Daily Devotion - April 2 - 2021 - Forsaken

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – April 2, 2021
Mark 15:33-37
Weekly Theme: Christ Lives
Today: Forsaken

Holy Week is certainly a week of mixed emotions and expressions of our faith. The theme this week ends with the good news that Christ lives on Easter Sunday.  That said, today is Good Friday, the day we commemorate Jesus’ death today.
I have often wondered why the Church would refer to it as Good Friday. On the surface it seems to be a terrible description of the day that Jesus died a brutal death on the cross. His own people have betrayed him, denied him and now in today’s passage he is asking God the Father, why he has forsaken him.  But, as I said, the good news that came from this brutal crucifixion and death is the reason we celebrate on Sunday his victory over sin and death!

There are two schools of thought regarding these last words Jesus spoke on the cross based on Mark’s account of his crucifixion and death; “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Jesus is repeating a phrase from David’s poetic Psalm 22 which begins with this very same expression. Perhaps Jesus, despite the excruciating pain he was enduring, is using this time on the cross to teach those who were watching and listening about the fulfillment of prophesy that is taking place right before their very eyes so that they will understand themselves to be witnesses who will later share how prophesy has been fulfilled. More importantly, it could be that as Jesus bore all of our sins and took on the penalty for our sins, despite his own innocence and sinlessness, God could not be in his presence and in those moments when all of our sins were poured out on them, and he, therefore,  felt abandoned by God. He, in his humanness, felt what his people were feeling in those agonizing moments: there is no hope, there is no love, there is no joy, there is no peace. But because of his divine nature, he also knew the victory belongs to God.

Jesus came to earth to experience everything that humans do to include those times when we feel completely abandoned and forsaken. The one thing Jesus did not experience in his life and death was sin, although Satan tempted him and tried to trick him to sin. He, who knew no sin, bore all the penalty for all our sins, which includes this momentary time, during which he was separated from God, his Father, whom he loves. Even in his death, Jesus bore the most extreme penalty for our sins, the penalty of being separated by God, for whom it is impossible to be in the presence of sin.

Why did Jesus cry out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” ( “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)? He did it to bear the penalty we deserved so that we might never feel forsaken by God and he also did it to teach us that his crucifixion and death were necessary for the fulfillment of prophesy and for forgiveness of our sins. Today, on this Good Friday, let us remember with repentant and grateful hearts the sorrow, betrayal, denial, condemnation, judgment, pain, suffering, abandonment and death Jesus experienced so that we might be free from the burden, shame and consequence of sin which is eternal separation from God. We need only believe in the saving power of Jesus on the cross and his conquering death through the Resurrection. Our grateful response should be to love God and neighbor enough to tell others about the love of Jesus Christ so that we might never feel forsaken.

Dear God, thank you so much for Jesus who showed us how to live, even as he died. Help us to fully grasp the severe consequences of the sin he bore for each one of us to include the feeling of being abandoned by God. And then to rejoice on Sunday, that he is risen indeed and has overcome sin and death… and for this we pray in his name. Amen

  August 2021  
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