Thursday, June 12, 2008

Did God Abandon Jesus?

(It's still a lot of questions, but a little more focused than the previous post - one thing at a time!)

According to Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34), when Jesus was dying on the cross, he said these words:

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

Did God leave him alone? If he did, why?

The teaching that this was the point at which Christ took on Sin and was separated from God has never settled well with my soul. God abandons us when we sin. That's what this teaching implies. Does that sound right to you?

Why does the more detailed account of Christ's last words in Luke (Ch. 23) not include this outcry?


Kc said...

” Did God leave him alone?”

While this is widely debated it is difficult for me to accept otherwise. To do so requires one or more concessions be made for no reason other than to dismiss the text.

” If he did, why?”

Again this is widely debated and though I assure you I have no special revelation I do have a suspicion, which may, or may not, be correct.

My suspicion is founded on my reading of the 22nd Psalm, Isaiah 53, 1st Peter 2 and Hebrews 4 among others. I suspect that Christ took our place in judgment. I’m sure you’re saying, “well, duh”, but what I’m saying is that I think He took our place positionally in judgment.

I understand that we abandon God when we commit sin and from that position we can no longer commune with Him because He is holy. When Christ took our place He did so, not by sin, but in obedience to the will of God the Father. He did not forsake God, as we do, yet He offered Himself in our place, in our sinful position, and the Father forsook Him for our sake.

Missy I don’t think this scripture teaches that God forsakes us when we sin. I think it teaches that God forsook Christ on the Cross and I believe this too was for our sake.

I don’t know of any significance for the omission of this account in Luke but it doesn’t provoke me to dismiss Luke. ;-)

Another Voice said...

I so appreciate how you can keep me in scripture in these times of wrestling!

"While this is widely debated it is difficult for me to accept otherwise. To do so requires one or more concessions be made for no reason other than to dismiss the text.

KC, yes, this has been my dilemma as well. Also, to look at it as a purely emotional reaction seems to be inconsistent with Jesus' character in the whole of scripture.

I'm really struggling right now with what sin is to God, now that I am faithful that God will not forsake me for sinning. I'm having to unravel some misunderstandings here. I hope this explains why I'm following this path.

I see your conclusion from the scriptures you've given, but not as clearly as I'd like. I still feel something not clicking for me.

If Christ has taken on our judgement, which is clearly death and being forsaken by the Father, why is it that Jesus can then overcome death and rejoin the Father?

My theory was, as you said, Jesus did not forsake God. He remained faithful, as only God can. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Then that takes me back to defining why sin separates us from God. If it is the deed itself or the the lack of faith that leads to the deed?

Kc said...

I can see how difficult it is to come to an understanding on sin. It may help to realize that we can’t know sin unless God reveals it. That doesn’t mean we can’t have some understanding on it but I think we should accept that only God could reveal our sin.

I don’t know if this helps but I really don’t find scripture to indicate that God has ever forsaken anyone but Christ while He was on the Cross and the Cross is not the end of the story of Christ. To the contrary it seems He has always provided a means of reconciliation and only doubt prevents anyone from availing himself or herself of His providence. You ask how Jesus could overcome death and I find the answer is by the all-sufficient power of God.

With respect to sin and faith it seems you have two questions. The first is why sin separates us from God and the second pertains to the origin of sin. Many I speak with consider sinful deeds the consequence of sin and sin itself as privation. I understand this is contrary to the Jewish perspective, which holds that sin is a deed or an act.

Regarding faith, I don’t believe that faith keeps us from sin. That is only accomplished through the power of God but that power is only made available by God’s grace through our faith in Christ.

dorsey said...

It's probably worth noting that Luke was the only gospel writer who didn't witness the events firsthand. He is offering an account to Theophilus according to what had been handed down from those who had been there (Luke 1:1-4). This may account for what appears to be license.

The other scripture that comes to mind regarding your struggle to pin down the nature of sin (if I'm reading you correctly) is the first portion of Romans 8, that speaks of there being no condemnation to those in Christ, because His law of the spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

The way I read it, you are, arguably, no longer under the old law. Jesus satisfied it. If substitutionary atonement is correct, then it stands to reason that Christ experienced the separation from God that judgement requires.

You, however, are now under the law of the spirit of life in Christ. Not that you never sin, just that you are no longer controlled by the sinful nature. And, even though you do sin, The Father does not hold it against you, Jesus satisfied your debt to The Father. Your obligation is now to Christ. I presume this is why God has handed judgement over to Jesus.

Another passage that comes to mind is in James 2 (I think), telling us to act as people who will be judged according to the law of freedom, according to the way we show love to one another, not according to the law of sin.

Paul G said...

Another Voice;
I accidentally stumbled on your site and hope you don’t mind me making a comment.

The question which troubles you, ‘whether God left Jesus on the cross or not’ can never be satisfactory understood in your understanding of God.

If you say that on the cross God left Jesus, then you say that Jesus Christ is NOT the Lord God.

If you say that Jesus is the Lord God, then who is that other God who left Him?

Surely you can not believe that there are two Gods?
To believe that would be the transgression of the first commandment.

Another Voice said...

"It may help to realize that we can’t know sin unless God reveals it. That doesn’t mean we can’t have some understanding on it but I think we should accept that only God could reveal our sin."

Thank you for reminding me of this, KC. It is a lesson I learned already but so easily forget.

I agree that I have also not found any other circumstance of God forsaking any other for sin. And this is one of my issues about sin. I was taught that sin separates us from God, but I argue it does not. This supports that.

