Monday, May 06, 2019

Jesus Forsaken??

Many preachers claim that Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” because God the Father had deserted him (Matt 27:46). The idea is that the huge weight of human sins placed on Jesus caused God to turn his face and withdraw his presence from him.

This teaching does not make sense.

Sin is a thought or action. Once a sin or thought is completed, it no longer exists. It becomes an event in the past. What remains is the consequences of the sin. There are three four consequences. The sins themselves do not have any weight, because they disappear into the past, but the consequences can be weighty.

  • Shame and guilt that the person sinning feels. This shame can carry on a long time.

  • Obligation to pay any penalties required by God’s law. God does not demand that these be paid, but the spiritual powers of evil do demand their implementation.

  • Obligations to human courts (these end with death so they are not relevant to this discussion).

  • Requirements to pay a ransom to the powers of evil. If the person sinning submits to them, they have authority over the sinner, and will not let them free without a payment of the ransom.

Jesus died on our behalf. God made him sin so we could be set free.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).
God made Jesus sin, but he did not sin on our behalf. He did not need to do the same sins as we had done to rescue us. He was not doing our sins when he died upon the cross. He could not carry our sins, because they were events in the past. He could not carry them, because they no longer exist (they are not kept in a box somewhere). What he had to deal with on the cross was the consequences of those sins, which continued on.

Jesus died that we might be set free from the consequences of our sin. He did not carry our sins themselves, because they belong to us, so our sin could not separate him from God. Jesus did not sin prior to the cross, or on the cross, so there was no sin that could separate him from the father. He was doing what the father asked him to do, not sinning.

Jesus did not feel our shame or guilt when he was on the cross. He was obeying God, so he did nothing to produce shame. He did not deal with our shame by taking it from us. Rather he dealt with the shame by delivering God’s forgiveness to us. Once we know that God has forgiven us, the basis for the shame disappears.

Jesus' death was the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded for the release of God’s people. That was the price Jesus was paying on the cross. They also demanded the penalties specified in the law for all human sins. Jesus dealt with the consequence of sin by dying for our redemption.

When he agreed to die the cross, he placed himself in the hands of the Roman governor and soldiers who would crucify him. He was not just submitting to them, but also to the spiritual powers of evil that controlled them. This is why Jesus' death on the cross brought him so much anguish. The spiritual powers of evil were free to torment him in any way that they chose.

My understanding is that in Jesus time, the Psalms were not numbered, so they were referenced by quoting the first line. So when Jesus said, "My God, why have you forsaken me", he was really crying out "Psalm 22". Jesus was saying that the prophecy of the psalm was being fulfilled in his death.

Psalm 22 explained what was happening to Jesus. He was surrounded by hostile evil spirits. These are the bull, lions and dogs that the Psalmist refers to. Jesus submission to the Jewish leaders and the Roman governor gave them authority to attack and torment him.

Jesus was not alone, because God was angry with sinful humans. Because the father loves the son, he felt or the agony that Jesus felt. However, the father could not rescue Jesus, as he would usually do, if Jesus called out for help (Psalm 22:5). God had to leave Jesus to face death on his own, because only a man could pay the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded. This was not God’s will. He would have preferred to rescue Jesus. However, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the payment of a perfect human life for the redemption of the humans who had come under their control.

The spiritual powers of evil forced the Father to allow Jesus to suffer alone on the cross. He hated doing that, but he did it because that was the only way that Jesus could pay the redemption fee and set humanity free from bondage to the spiritual powers of evil. God suffered with Jesus, but separately, so that his death would count for every human who puts their trust in Jesus.

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