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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Did God Really Abandon Jesus On The Cross?

James Meehan - Did God Really Abandon Jesus On The Cross?

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    James Meehan - Did God Really Abandon Jesus On The Cross?
TOPICS: Bible Nerds, Abandonation

What is Bible Nerds? This is a show all about answering your questions to different parts of the Bible so that together we can read the Bible more wisely to see it as this unified story that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. We believe that one of the most important things we can remember when it comes to the Bible is that Jesus is king and context is everything. What does that mean? Well, Jesus is king means that the entire Bible points to Jesus and invites us to become more like him.

And then context is all the information that gives meaning to the things we're reading, it's what comes before and after, it was what was happening in history and in their culture, in the language that they spoke. The more we can understand that, the more we can understand everything else. And today's passage, and the question that comes with it is no exception, because this is one of those things where if you just read it and take it how it seems at first glance, it can be a little bit unsettling. So what we're reading today is found in Matthew's Gospel in chapter 27, during Jesus's crucifixion where he is hanging on the cross. And in verse 46, as he's hanging on the cross, being mocked by the people around him, after having been tortured, we read that Jesus cries out "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani", which means my "God, my God, why have you abandoned me"?

These are the words of Jesus. The sinless Son of God as he is hanging on the cross. And maybe these are words that you've asked too, maybe you've gone through something really, really difficult and you wondered why God didn't do anything about it. Maybe you prayed and prayed and prayed and God didn't seem to answer that prayer. Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I remember back whenever I was in middle school and it was the first time that we ever really went through it as a family. I was in sixth and seventh grade, my parents were fighting all of the time because of different financial struggles and disagreements about how they thought they should best parent me and my other siblings. And it led to the point where they actually separated for an extended period of time.

My mom filed for a divorce. They were all about to end it, and then somebody invited us to Life Church and that changed everything for us. But during that time, I remember day in and day out, praying and asking God to heal my parents' marriage, and month after month that prayer went unanswered to the point where eventually I just stopped believing in God altogether. So by the time that we actually started going back to church and my parents started working out their issues, I had already given up on God because I felt like God had given up on me. And that's what's so challenging about this passage because if here in this moment, Jesus the Son of God is hanging on this cross and he feels abandoned by God, if God turned his back on Jesus, then why would I ever expect God to be with me when I'm at my lowest moment?

If the sin that Jesus became in that moment was too much for God to look at, then when I sin, does that mean that God doesn't wanna see me either? And maybe you found yourself in a situation where you did something that you know was wrong, right, it was selfish, it was disobedient to God, it hurt somebody else, and you were just overcome with all this guilt and this shame. And maybe you heard people talk about God's grace and his mercy and how that's always available to you, but for some reason you felt like it was too much, that what you did was too bad. And I think that's the problem that sometimes comes with us not understanding what Jesus was doing with the words that he was saying. Because while at face value, it seems like what Jesus is saying is that God left him.

When we start to understand the context, we discover something so much better and so much more beautiful, is that even though Jesus looked abandoned, he never was abandoned. Because if you are reading in the YouVersion Bible App and you get to this part in Matthew's Gospel, 27:46, there's like a little thing you can click on, a little footnote that tells you that these words from Jesus are actually a quote from Psalm 22:1. So Jesus is here quoting from the Old Testament. So if we wanna know what Jesus means, we gotta go and read what it was that he quoted. So if you then click on that, follow it back to Psalm 22:1, here's what we read, Psalm 22:1 and 2 says, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I've groan for help? Every day I call to you my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief".

So based off of what Jesus said, and now what he's quoting, it seems even more obvious that Jesus was abandoned by God, right, like case closed, or is it? Is there more that's going on here? Because if we wanna understand Psalm 22:1 and 2, the best thing we can do is read the rest of the chapter. And as we keep reading, as we understand more of the context of what's happening in that chapter because if we just read one piece of the Bible, instead of reading the entire passage that it's contained within, it's gonna be really easy to misunderstand what's happening. But when we keep reading, we see a sequence of events described in this Psalm that is almost identical to what Jesus experienced in Matthew chapter 27 and his crucifixion.

