Good Friday, 2010

Friday April 2 2010, 10:00 am

Isaiah 52.13-53.12

* Psalm 22

Hebrews 4.14-16, 5.7-9

* John 18.1-19.42

Sermon: Forsaken

 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In Matthew and Mark, are the only gospels to record Jesus saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus dies with these very words on his lips.

No “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”1

Not even “It is finished.”2

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus' last words are “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It can be so difficult to recognize that God is with us!

So hard to trust that God is beckoning us onward into the safety of God's arms!

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A family is asleep in their home.

A fire breaks out.

The parents wake up, and direct the children out of the house.

But, like a horse in a barn fire, the young boy gets scared and runs back upstairs to the seeming-safety of his bedroom.

The Father turns to follow, but the a wall of fire makes that impossible.

The rest of the family runs outside.

The Father stands on the ground below his son's bedroom window, and calls out, "Jump, son. I'll catch you."

The boy cries back, "It's too dark. I can't see you, Dad!"

And the Father replies, "That's OK. I can see you!"3

It can be so difficult to recognize that God is with us!

So hard to trust that God is beckoning us onward into the safety of God's arms!

Hanging on the cross, even Jesus couldn't see it!

”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

As we've portrayed in our midweek Lenten services, Jesus has endured hunger, rejection, being mocked and bullied,  physical suffering, concern for his family, and hesitancy to go through with it all.

Now, God seems so very far off.

In Matthew and Mark, the only gospels to record Jesus saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus dies with these very words on his lips.

Even though Jesus has no experience of his Father's presence at this point in time, even though he cannot see God at this moment of agony hanging on the cross, God can see him.

And that is enough for the ordeal to end with resurrection!4

It can be so difficult to recognize that God is with us!

So hard to trust that God is beckoning us onward into the safety of God's arms!

Hanging on the cross, even Jesus couldn't see it!

So it should be no surprise that we, too, feel forsaken by God at times!

It can in fact be difficult for us to see God with us in the emergency room, the funeral home, the principal's office, at a counseling session....

Suffering, difficulty, and death are often seen as proof that there is no God, or that God doesn't care.

Suffering, difficulty, and death are often seen as signs that God is either absent or powerless!

But the suffering, difficulty, and death of Jesus proclaim that God was indeed at work!

God was indeed present, and in control!

Even when it seemed absolutely impossible for that to be the case!5

Life is like that: sometimes it's so dark that we can't see God.

But God can see us!

And that makes all the difference.

1As in Luke.

2As in John.

3Ecunet's Sermonshop 1997 11 16, note 50 by Graham Fowler.

4In Matthew and Mark, the only gospels to record “My God,my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus dies with these very words on his lips.

5Martin Luther addresses this theme of God being hidden when we suffer: “The great thing in life is to have a sure confidence in God when, at least as far as we can see or understand, he shows himself in wrath, and to expect better at his hands than we now know. Here God is hidden, as the bride says in the Song of Songs [2:9], “Behold there he stands behind our wall, gazing in through the windows.” That means he stands hidden among the sufferings which would separate us from him like a wall, indeed, like a wall of a fortress. And yet he looks upon me and does not forsake me. He stands there and is ready to help in grace, and through the window of dim faith he permits himself to be seen. (Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 44: Luther's works, vol. 44 : The Christian in Society I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (28). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.)