Matthew 27:45-56 (Part 2) – Jesus Says “Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt”

Posted: April 28, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:45-56 (Part 2)

Jesus Dies on the Cross

Have you ever been punished for something that you did not do? One of my favorite movies from back in 1993 was The Fugitive. It was a movie that paid homage to a television series that extremely popular even further back in the 1960s. In the movie, Harrison Ford plays the part of Dr. Richard Kimble who is accused and then convicted unjustly for the murder of his wife. On the way to prison on a department of corrections bus, there is a horrific accident where the bus lands on railroad tracks down an embankment from the road above. Just before the train busts through bus, Harrison Ford is able to escape the bus,  the train and its subsequent derailment within an inch of his life. From his arrest, conviction, and his escape, Dr. Kimble spends the rest of the movie trying to prove his innocence which he does in the final climactic scenes. From the time, he is arrested he is treated like a criminal by everyone even though he is innocent. The machinery of justice was bound and determined to make someone pay for the crime in this high profile case and Dr. Kimble was the easiest target. Has anything similar to this happened to you. Maybe when you were a kid, you got accused of something you didn’t do and got punished for it. Maybe your brother or sister did something and successfully pointed the finger at you and let you take the fall for it. Maybe, it was a similar situation at school where you got accused of something you did not do, because you had a reputation as a trouble maker. Maybe, just maybe, you got accused of doing something wrong and you took the fall for the wrong thing done to protect a friend from getting in trouble because it would have ruined or hurt your friend in some way. In any of those cases, the wrongly accused feeling the full weight of punishment can feel abandoned and all alone. Let’s re-read the passage that is our subject today, Matthew 27:45-56:

 

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

 

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

 

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

 

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

 

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

 

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[d] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

 

Today, we will look at Jesus’ exclamation of separation from God. In the English translation of what Jesus said in Hebrew was “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” This statement is one of the most mysterious sayings of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. So, let’s take a look at what it means.

 

First, there are those who take this statement to validate that Jesus is not anything other than a human being. It is often used to rail against our Christian theological belief that Jesus is of one and the same as God. They claim that if Jesus is truly the Son of God, as we Christians call Him, then why would He have exclaimed this statement. They claim that He probably felt abandoned for having been so dedicated all His life to being a preacher and this was His end. No miraculous saving from the cross by God. He just was allowed to die. This so called man of God, a great teacher, was unable to get God to react and He felt abandoned and foolish on the cross. That would be the easy view. However, why would the gospels include such a statement if the effort of each of the gospels is to prove that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, a divine being in human flesh. The gospels included this statement without hesitation. To the gospel writers, this seemingly contradictory statement, in fact, assists in proving that Jesus was of one and same essence as God. Why?

 

First, it points out that Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 22. According to the CARM.org website, it says:

 

First of all, Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1, which begins with, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus quoted this Psalm in order to draw attention to it and the fact that He was fulfilling it there on the cross. Consider verses 11-18 in Psalm 22:

 

    “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me,  As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water,  And all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax;  It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;  And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me. They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”

 

The term, “dogs,” was used by the Jews to refer to Gentiles (cf. Matt. 15:21-28). His heart has melted within Him (v. 14). During the crucifixion process, the blood loss causes the heart to beat harder and harder and become extremely fatigued. Dehydration occurs (v. 15). Verses 16b-18 speak of piercing His hands and feet and dividing His clothing by casting lots. This is exactly what happen as described in Matt. 27:35.  

 

Jesus was not exclaiming that He was not divine. He was exclaiming His fulfillment of prophecy. His audience below Him at the cross would have known that He was quoting Psalm 22. So, even in His darkest hour, He still had full faith in God and His Word enough to exclaim a scriptural reference. Jesus quoted the Old Testament often during His public ministry so in this moment, He is still reminding people that all of this is happening for fulfillment of the scriptural Messiah’s actions not the popular military hero that everyone in Israel had morphed the Messiah into being. His quoting of Scripture here points people to the Old Testament as to what the fate of the Messiah was going to be and the fact that it was being fulfilled right in front of them.

