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Lama Sabachthani?
AUTHOR: Spurgeon, C.H.
PUBLISHED ON: April 3, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Sermons

                                            Lama Sabachthani?

                                                        A Sermon
                                                      (No. 2133)
                              Delivered on Lord’s-day Morning, March 2nd, 1890,
                                                  C. H. SPURGEON,
                                    At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

              “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to
              say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

          THERE WAS DARKNESS over all the land unto the ninth hour”: this cry came out of that darkness.
          Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded
          Sun of Righteousness. There is light in it, bright, flashing light: but there is a centre of impenetrable
          gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.
          Our Lord was then in the darkest part of his way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work
          was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of his anguish. This is his dolorous lament from the
          lowest pit of misery “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I do not think that the records of time or
          even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other
          bitternesses, are outdone. Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till
          sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable. This anguish of the
          Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love
          which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.
              I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations
          to their redeeming Lord. You shall measure the height of his love, if it be ever mea-sured, by the depth of his
          grief, if that can ever be known. See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see
          this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be! What measure of love ought we to return to one
          who bore the utmost penalty, that we might he delivered from the wrath to come? I do not profess that I can dive
          into this deep: I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God
          to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness “My
          God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
              Our first subject of thought will be the fact; or, what he suffered God had forsaken him. Secondly, we will
          note, the enquiry; or, why he suffered: this word “why” is the edge of the text. “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
          Then, thirdly, we will consider the answer; or, what came of his suffering. The answer flowed softly into the soul
          of the Lord Jesus without the need of words, for he ceased from his anguish with the triumphant shout of, “It is
          finished.” His work was finished, and his bearing of desertion was a chief part of the work he had undertaken for
          our sake.
              I. By the help of the Holy Spirit, let us first dwell upon THE FACT; or, what our Lord suffered. God had
          forsaken him. Grief of mind is harder to bear than pain of body. You can pluck up courage and endure the pang of
          sickness and pain, so long as the spirit is hale and brave; but if the soul itself be touched, and the mind becomes
          diseased with anguish, then every pain is increased in severity, and there is nothing with which to sustain it.
          Spiritual sorrows are the worst of mental miseries. A man may bear great depression of spirit about worldly
          matters, if he feels that he has his God to go to. He is cast down, but not in despair. Like David, he dialogues with
          himself, and he enquires, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in
          God: for I shall yet praise him.” But if the Lord be once withdrawn, if the comfortable light of his presence be
          shadowed even for an hour, there is a torment within the breast, which I can only liken to the prelude of hell. This
          is the greatest of all weights that can press upon the heart. This made the Psalmist plead, “Hide not thy face from
          me; put not thy servant away in anger.” We can bear a bleeding body, and even a wounded spirit; but a soul
          conscious of desertion by God it beyond conception unendurable. When he holdeth back the face of his throne,
          and spreadeth his cloud upon it, who can endure the darkness?
              This voice out of “the belly of hell” marks the lowest depth of the Saviour’s grief. The desertion was real.
          Though under some aspects our Lord could say, “The Father is with me”; yet was it solemnly true that God did
          forsake him. It was not a failure of faith on his part which led him to imagine what was not actual fact. Our faith
          fails us, and then we think that God has forsaken us; but our Lord’s faith did not for a moment falter, for he says
          twice, “My God, my God.” Oh, the mighty double grip of his unhesitating faith! He seems to say, “Even if thou
          hast forsaken me, I have not forsaken thee.” Faith triumphs, and there is no sign of any faintness of heart towards
          the living God. Yet, strong as is his faith, he feels that God has withdraw his comfortable fellowship, and he
          shivers under the terrible deprivation.
              It was no fancy, or delirium of mind, caused by his weakness of body, the heat of the fever, the depression of
          his spirit, or the near approach of death. He was clear of mind even to this last. He bore up under pain, loss of
          blood, scorn, thirst, and desolation; making no complaint of the cross, the nails, and the scoffing. We read not in
          the Gospels of anything more than the natural cry of weakness, I thirst.” All the tortures of his body he endured in
          silence; but when it came to being forsaken of God, then his great heart burst out into its “Lama sabachthani?” His
          one moan is concerning his God. It is not, “Why has Peter forsaken me? Why has Judas betrayed me?” These
          were sharp griefs, but this is the sharpest. This stroke has cut him to the quick: “My God, my God, why hast thou
          forsaken me?” It was no phantom of the gloom; it was a real absence which he mourned.
