"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?"
Do those words sound familiar? If you are a Christian, you'll recognize them from Jesus' sufferings on Good Friday. But actually, they date back much farther. These words are the first verse of Psalm 22, written by David, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about 1,000 years before Jesus hung on that cross.
So what? God keeps his word, that's what.
God's Word is full of prophecies, and our text today from Psalm 22 is a breathtaking example of that. Open your Bibles and read through these words given by God to His people who were waiting for a Savior. They speak so clearly of the Savior who would be "scorned by men and despised by the people," (Verse 6), mocked and insulted, even quoting the mockers a millennium before they spoke: "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him..." (Psalm 22:8). The piercing of hands and feet, gory details of a crucifixion, all in prophecy long before this world saw it happen.
Let's focus on one of those prophecies, the verse quoted above: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Think about that. Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, true God from all eternity - was forsaken...by God. I cannot comprehend the physics of it, but my faith hears the words and so we say - The Son of Man went forth to war and he was forsaken by God for us, just like the Bible said he would be.
Have you ever felt forsaken? Crying out day and night, not hearing an answer... feeling all alone in your battle, in your weakness, in your walk of faith?
Jesus knows that feeling. Have you felt it, when they call you a hypocrite, because you aren't what you claim to be, and they mock because they don't get what makes you tick? The worst part is, sometimes you think they're right. You have all this talk about faith and strength and confidence, but inside the question looms, "God, why have you forsaken me?"
Or when things don't look like God is really all that close by or that he doesn't really care all that much....and your feelings are worry and stress and feeling overwhelmed. Has Satan come to you and asked, "Did God really say he'll take care of you and watch out for your best interests? Well, see, he isn't."
And friends and family turn out to be not as reliable as you had hoped and the things you counted on didn't come through, and it makes sense for people to mock... "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
Have you felt the sting of those words - when it doesn't seem like God is with us? Do you understand the concept we're exploring today of being forsaken by God?
Truthfully, No, you don't. You should. Absolutely you and I should be forsaken by God. God's Law says that one sin and you can't be in the Holy One's presence. One sin and God ought to turn his back on you. He cannot look on sinfulness, so that means that God cannot look at me, right?
Actually, we'd have no right to ask the question in our text - "Why have you forsaken me?" That answer is obvious. After all God's done for us - we forsook him. We've run from him. We've abandoned Him. That's what sin is. He has every right to forsake us.
But he didn't.
Why? Because God promised that His Son would ask that question. And he did. Read Matthew 27 and see the history. Jesus asked why he was forsaken.
But in the mouth of our Savior, the question makes a whole lot more sense. Jesus is God. Jesus was faithful in every thought, word, and deed. Jesus was holy. He had every right to be in God's presence. But yet, he asked that question for you. Why? The answer is because God loves you.
Jesus asked why God forsook him. The answer is so that he would never have to forsake you. The answer is so that the full punishment of sin could be paid by God's only begotten Son. So you will never be forsaken.
In Christ, Amen.
Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.