cannot look upon sin. Why else would Jesus cry out:
33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Watching the movie “The Passion” has made it much easier to imagine all that Jesus must have gone through. But, I still don’t think Jesus, even under the tremendous pressure of the pain and agony, both mental and physical, would have uttered anything other than very intentional, beneficial truth, so I don’t think He cried out these words by mistake.
I have to believe that the human side of Jesus, left alone for the first time by Abba Father, cried out for Him. Darkness fell upon the whole land (earth?) as Jesus died.
But, as a result:
38 And the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
We have access to the Throne of God through Jesus Christ. No matter if you believe God turned His back on Jesus or not, Jesus got the job done. He defeated death & satan and we enjoy the benefits of His victory. Because of what Jesus did on that cross, we can know that God will never turn His back on us nor forsake us.
Praise the name of Jesus!