              This was a very remarkable desertion. It is not the way of God to leave either his sons or his servants. His
          saints, when they come to die, in their great weakness and pain, find him near. They are made to sing because of
          the presence of God: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou
          art with me.” Dying saints have clear visions of the living God. Our observation has taught us that if the Lord be
          away at other times, he is never absent from his people in the article of death, or in the fur-nace of affliction.
          Concerning the three holy children, we do not read that the Lord was ever visibly with them till they walked the
          fires of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace; but there and then the Lord met with them. Yes, beloved, it is God’s use and
          wont to keep company with his afflicted people; and yet he forsook his Son in the hour of his tribulation! How
          usual it is to see the Lord with his faithful wit-nesses when resisting even unto blood! Read the Book of Martyrs,
          and I care not whether you study the former or the later persecutions, you will find them all lit up with the evident
          presence of the Lord with his witnesses. Did the Lord ever fail to support a martyr at the stake? Did he ever
          forsake one of his testifiers upon the scaffold? The testimony of the church has always been, that while the Lord
          has permitted his saints to suffer in body he has so divinely sustained their spirits that they have been more than
          conquerors, and have treated their sufferings as light afflictions. The fire has not been a “bed of roses,” but it has
          been a chariot of victory. The sword is sharp, and death is bitter; but the love of Christ is sweet, and to die for him
          has been turned into glory. No, it is not God’s way to forsake his champions, nor to leave even the least of his
          children in the trial hour.
              As to our Lord, this forsaking was singular. Did his Father ever leave him before? Will you read the four
          Evangelists through and find any previous instance in which he complains of his Father for having forsaken him?
          No. He said, “I know that thou hearest me always.” He lived in constant touch with God. His fellowship with the
          Father was always near and dear and clear; but now, for the first time, he cries, “why hast thou forsaken me?” It
          was very remark-able. It was a riddle only to be solved by the fact that he loved us and gave himself for us and in
          the execution of his loving purpose came even unto this sorrow, of mourning the absence of his God.
              This forsaking was very terrible. Who can fully tell what it is to be forsaken of God? We can only form a
          guess by what we have our-selves felt under temporary and partial desertion. God has never left us, altogether; for
          he has expressly said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”; yet we have sometimes felt as if he had cast us
          off. We have cried, “Oh, that I know where I might find him!” The clear shinings of his love have been
          withdrawn. Thus we are able to form some little idea of how the Saviour felt when his God had for-saken him.
          The mind of Jesus was left to dwell upon one dark subject, and no cheering theme consoled him. It was the hour
          in which he was made to stand before God as consciously the sin-bearer, according to that ancient prophecy, “He
          shall bear their iniquities.” Then was it true, “He hath made him to be sin for us.” Peter puts it, “He his own self
          bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Sin, sin, sin was every where around and about Christ. He had no sin
          of his own; but the Lord had “laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He had no strength given him from on high, no
          secret oil and wine poured into his wounds; but he was made to appear in the lone character of the Lamb of God,
          which taketh away the sin of the world; and therefore he must feel the weight of sin, and the turning away of that
          sacred face which cannot look thereon.