 

Second, Jesus exclaimed this statement not just to point out that prophecy was being fulfilled in plain sight in front of this audience but it was also to express grief. It was fulfillment of prophecy but it was also grief to Jesus to have to fulfill it. Isaiah tells us that “he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; that he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; that the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; that by his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). In that moment on the cross, Jesus was made accursed by the Father and bore the sins of all mankind. He was suffering the wrath of God for our sins. Your sins, my sins, the sins of all who had already passed by that point in history and those who will have lived for every moment in history after that point. Thus, this moment on the cross, Jesus is bearing the weight of all sin of all time. Since Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, He was sinless and pure Himself so He was the perfect sacrifice to end the Old Testament sacrificial system. There was to be no more sacrifices. Jesus completed. He was perfect. He was divine. He was pure. He was the only one who could take on the whole wrath of God for all sin for all time. In this moment, Jesus became the object of God’s wrath. He became sin. He was punished for it. Though He was sinless, He bore the wrath of God for sin so that we would have the opportunity not to. He was being punished in our place so that we could have the right to come near to God. It was in that manifestation of God’s hatred of sin that Jesus feels abandoned. Just as someone who takes the blame for wrongdoing for another to protect them from the consequences of wrongdoing, when the punishment comes, though expected, does not take away that feeling of abandonment. According to gotquestions.com, it says,

 

“In those awful moments, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment as God placed the sins of the world on Him – and because of that had to “turn away” from Jesus. As Jesus was feeling that weight of sin, He was experiencing separation from God for the only time in all of eternity. It was at this time that 2 Corinthians 5:21 occurred, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus became sin for us, so He felt the loneliness and abandonment that sin always produces, except that in His case, it was not His sin – it was ours.

 

Just think of the fact that Jesus who had been and is now and for all eternity, except for this one moment, been in perfect unison and togetherness with the Holy Trinity (The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit – the three parts of the Godhead). Throughout all eternity! Jesus was separated from the unity that He had known for all eternity at this moment. God turned his back on Jesus at this moment so that Jesus could become sin and take the punishment for it. Imagine how alone he felt. It is like those stories that you hear of a husband and wife who have been married for 60 or 70 years and one of them predeceases the other. The remaining one grieves themselves to death because of the separation that feel with the person that they have known and loved since they had an understanding of what love is. In these cases of long-term marriage, it is often that surviving spouse follows their deceased spouse in death within a short period of time. In these 60, 70 plus year marriages there is this connection, this unison of souls that makes the remaining one feel like part of their soul has been ripped out by the death of the other spouse. That’s how Jesus felt at this moment. Though he knew in His omniscience that this moment was going to come, it does not make the moment any less potent to Him.

 

All of this seems very high brow theology doesn’t it? And, yes, in some ways it is. The whole Holy Trinity thing is hard to fathom and is only as we mature in Christ that we BEGIN to understand it. But what is it that I can take away this morning about Jesus exclaiming to God that He feels forsaken? That takeaway is that Jesus “gets me”. He understands me and what I experience as a human being. Though Jesus was divine as evidence by his fulfilling Messianic prophecies made 1,000 years earlier before his day on the cross but He understands grief like we humans experience. He understands feeling forsaken like we humans experience. He understands feelings of abandonment like we humans experience. He has lived in the flesh and understands pain, sorrow, and suffering. He understands being wrongly accused and suffering for it. He understands feelings of loneliness. He understands emotional pain. When your marriage has broken up not by your choice and you feel the lowest of lows and you feel abandoned and all alone. Jesus understands. He’s been there. When you feel persecuted and left high and dry by your enemies or betrayed by your friends, He’s been there. When you are paying the consequences for the actions of others, Jesus has been there. No matter the pain of loss and abandonment that you may feel, Jesus knows it. Like the old commercials featuring super-do-anything-athlete Bo Jackson used to say, “Bo Knows!”, you can say the same about Jesus, “Jesus knows!” Like the old saying about having already experienced something, “I’ve been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt”, Jesus can same the same to us when we are feeling lost and alone. Jesus can look you in the eye and with all honesty say to you, “Been There. Done That. Got the T-Shirt!” Jesus understands you. Jesus gets you!

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