Bible Society of South Africa
Frank Retief

Remember his strength – Day 16

Dereliction

Bible text(s)

34At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”

Mark 15:34GNBOpen in Bible reader

A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise

1My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

I have cried desperately for help,

but still it does not come.

2During the day I call to you, my God,

but you do not answer;

I call at night,

but get no rest.

3But you are enthroned as the Holy One,

the one whom Israel praises.

4Our ancestors put their trust in you;

they trusted you, and you saved them.

5They called to you and escaped from danger;

they trusted you and were not disappointed.

6But I am no longer a human being; I am a worm,

despised and scorned by everyone!

7All who see me jeer at me;

they stick out their tongues and shake their heads.

8“You relied on the LORD,” they say.

“Why doesn't he save you?

If the LORD likes you,

why doesn't he help you?”

9It was you who brought me safely through birth,

and when I was a baby, you kept me safe.

10I have relied on you since the day I was born,

and you have always been my God.

11Do not stay away from me!

Trouble is near,

and there is no one to help.

12Many enemies surround me like bulls;

they are all round me,

like fierce bulls from the land of Bashan.

13They open their mouths like lions,

roaring and tearing at me.

14My strength is gone,

gone like water spilt on the ground.

All my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like melted wax.

15My throat is as dry as dust,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

You have left me for dead in the dust.

16An evil gang is round me;

like a pack of dogs they close in on me;

they tear at my hands and feet.

17All my bones can be seen.

My enemies look at me and stare.

18They gamble for my clothes

and divide them among themselves.

19O LORD, don't stay away from me!

Come quickly to my rescue!

20Save me from the sword;

save my life from these dogs.

21Rescue me from these lions;

I am helpless before these wild bulls.

22I will tell my people what you have done;

I will praise you in their assembly:

23“Praise him, you servants of the LORD!

Honour him, you descendants of Jacob!

Worship him, you people of Israel!

24He does not neglect the poor or ignore their suffering;

he does not turn away from them,

but answers when they call for help.”

25In the full assembly I will praise you for what you have done;

in the presence of those who worship you

I will offer the sacrifices I promised.

26The poor will eat as much as they want;

those who come to the LORD will praise him.

May they prosper for ever!

27All nations will remember the LORD.

From every part of the world they will turn to him;

all races will worship him.

28The LORD is king,

and he rules the nations.

29All proud people will bow down to him;

all mortals will bow down before him.

30Future generations will serve him;

they will speak of the Lord to the coming generation.

31People not yet born will be told:

“The Lord saved his people.”

Many people have felt utterly forsaken by God at different times in their lives. King David certainly did, during one of the courses in his life. He wrote a psalm about it, Psalm 22. It is the opening verse of this psalm that Jesus quotes on the cross.

Did I say, “quotes on the cross”? This is hardly a description for what happened there, that Good Friday. It was more likely a shout, a shriek, a howl of deep anguish. In this verse alone, correctly understood, we have the whole gospel story. Everything culminates in Christ and his death on the cross. It is here on the cross that something so deep and profound is happening, that no human mind can adequately conceive of it. “Forsaken by God”? Is it possible? Dear reader, what you are confronted with here is the mystery of Christ suffering for our sins. Who can tell what that suffering entails? Here is a man facing judgement for us. The final banishment, which we should face, is now being visited upon him. He is bearing our sins so that we might be forgiven.

Please do not take this lightly. What is happening here is more than words can describe. We all need to bow in wonder and amazement that such a thing should happen. God punishes his own Son on our behalf, so that we might go free! Has the world ever heard of such a thing!

Nevertheless, the truth is, it happened. This means that there is hope for everyone who comes to him. The scandal of the cross is that even the most undeserving of human beings, who turn to Jesus in true repentance, find forgiveness, acceptance and hope for the future. This scandalises the sense of those who live decently and uprightly, and whose ideas of justice demands that evil people should be punished. However, what they do not understand is that evil people have indeed been punished. The One who stood in for them has borne their punishment. A fair exchange has been made. He who knew no sin became sin for them, so that they could become the righteousness of God in him.

Is there a name for this kind of action? Yes, it is grace! Grace, undeserved mercy to the world of sinners, provided they turn to the best of men – indeed, the God/Man, who became this redeemer on the cross.

Let no one despair. All sin may be forgiven. All sinners may be accepted. There is room at the cross for you – only come! Come, even today!

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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