              His Father, at that time, gave him no open acknowledgment. On certain other occasions a voice had been
          heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”; but now, when such a testimony seemed
          most of all required, the oracle was dumb. He was hung up as an accursed thing upon the cross; for he was “made
          a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”; and the Lord his God did not own him
          before men. If it had pleased the Father, he might have sent him twelve legions of angels; but not an angel came
          after the Christ had quitted Gethsemane. His despisers might spit in his face, but no swift seraph came to avenge
          the indignity. They might bind him, and scourge him, but none of all the heavenly host would interpose to screen
          his shoulders from the lash. They might fasten him to the tree with nails, and lift him up, and scoff at him; but no
          cohort of ministering spirits hastened to drive back the rabble, and release the Prince of life. No, he appeared to be
          forsaken, “smitten of God, and afflicted,” delivered into the hands of cruel men, whose wicked hands worked him
          misery without stint. Well might he ask, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
              But this was not all. His Father now dried up that sacred stream of peaceful communion and loving fellowship
          which had flowed hitherto throughout his whole earthly life. He said himself, as you remember, “Ye shall be
          scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
          Here was his constant comfort: but all comfort from this source was to be withdrawn. The divine Spirit did not
          minister to his human spirit. No communications with his Father’s love poured into his heart. It was not possible
          that the Judge should smile upon one who repre-sented the prisoner at the bar. Our Lord’s faith did not fail him, as
          I have already shown you, for he said, “My God, my God”: yet no sen-sible supports were given to his heart, and
          no comforts were poured into his mind. One writer declares that Jesus did not taste of divine wrath, but only
          suffered a withdrawal of divine fellowship. What is the differ-ence? Whether God withdraw heat or create cold is
          all one. He was not smiled upon, nor allowed to feel that he was near to God; and this, to his tender spirit, was
          grief of the keenest order. A certain saint once said that in his sorrow he had from God “necessaries, but not
          suavities”; that which was meet, but not that which was sweet. Our Lord suffered to the extreme point of
          deprivation. He had not the light which makes existence to be life, and life to be a boon. You that know, in your
          degree, what it is to lose the conscious pre-sense and love of God, you can faintly guess what the sorrow of the
          Saviour was, now that he felt he had been forsaken of his God. “If the foundations be removed, what can the
          righteous do?” To our Lord, the Father’s love was the foundation of everything; and when that was gone, all was
          gone. Nothing remained, within, without, above, when his own God, the God of his entire confidence, turned from
          him. Yes, God in very deed forsook our Saviour.
              To be forsaken of God was much more a source of anguish to Jesus than it would be to us. “Oh,” say you,
          “how is that?” I answer, because he was perfectly holy. A rupture between a perfectly holy being and the thrice
          holy God must be in the highest degree strange, abnormal, perplexing, and painful. If any man here, who is not at
          peace with God, could only know his true condition, he would swoon with fright. If you unforgiven ones only
          knew where you are, and what you are at this moment in the sight of God, you would never smile again till you
          were reconciled to him. Alas! we are insensible, hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and therefore we do not feel
          our true condition. His perfect holiness made it to our Lord a dreadful calamity to be forsaken of the thrice holy
          God.
              I remember, also, that our blessed Lord had lived in unbroken fellowship with God, and to be forsaken was a
          new grief to him. He had never known what the dark was till then: his life had been lived in the light of God.
          Think, dear child of God, if you had always dwelt in full communion with God, your days would have been as the
          days of heaven upon earth; and how cold it would strike to your heart to find yourself in the darkness of desertion.
          If you can conceive such a thing as happening to a perfect man, you can see why to our Well-beloved it was a
          special trial. Remember, he had enjoyed fellowship with God more richly, as well as more constantly, than any of
          us. His fellowship with the Father was of the highest, deepest, fullest order; and what must the loss of it have
          been? We lose but drops when we lose our joyful experience of heavenly fellowship; and yet the loss is killing: but
          to our Lord Jesus Christ the sea was dried up I mean his sea of fellowship with the infinite God.
              Do not forget that he was such a One that to him to be without God must have been an overwhelming
          calamity. In every part he was perfect, and in every part fitted for communion with God to a supreme degree. A
          sinful man has an awful need of God, but he does not know it; and therefore he does not feel that hunger and
          thirst after God which would come upon a perfect man could he be deprived of God. The very perfection of his
          nature renders it inevitable that the holy man must either be in communion with God, or be desolate. Imagine a
          stray angel! a seraph who has lost his God! Conceive him to be perfect in holiness, and yet to have fallen into a
          condition in which he cannot find his God! I cannot picture him; perhaps a Milton might have done so. He is
          sinless and trustful, and yet he has an overpowering feeling that God is absent from him. He has drifted into the
          nowhere the unimaginable region behind the back of God. I think I hear the wailing of the cherub: “My God, my
          God, my God, where art thou?” What a sorrow for one of the sons of the morning! But here we have the lament
          of a Being far more capable of fellowship with the Godhead. In proportion as he is more fitted to receive the love
          of the great Father, in that proportion is his pining after it the more intense. As a Son, he is more able to commune
          with God than ever a servant-angel could be; and now that he is forsaken of God, the void within is the greater,
          and the anguish more bitter.
