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Good Friday Meditation:
Christ's Fourth Word from the Cross

By Rev. Gary W. Deddo, Ph.D.

We now hear the Fourth Word on the lips of Jesus.

It is the center piece of the seven words.

It is the deepest and darkest mystery.

We can only stand aghast, and wonder.

When we hear the Eternal Only Begotten Son of the Father cry out:

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. My God, My God,
why hast Thou forsaken me?"

What can we say about these shocking and largely incomprehensible words?

We can only point in a certain direction,

we cannot fathom the depths.

We must approach with wonder, awe, and humility.

1. We would do well to remember that, after being hung on the cross, that cruel means of Roman execution, for at least three hours, these words were uttered by the Eternal Son of God.

As the Only Begotten Son of the Father, he, from all eternity, had existed in perfect and holy love and communion with Father.

Never had he experienced a moment of disharmony, strain, or even disruption, in this perfect divine fellowship.

We have no way of knowing the joy, the glory, and the bliss of such perfect and sacred communion with God. But we have some clues in the Gospels themselves as to the holy, intimate heights from which this relationship fell--for us and our salvation.

2. The depths are largely unimaginable to us as well.

The Son of God, now under the conditions of time and space, flesh and blood, now under the conditions of fallen, sinful humanity,

experienced the total disruption of his relationship with the Father.

In these words we see that, from Jesus side, under the conditions and limitations of fallen human consciousness,

for the first time in all eternity

He lost all contact with his Heavenly Father.

He lost all awareness of his Father's help or presence.

The screen on Jesus' side went completely blank.

So, he agonizingly cries out: "My God My God, why has thou forsaken me?"

Jesus , even though he was the Son of God,

now, in this moment, lives totally by faith, with no sight of his Heavenly Father.

He has no signs, no physical reminders, no present evidences

of his Father's care and presence.

Jesus feels, senses, experiences abandonment, as if God has left him, as if God has left him totally alone in his greatest hour of need.

3. There is no reason to believe that in the midst of his deep agony

Jesus fell into sin and unbelief, as we might do.

But, he was brought to the ultimate test, to the very brink.

No, His words are not those of unbelief or accusation.

But, they are a true testimony of his present devastating experience,

of the depths to which he went for us and our salvation.

He experienced for us the God-abandonment which we would experience had he not gone through it in our place and on our behalf.

4. We can see the faint light of his faith shining through his agony:

a) We see, first, that these words are a prayer. Although he had no direct sense of God's presence, nevertheless, he prayed to God.

b) He is quoting the first lines of Psalm 22. He remembers Scripture, the Word of God. Even in this moment of severest trial, Jesus prays Scripture.

c) He calls out "My God. My God" even when God seemed far away,

and it seemed as if he had been left in a helpless and hopeless condition.

God was still his God, God is still our God.

Jesus, by sheer faith, is praying to his Heavenly Father.

He knows that his own present awareness does not tell the whole truth. God will be faithful even when it seems to us like He is not.

d) The Psalm he is quoting goes on to encourage those who are afflicted to nevertheless trust in God

and it points forward to a time when it will become clear again that

God is faithful, that God does deliver and rescue--

especially from enemies who taunt us to abandon all hope in God.

5. From these words, we learn of the shocking depth of our sin.

Jesus, the very Son of God experienced God forsakenness

only because he took on our sins, the sins of the world upon himself.

Our sinfulness, rebellion, disobedience, and idolatry were all placed on Him

that they might be judged, condemned, undone.

So that we might be forgiven and healed and reconciled to God.

In him then, we see the true intentions of Satan and the effects of evil.

Sin, if it had its way, would not only destroy us, God's creatures,

but use us, to destroy God.

Sin hates all life and goodness, all holiness and love.

When Jesus bore the sins of the world on his Cross

all Hell broke loose in an attempt to kill God by breaking apart the Holy eternal relations of the Father, Son and Spirit.

Evil attempted to drive a wedge of suspicion, unbelief and fear between Father and Son and thereby overthrow God.

The real cost of Christ's crucifixion

was not so much physical, although that was certainly a real part of it,

but much more he suffered the pain and agony

of having his perfect communion with the Father attacked and ruptured by evil

in its attempt to undermine the Son's trust and love for the Father

and so finally destroy the Holy Unity of the Trinity.

This was Jesus' darkest moment of his darkest hour.

But in it the sinfulness of sin, the true evil of evil, was revealed.

It's plan to destroy, if it could, the very source of holy life and love

was exposed, overcome, and undone.

6. In these words, we not only see the depths of evil, but the depths of God's mercy and love for us.

In order to see us freed from the power of sin, from God's own judgment upon sin, and from the guilt of sin,

the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exposed the sanctity of their holy eternal communion, exposed their unbroken, glorious, and life-giving fellowship to the destructive forces of evil.

Because of God's glorious mercy towards us, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were profoundly affected by our sin that we might be set free from it.

When the Son of God took on our sin in order to judge it, condemn it, and have its power broken in him and upon him,

the Father, Son and Spirit endured the disruption of their triune life of holy union and communion.

The cost of God's mercy towards us was Jesus' experience of being utterly abandoned by God.

But God Himself, in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, willingly, voluntarily and even joyfully suffered, so that we might not be forsaken by God, but rather enter into an eternal union and communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen

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