Last Words from the Cross #4 - A Cry from Hell (posted 3-25-03)
...Where Jesus became our sin and suffered our hell,
So that we could become His righteousness
And enjoy His Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21).
During His first three hours on the cross Jesus has :
Prayed for His enemies,
Promised paradise to a penitent thief,
And comforted Mary and John.
It is now noon. What is this darkness falling over all the land (vs.45)? It could not be a solar eclipse. Passover was always at full moon when solar eclipses cannot occur. Out of that eerie noonday darkness comes the cry of Jesus,
My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?(Matthew 27:46).
Why darkness? Could it be evidence that God the Father turned His back on Jesus when our sins were found in Him? Jesus once described hell as outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). Or perhaps it reveals the ultimate meaning of hell as separation from God. The Apostles Creed says, Jesus descended into hell. This is based on Acts 3:27, Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou allow thine Holy One to see corruption. The word for hell used here is hades which is sometimes translated grave(1 Corinthians 15:55). Also, Jesus taught that no one could go to hell and come out (Luke: 16:26). We will see in the sixth word from the cross, Jesus said, It is finished (John 19:30). Was our salvation finished on the cross or did Jesus still go through hell fire? I believe He made full payment for our sins there. This is not to minimize hell as fire and eternal punishment. It is only to say that Jesus suffered our hell on the cross.
Was Jesus forsaken that day by his Father?
Yes. He really was. Jesus knew the difference. He had enjoyed perfect fellowship with His Father all eternity past. On the cross that fellowship was broken. His cry expressed the anguish that made the death of Jesus unique. It was not the scourging, the thorns, or the nails, ... nor was it the rejection and mockery that gave Jesus the most pain. Those were real and painful, but others had suffered and still suffer in all those ways. The unique suffering of Jesus was bearing our sins in His body and the resulting hell of separation from His Father. That is the real meaning of the noonday darkness and our Lords heart-rending cry.
Why did his Father forsake Jesus?
The Bible says of God, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity;...(Habakkuk 1:13). All our sins were placed on Jesus. ... the Lord hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). God, in His holy justice, had to judge Jesus like He will judge all who fail to receive forgiveness through His Son.
In Gethsemane, the night before the cross, Jesus prayed, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt(Matthew 26:39). All our sins were in that cup. It must have been indescribably bitter. Luke adds, ...there appeared an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:43-44). Had not the angel strengthened Him, Jesus may have died in Gethsemane from the cup of our sin. Sin is lethal poison.
On the cross, Jesus asked Why, not for His information, but for ours. He wanted us to understand the ultimate price He paid as our sin bearer.
The triumph in this Word!
Some see this word as triumph, not despair. In fact, Dr. Hershel Hobbs, in his sermon on this text, entitles it The Word of Conquest. In his great vision of the cross, Isaiah says, Yet it pleased the Lord [Father] to bruise him; [Jesus] he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed [us], he shall prolong his days [resurrection], and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He [God] shall see the travail of his [Jesus] soul and shall be satisfied;. . . (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Here it is! Gods justice was satisfied on the cross for all who receive His Son. God loves you! Jesus died for your sins! He arose from the dead and is alive and ready to give you a full and free pardon. But you must act on His offer. Repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Heres a suggested prayer to express your faith:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for bearing my sin and my hell on the cross. I believe you were victorious over death. Please save me now, and someday, take me to heaven to be with you. In Your holy name I pray. Amen!
© 2003 D. B. Martin
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