Questions Good Friday Why Have You Forsaken Me - Mark 15


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Questions Good Friday Why Have You Forsaken Me - Mark 15

  1. 1. Mark 15:33-41 Questions: Why have you forsaken me? 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, quot;Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?quot; (which means quot;My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?quot;). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, quot;Listen, he's calling Elijah.quot; 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. quot;Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down,quot; he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, quot;Surely this man was the Son of God!quot; 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Brothers and sisters in Christ, Our word for today as we consider Christ’s passion and death is forsaken. The word forsaken is one of those words that we know because we hear it in context and see its meaning in what happens around it. It’s like love – when someone says “I love you” – you learn what love means through what they do, how they behave, how you connect with that person. Try to define love and it’s harder – but take the hand of someone who loves you and you can feel it in their touch. The word forsaken is like that – we hear it each year somewhere in the week before Easter and usually on Good Friday. We hear all these events going on around it in the Bible and we understand that being forsaken is bad. In fact, when we hear the story as we’ve heard it this morning we know that it’s very bad to be forsaken. This is a word that we instinctively know the meaning of but probably would have a harder time putting into words – although I’m sure we could get pretty close. 1
  2. 2. There is a sense of aloneness to this word. Of being forgotten. There’s sadness. Frustration. Maybe fear. These are the things we feel when we hear it. And with good reason. From the dictionary, literally, the word forsaken means to be renounced or turned away from entirely. Being forsaken is more than being alone – it’s being left alone on purpose. It’s more than being forgotten – it’s being rejected. To forsake is to actively and with intent cut someone off. And when we hear this it makes sense with the story of Good Friday. The events of this day remind us that… I. …Jesus was forsaken. This is not an easy story for us to hear – this story of suffering. Last week we left the story of Jesus following his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Where he was hailed and praised as king. We heard of his arrest as he was betrayed by Judas and taken by the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, in Jerusalem and Peter – the closest of his disciples, his friends – had rejected him. He was being beaten by the priests and the teachers of the law. They struck him and spit on him. They dragged him before Pilate and the crowd that condemned him and shouted “Crucify him” – the same crowd that was there to praise him just five days earlier. And then Pilate had him flogged – beaten with a whip made with strips of leather with bone and pieces of metal attached to the end. It dug into his skin and his muscles and tore at them. The soldiers of Rome then took him and put the crown of thorns on his head. They took a staff – and they hit him on the head with it – 2
  3. 3. they spit on him and punched him. They mocked him. “Hail, King of the Jews” they shouted. Then they took him to Golgotha – the place of the skull – taunting him the whole way. He was thirsty but refused the drink that would dull his pain. And there they stripped him down, cast lots for his clothing, and crucified him. They drove nails into his wrists and into his heel bones and they hung him up at 9 in the morning and they left him there to suffer. Naked. Alone. Battered. Beaten. Insulted. In agony. And for six hours he was there like this. 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Six hours. Suffering like this. Bleeding and suffering in a place that was reserved for the worst offenders – despised and rejected – the cross being the greatest of shames – the most horrific of deaths. This is horrible – terrible – the events of Jesus suffering and death are hard to read and hard to hear – but we need to. To know what Jesus was going through that would cause him to cry out: 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, quot;Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?quot; (which means quot;My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?quot;). There it is: Jesus felt forsaken. Not just by the crowds. Not just by the religious leaders or the Romans. Not simply by his disciples and friends. Jesus felt that God had forsaken him. Rejected him. 3