              Our Lord’s heart, and all his nature were, morally and spiritually, so delicately formed, so sensitive, so tender,
          that to be without God, was to him a grief which could not be weighed. I see him in the text bearing desertion, and
          yet I perceive that he cannot bear it. I know not how to express my meaning except by such a paradox. He cannot
          endure to be without God. He had surrendered himself to be left of God, as the representative of sinners must be,
          but his pure and holy nature, after three hours of silence, finds the position unendurable to love and purity; and
          breaking forth from it, now that the hour was over, he exclaims, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” He quarrels not
          with the suffering, but he cannot abide in the position which caused it. He seems as if he must end the ordeal, not
          because of the pain, but because of the moral shock. We have here the repetition after his passion of that loathing
          which he felt before it, when he cried, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as
          thou wilt.” “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is the holiness of Christ amazed at the position of
          substitute for guilty men.
              There, friends; I have done my best, but I seem to myself to have been prattling like a little child, talking about
          something infinitely above me. So I leave the solemn fact, that our Lord Jesus was on the tree forsaken of his
          God.
              II. This brings us to consider THE ENQUIRY or, why he suffered.
              Note carefully this cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is pure anguish, undiluted agony,
          which crieth like this; but it is the agony of a godly soul; for only a man of that order would have used such an
          expression. Let us learn from it useful lessons. This cry is taken from “the Book.” Does it not show our Lord’s
          love of the sacred volume, that when he felt his sharpest grief, he turned to the Scripture to find a fit utterance for
          it? Here we have the opening sentence of the twenty-second Psalm. Oh, that we may so love the inspired Word
          that we may not only sing to its score, but even weep to its music!
              Note, again, that our Lord’s lament is an address to God. The godly, in their anguish, turn to the hand which
          smites them. The Saviour’s outcry is not against God, but to God. “My God, my God”: he makes a double effort
          to draw near. True Sonship is here. The child in the dark is crying after his Father “My God, my God.” Both the
          Bible and prayer were dear to Jesus in his agony.
              Still, observe, it is a faith-cry; for though it asks, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” yet it first says, twice over,
          “My God, my God.” The grip of appropriation is in the word “my”; but the reverence of humility is in the word
          “God.” It is “‘My God, my God,’ thou art ever God to me, and I a poor creature. I do not quarrel with thee. Thy
          rights are unquestioned, for thou art my God. Thou canst do as thou wilt, and I yield to thy sacred sovereignty. I
          kiss the hand that smites me, and with all my heart I cry, ‘My God, my God.'” When you are delirious with pain,
          think of your Bible still: when your mind wanders, let it roam towards the mercy seat; and when your heart and
          your flesh fail, still live by faith, and still cry, “My God, my God.”
              Let us come close to the enquiry. It looked to me, at first sight, like a question as of one distraught, driven
          from the balance of his mind not unreasonable, but too much reasoning, and therefore tossed about. “Why hast
          thou forsaken me?” Did not Jesus know? Did he not know why he was forsaken? He knew it most distinctly, and
          yet his manhood, while it was being crushed, pounded, dissolved, seemed as though it could not understand the
          reason for so great a grief. He must be forsaken; but could there be a sufficient cause for so sickening a sorrow?
          The cup must be bitter; but why this most nauseous of ingredients? I tremble lest I say what I ought not to say. I
          have said it, and I think there is truth the Man of Sorrows was overborne with horror. At that moment the finite
          soul of the man Christ Jesus came into awful contact with the infinite justice of God. The one Mediator between
          God and man, the man Christ Jesus, beheld the holiness of God in arms against the sin of man, whose nature he
          had espoused. God was for him and with him in a certain unquestionable sense; but for the time, so far as his
          feeling went, God was against him, and necessarily withdrawn from him. It is not surprising that the holy soul of
          Christ should shudder at finding itself brought into painful contact with the infinite justice of God, even though its
          design was only to vindicate that justice, and glorify the Law-giver. Our Lord could now say, “All thy waves and
          thy billows are gone over me” and therefore he uses language which is all too hot with anguish to be dissected by
          the cold hand of a logical criticism. Grief has small regard for the laws of the grammarian. Even the holiest, when
          in extreme agony, though they cannot speak otherwise than according to purity and truth, yet use a language of
          their own, which only the ear of sympathy can fully receive. I see not all that is here, but what I can see I am not
          able to put in words for you.