Reading through this, it is judgement of our sin that separates us. There is a scripture I cannot find - maybe you know of it - that says God, in His wisdom, withheld judgment from men so that He could be merciful. And the choice is the gift of the Holy Spirit who helps us judge ourselves (John 16:5-11) and repent (Ezekiel 18) or to accept the judgment of the dead (Rev 20).

So God has chosen to judge Christ in our place - this is the atonement. Then I get hung up on the fact that if Jesus is judged, He would only be forsaken if He is found guilty. Is it the flesh? - the flesh is guilty and there is "original sin" or a "sinful nature" clinging to it and death is overcome only when the flesh is separated from the Spirit?

(I must be exasperating you! See why I often lack sleep?)

Another Voice said...

Dorsey and Paul - I'll be back. We are taking Mr. Right to the beach to celebrate Father's Day and the family is getting impatient to leave...

Kc said...

Sis I’ve never found you exasperating. ;-)

I understand that when we sin we are drawn away from God by our own lust. Our separation or distance from God is not due to Him having forsaken us. In our sin we have forsaken Him. Had He forsaken us there would be no hope at all because there is absolutely nothing we can do to reconcile for the wrong we have done Him. If we were required to reconcile with God then the separation would be permanent and death would be eternal. We praise God because He provided that reconciliation through Himself in Christ Jesus and there is no more condemnation and no more separation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even death will not keep us apart from God.

I lack the time at the moment (and probably the ability) to go too far into the discussion on judgment but basically I understand that we are already judged and it may be more accurate, in today’s language, to say that Jesus suffered our condemnation.

(Hope you had a great time today!) ;-)

Another Voice said...

Dorsey, I find that info about Luke interesting, esp. in light of my prior posting about the "Infallibility of the Saints."

The rest of what you say, you describe so simply. I think I get very caught up in needing to know "why & how." Maybe that is futile and unnecessary?

I hope to see you around despite your hiatus. You seem very grounded in reality. I need a bit of that most days. :)

Another Voice said...

Welcome, Paul!

I must admit similar thoughts have also crossed my mind in considering Jesus' exclamation.

So then, how do you interpret this scripture?


Another Voice said...

KC, I think I am using "judgment" and "condemnation" interchangably. I should not be. You were very kind to point that out in the merciful way you always do. :)

I think that was the puzzle-piece that was missing. I'll mull it over for a time.

Thanks, Bro!

Paul G said...

Thank you Missy for your warm welcome!

Like it is with all Scripture concerning God, it must be understood in Jesus Christ our Lord and God.
Because all Scripture points to the Lord Jesus Christ and so should we!
If we believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord God the Almighty the creator of all things and that there is no other person or persons who are also a God next to Him, then it is easier to understand the cross.

Jesus Christ the Lord God who is Spirit (John 4:24) became flesh, or a man, or clothed Himself in flesh, which ever you prefer, subjected Himself to death on a cross for our sins and transgressions.

God is Spirit (John 4:24), It is impossible to nail a spirit to a cross, unless that spirit is clothed in flesh Jesus Christ our Lord.
From the position of a man (flesh), He cried out to His Spirit who is God (John 4:24), why have you forsaken me.
Jesus, who is the Lord God, condemned, forsook and rejected His own flesh on the cross for our redemption.
All that must be in the ONE person Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul G said...

I like your comment on judgment and can see that you really understand the atonement of Jesus on the cross.

If we do not fully understand the atonement, we tend to walk in condemnation and not in the victory of Jesus.
Again kc; Amen and amen!

Another Voice said...

Thank you, Paul! I agree that all scripture is Christ and Jesus is God.

Keith Brenton said...

I think the classic answer is that God had to turn His back upon His own Son because His Son was bearing on Himself the sin of all mankind for all time. As both God and man, Jesus could do what God's holy nature is repulsed by.

Perhaps so. But ...

Could God not bear to watch His Son die? Or is it that He could see nothing else in the universe but His Son, willing to die for us? If He had stayed as close to the heart of His Son as He could, would God have been able to let the cup pass for Christ - and thereby condemn all mankind?

It's a legitimate question from a dying Savior: "Why are you letting this happen, God? Has it all been for nothing? Or will You make it worth my life by forgiving them what they don't understand they're doing?"

Another layer to the lines Jesus quoted, though, is the remainder of Psalm 22, which includes: "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you."

In some sense, Jesus almost certainly made the effort while dying to include these among His last mortal words in order to trigger the realization in those present that He was the fulfillment of prophecy at that very moment.

Through Him, all nations of the earth would be blessed; would remember and turn to the Lord; would proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn "for He has accomplished it." (Latter verses of Psalm 22)

Then, among His final words, were: "It is accomplished."

Another Voice said...

Thanks for the visit Keith, I really appreciated your last post and had to speak up. I've been lurking there for a little while.

"It's a legitimate question from a dying Savior: 'Why are you letting this happen, God? Has it all been for nothing? Or will You make it worth my life by forgiving them what they don't understand they're doing?'"

Yes, I can see the legitimacy of that question phrased in such a way with that particular sentiment behind it. That really does make sense. What still does not make any sense to me is that God must turn His back on sinners in repulsion - as in your original paragraph above. I am having difficulty fully discovering this premise in scripture. I can see the disgust with the sin and the judgement to follow for sin leads to death and God would want to deter me from that. I'm working on reconciling the concepts of sin and holiness as represented in scripture and this idea of Jesus taking on my sin and how God can do that seems key.

Thanks, again, for the input!