"We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message)
I have been reading through the gospels since the end of September in my One Year Chronological Bible by Tyndale Publishers. The last several days have been those recounting the last supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the unjust trial of Christ, and now His death on Golgotha (the place of the Skull). Because I have all four gospel accounts on the same story one after another, I can reflect on different things said by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, but I appreciate how each of the four men who wrote the earthly life account of Jesus emphasized different aspects of the same story so that among all four of them, I can see what struck them the most.
Yesterday, all four accounts dealt with the six hours Christ agonized on the cross and what was said by Him while He was there. Matthew and Mark included the most horrendous sentence a human being has ever uttered:
My God, my God! Why have You forsaken me?
Girlfriends, I can promise you that whatever you are facing today, this statement will never be reality, even if you feel you are storming the gates of hell itself today in your circumstances. The God I worship has three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For all time until the cross, Jesus had never been alone. The holy Trinity had never been separated until that awful day when Jesus, who was perfect and sinless, became sin. God the Father, in His awesome holiness, could not bear to look at the sin Christ became as He unleashed all of His wrath in that moment on His beloved Son. I sometimes think of my darling son having to die for someone else and it takes my breath away. What if Chase were condemned for a crime he didn't commit and I had to watch him die? I couldn't bear it. Christ was separated from His Father as He paid the penalty that should have been mine that day. Alone? Forsaken? I have no concept of those words although I have felt I have had reason to think I have been both. Why does my Jesus understand when I feel I have no one to go to? Because He truly was forsaken and alone as He conquered hell, death, and the grave.
Luke and John both did not record this utterance of anguish from Christ's lips. Instead, they both give the result of Christ's willingness to face the horror of the complete aloneness and abandonment that He had to suffer:
It is finished!
My darling friend, does your soul know that it is finished? Because of the bitterness of Christ being forsaken for that moment of time by His Father, you and I are NEVER ALONE! Never! No matter what your terror today, the size of your mountain, the depth of the pit, the impossibility of your situation, your God is with you! He will never leave you or forsake you. Because the perfect Son of God experienced the anguish of being alone, this is the truth for you and me:
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 (NLT)
Because He was forsaken, nothing that you and I face today separates us from our God. Instead of focusing on our fear of abandonment--which is not true--let's rejoice that we are written on the palms of His hands today (Is 49:16).
It is finished!