Abandoned in the Dark – For What?
The large raft was about forty yards from the beach and a lot of teenagers were having a blast diving off of it into the deep twenty-foot cool water. I was about seven hanging out with some friends – some my age, others a little older – on the Word of Life Island beach. “Come on Dave! Let’s swim out to the raft!” I was a good swimmer, but it was an overcast day and the mountain lake was a little rough. My friends ran out into the water and started swimming for the raft. I followed,
Everything was fine until I swallowed some water trying to get a breath in the waves and fighting the wind. I was out of gas. As I started to go down, I could see the lifeguard on the raft only ten feet away. He was looking right at me but just stood there. I tried to call for help, but there were teens on the raft diving into the water, pushing each other off, and making a lot of noise. With the wind and the waves and the noise I wasn’t sure he heard me. He kept standing there. He wasn’t getting the message that I was in deep trouble. I started going down into the dark.
“Now it was the sixth hour (twelve noon) and darkness fell upon the land until the ninth hour (three o’clock in the afternoon). At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ –which is translated, ‘My God, my God, for what have you abandoned me?’ Some of those standing around the cross heard Jesus and were saying, ‘Look! He’s calling for Elijah.’ One man ran and filled a sponge with vinegar wine, put it on a rod, and said, while he was offering it to Jesus to drink, ‘Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes.’ Then Jesus cried out with a loud shout and breathed out his last.” Mark 15:33-37
Before he died Moses encouraged his people telling them that their God would never leave them or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). The Lord told Joshua, Moses’ successor, that as he was with Moses, so he would never abandon Joshua (Joshua 1:5). David assured Solomon, his son, that he didn’t need to be afraid. The LORD would never fail or forsake him (1 Chronicles 28:20). Yet on the cross Jesus cried out to his Abba, and God didn’t respond.
Jesus was abandoned. For what? It’s the same question we asked in Gethsemane when Jesus’ Father didn’t give him an affirmative answer to the request to take the “cup” away.
Almost everyone believes Jesus was a prophet, a good moral teacher and example. Now if that’s all Jesus is to you then you must face these questions: Why follow Jesus? Why follow his example? Why worship his Father? All it gets you is the cross, darkness, and desertion by your Father. Who wants to follow the example of a man who lived the most moral, exemplary life ever, and then ends up dying alone in the dark? But Jesus asked his Father a question just before he died.
“…for what have you abandoned me?”
From before creation Jesus knew the answer to this question, but do we? God turned his back on his beloved Son so that he and his Son could be reconciled to us. He died so that our arrogance, self-centeredness, rebellion against our Creator, and a host of other sins could be justly forgiven. The moment it became dark and Jesus breathed out his last “the one who knew no sin, for us became sin so that we might become in him the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:22). It’s the great exchange. Jesus took our sin into himself and took the punishment our sin deserved. And he took his righteousness and gave it to us as a gift the moment we believed his Good News.”
Finally, the lifeguard on the raft put it all together, dove in, put a strong arm around me, and carried me to the safety of the raft. On Sunday morning God the Father didn’t abandon his Son’s body to the grave. Jesus rose from the dead, but that’s a little bit further on in the resolution of Marks’ Story.
LORD Jesus, thanks that you went through the darkness of being rejected by your Father so that he will never leave me or forsake me.
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