“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)” (Matthew 27:46).
Lillie was entranced with all the varieties of sweet treats in the candy aisle. Her palate salivating over the different varieties of sugary goodness on display, she didn’t even notice that her mom had moved on to the next aisle. Little Lillie’s delight turned to horror when she looked away from the candy to find her mom, and Mom was nowhere in sight! Tears formed in her eyes as she cried out, “Mom! Mom! Where are you?” Separation can wrack the soul with anxiety.
What anxiety did Jesus feel? “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”
This separation anxiety wasn’t simply an emotional experience, like a child distanced from her parent. This separation involved agony of body and soul. It was purposeful. It was awful. And it was exactly what was needed.
Sin separates. It breaks trust, betrays confidences, violates standards, and destroys protective boundaries. It’s hard to be around someone who continually and intentionally sins against you. Sin isolates the sinner.
On the cross, Jesus experienced the ultimate outcome of sin—utter isolation from God. The Father purposefully hid his face from his Son on the cross. Not because Jesus had sinned, but because we have. On Good Friday afternoon Jesus experienced all that our sins deserve: complete separation from God, absolute isolation from him and all of his blessings.
Separated and alone, Christ cried out for his Father. And for the first (and only) time, the Father didn’t answer. There was no reply. Just pain-filled silence. Anxiety’s ultimate fear—utter isolation! How awful!
And yet how awesome for you and me! Not because we like to see Jesus suffer, but because Jesus willingly suffered the separation of God. He was left alone so that we never would be. God treated Jesus as our sins deserve so that he wouldn’t have to treat us that way! When we cry out to God through Christ, God always hears us and answers us.
Whenever you feel alone, abandoned by God, remember what Christ suffered for you. Remember why he did it: to accomplish your salvation. Jesus did it so that through him you can find what you truly long for: real, deep, genuine connection with God!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, how can I thank you for what you have suffered for me? Not even eternity is enough to fully express just how grateful I am for what you have accomplished for me. With each new day you give me, Lord, lead me to live it in praise to you, because through you I am truly connected to God, the source of life and the reason for living. Amen.
Interested in more Lenten devotions? Visit forwardinchrist.net/lent-2023.
- Saving connection - 2023/03/20