Jesus Was Not Forsaken
Have you ever felt someone else’s pain? As a Father, I often feel the pain of my kids. I love them so much I can identify with what they are going through. Other times I feel others pain through compassion. I remember one particular time I was working with the homeless in the City, I had a brief interaction with a woman. As I left her I could not shake this feeling of loneliness. It was as though I was feeling her pain – like really experiencing what was happening in her heart.
The Bible tells us that this is the gift of burden bearing. It’s the idea that a burden is placed on our hearts, so that we can carry this to God on their behalf.
It could be:
carrying a friends grief to the Father on their behalf,
carrying a strangers loneliness to the Father on their behalf,
carrying someones pain and hurt to the Father for healing.
It’s as though their pain, or situation is so dark that they cannot see a way out for themselves – and so the burden is shared, and we step in on their behalf to surrender their pain in faith. The burden is placed on us so we can deal with it, when they can’t.
Now let’s turn our eyes to Jesus. As Jesus hung on the cross, He uttered the famous words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34) These words are taken from Psalm 22 verse 1.
This passage prophetically foretells the scene of the cross. It predicts people mocking Jesus, (v8) Jesus being thirsty, (V15) Jesus hands and feet being pierced, (v16) and soldiers gambling for His clothes. (v18)
At first glance it does look like Jesus has been abandoned. After all, He did say, “God! Why did you abandon me?” But as we read on through the Psalm we read something interesting…
“He (God) has not hidden His face from Him but has listened to His cry for help.” (v24)
Throughout the New Testament we are reminded of the faithfulness of Jesus. We read that Jesus is a faithful high priest who intercedes for us. (Read Hebrews) This lines up perfectly with the prophetic picture of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.
In Isaiah 53:6 we are told that the iniquities (perversity, depravity, darkness) of the world were laid on Jesus. The prophet uses two main pictures to describe how these things came upon Jesus.
The first is “plagued.” (v4 and 8 – but note that this is often mistranslated to mean punished when the word is used as plagued every other time in the OT) The idea is that Jesus was infected with our sin-sickness. This is how Jesus describes sin as well in the gospel accounts.
The second is a word that is simply translated as “laid” in verse 6. However this word does not go far enough in English. This same word is used later on in verse 12 to mean “intercession” or praying on others behalf.
Here we see what happened to Jesus on the cross. Jesus experienced our sin-sickness, our darkness and despair as He died upon the cross. He was plagued by our sin. But it wasn’t His. This darkness was laid on Him as a prayer burden. A burden we could not carry. But Jesus took it on Himself and defeated it for us.
His declaration of Psalm 22:1 from the cross was saying that He felt our pain. He experienced what we go through with our fallen worldview. Yet, instead of succumbing to the darkness, He took it to the Father in faith. Just as Psalm 22 verse 1 and the predictive verses were fulfilled, so was verse 24.
Jesus fully experienced our pain and darkness yet remained faithful. Just as we can carry a prayer burden to the Father on our friends behalf, Jesus carried our burden away so we don’t need to.
What does this mean for us today? It means every dark thought you have ever had, Jesus has had too. Every battle in your mind and heart you have fought, Jesus has too. Every feeling of guilt and shame, Jesus has had too.
When we feel those dark thoughts we often think God has abandoned us. We think God has left us. Or that God doesn’t like us, doesn’t care, or is straight up punishing us. Jesus felt that too. But Jesus shows us that The Father has not left us at all. It’s just a matter of perspective. The apostle Paul said that we were alienated from God because we were enemies in our own minds! (Colossians 1:21)
Knowing what Jesus went through means that He can now identify with all your sin-sickness, all your darkness and despair. Just as Jesus was not forsaken, neither are you! He knows your heart and has committed to never leaving nor forsaking you. You are not alone. You are not defeated. He has carried your sin and shame away. The only question now, is will you accept it, let go and experience the freedom and life of knowing that God has His face firmly fixed on you?
Bonus: If you have never responded to Jesus invitation for forgiveness, freedom, life and healing but would like to, I’d love to chat and pray with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org