              I think I see, in the expression, submission and resolve. Our Lord does not draw back. There is a forward
          movement in the question: they who quit a business ask no more questions about it. He does not ask that the
          forsaking may end prematurely, he would only understand anew its meaning. He does not shrink, but the rather
          dedicates himself anew to God by the words, “My God, my God,” and by seeking to review the ground and
          reason of that anguish which he is resolute to bear even to the bitter end. He would fain feel anew the motive
          which has sustained him, and must sustain him to the end. The cry sounds to me like deep submission and strong
          resolve, pleading with God.
              Do you not think that the amazement of our Lord, when he was “made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21), led him thus
          to cry out? For such a sacred and pure being to be made a sin-offering was an amazing experience. Sin was laid on
          him, and he was treated as if he had been guilty, though he had personally never sinned; and now the infinite
          horror of rebellion against the most holy God fills his holy soul, the unrighteousness of sin breaks his heart, and he
          starts back from it, crying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Why must I bear the dread result of
          contact I so much abhor?
              Do you not see, moreover, there was here a glance at his eternal purpose, and at his secret source of joy?
          That “why” is the silver lining of the dark cloud, and our Lord looked wishfully at it. He knew that the desertion
          was needful it order that he might save the guilty, and he had an eye to that salvation as his comfort. He is not
          forsaken needlessly, nor without a worthy design. The design is in itself so dear to his heart that he yields to the
          passing evil, even though that evil be like death to him. He looks at that “why,” and through that narrow window
          the light of heaven comes streaming into his darkened life.
              “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Surely our Lord dwelt on that “why,” that we might also
          turn our eyes that way. He would have us see the why and the wherefore of his grief. He would have us mark the
          gracious motive for its endurance. Think much of all your Lord suffered, but do not overlook the reason of it. If
          you cannot always understand how this or that grief worked toward the great end of the whole passion, yet believe
          that it has its share in the grand “why.” Make a life-study of that bitter but blessed question, “Why hast thou
          forsaken me?” Thus the Saviour raises an inquiry not so much for himself as for us; and not so much because of
          any despair within his heart as because of a hope and a joy set before him, which were wells of comfort to him in
          his wilderness of woe.
              Bethink you, for a moment, that the Lord God, in the broadest and most unreserved sense, could never, in
          very deed, have forsaken his most obedient Son. He was ever with him in the grand design of salvation. Towards
          the Lord Jesus, personally, God himself, personally, must ever have stood on terms of infinite love. Truly the
          Only Begotten was never more lovely to the Father than when he was obedient unto death, even the death of the
          cross! But we must look upon God here as the Judge of all the earth, and we must look upon the Lord Jesus also
          in his official capacity, as the Surety of the covenant, and the sacrifice for sin. The great Judge of all cannot smile
          upon him who has become the substitute for the guilty. Sin is loathed of God; and if, in order to its removal his
          own Son is made to bear it, yet, as sin, it is still loathsome, and he who bears it cannot be in happy communion
          with God. This was the dread necessity of expiation; but in the essence of things the love of the great Father to his
          Son never ceased, nor ever knew a diminution. Restrained in its flow it must be, but lessened at its fountain-head
          it could not be. Therefore, wonder not at the question, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
              III. Hoping to be guided by the Holy Spirit, I am coming to THE ANSWER, concerning which I can only use
          the few minutes which remain to me. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” What is the outcome of
          this suffering? What was the reason for it? Our Saviour could answer his own question. If for a moment his
          manhood was perplexed, yet his mind soon came to clear apprehension; for he said, “It is finished”; and, as I have
          already said, he then referred to the work which in his lonely agony he had been performing. Why, then, did God
          forsake his Son? I cannot conceive any other answer than this he stood in our stead. There was no reason in
          Christ why the Father should forsake him: he was perfect, and his life was without spot. God never acts without
          reason; and since there were no reasons in the character and person of the Lord Jesus why his Father should
          forsake him, we must look elsewhere. I do not know how others answer the question. I can only answer it in this
          one way.

                                              “Yet all the griefs he felt were ours,
                                                Ours were the woes he bore;
                                              Pangs, not his own, his spotless soul
                                                  With bitter anguish tore.

                                            “We held him as condemn’d of heaven,
                                                  An outcast from his God;
                                            While for our sins he groaned, he bled,
                                                  Beneath his Father’s rod.”