  4. 4. Abandoned him to this suffering. When we hear it like this we understand – the dictionary helps us – but we need the cross to understand truly what it means to be forsaken. Here’s the thing… II. This is not the first time we’ve heard this cry… Turning back in our Bibles and in history we find ourselves with David and with Psalm 22. It begins… “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” Now some of us know this connection – that Jesus is quoting here from David. No new teaching. Nothing original. Just the opening line from the hymnal. And maybe he did this because it was the song that fit the occasion… …but more likely is that this is a clue for us – a clue to look back. To see what’s going on in this Psalm. There is something important for us here to consider when we think about David. Here he is, the King of Israel – and we understand that he us under attack – probably from a number of sources. From enemy nations and empires that are around him at the time. Attacking his land and his people – attempting to take it from him. From his political enemies who were to him family and friends – from those who are looking to take his kingdom from within. To 4
  5. 5. dethrone him, to kill him, to take over. And even by the people as we hear in verse 6 who mock him and throw insults at him. And David feels alone – like everyone has left him and is now out to get him. They see his suffering and they taunt him for it. Here is the King of the Jews and in verse 8 we hear those taunts -- quot;He trusts in the LORD,quot; they say, quot;let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.quot; Something’s happening here that we need to start noticing. Listen to what happens at verse 11 and following. 11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. 12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. Sound familiar? It should – what David is describing here is line for line the suffering that Jesus went through. The pain, the humiliation, the shame. We’re meant to see this connection. But why? Why was Jesus forsaken in the same way that David was forsaken? And the answer is to show us… 5
  6. 6. III. …just how far God is willing to go for us. There’s this scene in the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Right near the end of the first book or movie. The fellowship is attacked by the orcs and oruk-hai that Saruman has sent after them. Frodo escapes to the river and then begins to cry, then Frodo remembering his conversation with Gandalf (who is now dead), he says to Gandalf, Frodo: quot;I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.quot; Gandalf: quot;So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.quot; At that momen, Frodo knows what to do. He sets across the river alone. Then out of the woods runs Sam and he starts wading into the water after him. Frodo yells at him: quot;Go back, Sam! I'm going to Mordor alone.quot; And Sam responds, quot;Of course you are, and I'm coming with you!quot; Frodo, quot;You can't swim! Sam!quot; Sam struggles to swim then sinks into the water. Then when it looks like Sam is about to die, Frodo's hand reaches down and 6
  7. 7. grabs Sam's wrist. Sam tightens his hand around Frodo's. Frodo pulls him out of the water and up into the boat. And as he’s in the boat catching his breath Sam informs Frodo, quot;I made a promise, Mister Frodo. A promise! 'Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee.' And I don't mean to! I don't mean to.quot; Sam made a promise – and at that moment showed just how far he was willing to go to keep it. And the reason we need to see Jesus and David together here is because God made a promise to us. Deuteronomy 31:6 The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. And in Jesus Christ he’s showing us just how far he’s willing to go. How much that promise means. At any time he could have stopped. Turned away. Displayed his power. Called on his angels. But he didn’t. He kept going. Enduring each hit. Each degradation. Every strike of the whip. Every call of the crowd. To enter into the entirety of human suffering. That’s what David is describing in Psalm 22 – his own suffering but also the height of suffering. To be forsaken is to go down as far as it is possible to go. To be completely alone and rejected. My friends, Do you ever feel forsaken? 7
  8. 8. I run across people all the time who think they are. Who have stories of suffering and sin that are so dark and deep. Who think they have gone so far and so long that they aren’t worth saving. “I’ve done too much. I’ve sinned too much. God is punishing me and now I’m alone in the universe. No one wants me. Not even God.” Maybe you’re not there. Maybe you are. Maybe you don’t feel forsaken – but you’re suffering and you’re feeling alone. Or you’ve been there and you know what I’m going to say next and in your heart you’re praising God. Or you will be there and you need to hear this now and tuck it away – don’t you forget it. Jesus was forsaken – he went as far as it is possible to go – he suffered as much as it is possible for someone to suffer. So that when you suffer – when you find yourself feeling alone, hurting, sinful, broken, forsaken – reach out your hand and Jesus’ hand will be there. The hand of someone who loves you. And what he says to us is the reality of grace…we can never go too far… I made a promise. A promise! 'I will never leave or forsake you.' And I don't mean to! I don't mean to.quot; Shall we pray, 8