Like literally, we read about how both Jesus and the psalmists are being hated and made fun of by the people around them. We read about how both of them are surrounded by their enemies, their hands and their feet are pierced. People are rolling dice to figure out who gets their clothes. Like I'm not making this up, literally look at Psalm 22 and read Matthew 27, and just read through it and look at all of the comparisons. And it's really striking how similar what the Psalmist wrote about so long ago was to what Jesus experienced 2000 years ago. Then when we get to verse 22, there is a surprise twist, that if you ask me is even better than that moment in Avengers: Endgame, where it looks like all is lost, the Avengers have been beat down, all you've got left is Captain America walking on his own facing off against Thanos and his armies.

But then the twist happens, you hear the words from his friend Sam, "On your left Cap, the portal's open." and all of the friends of the Avengers show up to go toe to toe with Thanos and his armies. The first time I watched that, the theater erupted in applause because that was the moment where the story shifted. And that's the moment we read about in verse 22 where the Psalmist says, "I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people". Right, this is after 21 verses describing how they felt abandoned by God and abused by people. It goes on to say, "Praise the Lord, all you who fear him, honor him, all you descendants of Jacob, show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel for he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy". Get this. "He, God has not turned his back on them, but he has listened to their cries for help".

God has not turned his back on his people, but he has listened to their cries for help. This Psalm, Psalm 22 begins with the Psalmist crying out because they feel like God has abandoned them. But then when we get to verse 24, we discover the truth that God has not turned his back on his people, that God hears their cries for help. He seeds them when they are suffering because this is what we have to understand about God, that he is not distant or detached, but he is close and compassionate, that even in our lowest moment, he is with us. So when Jesus is hanging on the cross and he cries out, "my God, my God, why have you abandoned me"? He is quoting from this song, a Psalm that starts with what sounds like somebody being abandoned by God, but eventually it shifts, and we discover that the entire time God was there, that God is here. Even in your lowest moment, God is with you, because God never abandoned Jesus on the cross, even though he looked abandoned.

And that's why Jesus said those words, he never was abandoned because just like Hebrews 13:5 tells us, our God will never leave us or forsake us. He is always with us because he's not distant or detached, he's close and compassionate, he is close enough to know. And because of what Jesus did, now we have God, the holy spirit alive inside of us so that everywhere we go, everything we do, God is with us. So back to that question, did God really abandon Jesus on the cross? The answer is no. And when we understand the context of what Jesus was quoting and what that quote was a part of, this picture of somebody who felt like God had left them, but then later discovered that God was always with them. We can walk away with this truth that God never abandoned Jesus when he was on the cross, and God will never abandon you, because just like God was with Jesus at his lowest moment, God will be with us in our lowest moment.

The more we can understand how to read the Bible wisely, the better we can take these difficult passages of scripture and see how beautiful they are, how they paint a picture of God's radical love for us because the entire Bible, it's a story that leads to Jesus and it invites us to become like Jesus. And this is just a taste of what we're wanting to do every week on this show, Bible Nerds is help you better understand how much God loves you and how reading his word can equip you for all of the things that he has for you in your life.

So all of that, that's what happens when we learn to read the Bible, through the lens of remembering that Jesus is king and context is everything. Because when we read the Bible wisely, we better discover how much God loves us and how we can live the lives he's called us to. And so every week, this is what we're gonna do, we're gonna take your questions, we're gonna take passages from the Bible, some things that are sometimes difficult to understand and use those to illustrate just how good God is, and to help you learn how to read the Bible wisely so that you can share these truths and nuggets of wisdom with other people in your life. And so if you've got questions, if you've got thoughts, if you've got suggestions, make sure you comment those down below. If you haven't already, make sure to like the video, subscribe, because we wanna keep providing great content that's valuable for you. With all that being said, take care and stay nerdy.
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