              He bore the sinner’s sin, and he had to be treated, therefore, as though he were a sinner, though sinner be
          could never be. With his own full consent he suffered as though he had committed the transgressions which were
          laid on him. Our sin, and his taking it upon himself, is the answer to the question, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
              In this case we now see that His obedience was perfect. He came into the world to obey the Father, and he
          rendered that obedience to the very uttermost. The spirit of obedience could go no farther than for one who feels
          forsaken of God still to cling to him in solemn, avowed allegiance, still declaring before a mocking multitude his
          confidence in the afflicting God. It is noble to cry, “My God, my God,” when one is asking, “Why hast thou
          forsaken me?” How much farther can obedience go? I see nothing beyond it. The soldier at the gate of Pompeii
          remaining at his post as sentry when the shower of burning ashes is falling, was not more true to his trust than he
          who adheres to a forsaking God with loyalty of hope.
              Our Lord’s suffering in this particular form was appropriate and necessary. It would not have sufficed for
          our Lord merely to have been pained in body, nor even to have been grieved in mind in other ways: he must
          suffer in this particular way. He must feel forsaken of God, because this is the necessary consequence of sin. For
          a man to be forsaken of God is the penalty which naturally and inevitably follows upon his breaking his relation
          with God. What is death? What was the death that was threatened to Adam? “In the day that thou eatest thereof
          thou shalt surely die.” Is death annihilation? Was Adam annihilated that day? Assuredly not: he lived many a year
          afterwards. But in the day in which he ate of the forbidden fruit he died, by being separated from God. The
          separation of the soul from God is spiritual death; just as the separation of the soul from the body is natural death.
          The sacrifice for sin must be put in the place of separation, and must bow to the penalty of death. By this placing
          of the Great Sacrifice under forsaking and death, it would be seen by all creatures throughout the universe that
          God could not have fellowship with sin. If even the Holy One, who stood the Just for the unjust, found God
          forsaking him, what must the doom of the actual sinner be! Sin is evidently always, in every case, a dividing
          influence, putting even the Christ himself, as a sin-bearer, in the place of distance.
              This was necessary for another reason: there could have been no laying on of suffering for sin without the
          forsaking of the vicarious Sacrifice by the Lord God. So long as the smile of God rests on the man the law is not
          afflicting him. The approving look of the great Judge cannot fall upon a man who is viewed as standing in the
          place of the guilty. Christ not only suffered from sin, but for sin. If God will cheer and sustain him, he is not
          suffering for sin. The Judge is not inflicting suffering for sin if he is manifestly succouring the smitten one. There
          could have been no vicarious suffering on the part of Christ for human guilt, if he had continued consciously to
          enjoy the fall sunshine of the Father’s presence. It was essential to being a victim in our place that he should cry,
          “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
              Beloved, see how marvellously, in the person of Christ, the Lord our God has vindicated his law! If to make
          his law glorious, he had said, “These multitudes of men have broken my law, and therefore they shall perish,” the
          law would have been terribly magnified. But, instead thereof, he says, “Here is my Only Begotten Son, my other
          self; he takes on himself the nature of these rebellions creatures, and he consents that I should lay on him the load
          of their iniquity, and visit in his person the offences which might have been punished in the persons of all these
          multitudes of men: and I will have it so.” When Jesus bows his head to the stroke of the law, when he
          submissively consents that his Father shall turn away his face from him, then myriads of worlds are astonished at
          the perfect holiness and stern justice of the Lawgiver. There are, probably, worlds innumerable throughout the
          boundless creation of God, and all these will see, in the death of God’s dear Son, a declaration of his determination
          never to allow sin to be trifled with. If his own Son is brought before him, bearing the sin of others upon him, he
          will hide his face from him, as well as from the actually guilty. In God infinite love shines over all, but it does not
          eclipse his absolute justice any more than his justice is permitted to destroy his love. God hath all perfections in
          perfection, and in Christ Jesus we see the reflection of them. Beloved, this is a wonderful theme! Oh, that I had a
          tongue worthy of this subject! but who could ever reach the height of this great argument?
              Once more, when enquiring, Why did Jesus suffer to be forsaken of the Father? we see the fact that the
          Captain of our salvation was thus made perfect through suffering. Every part of the road has been traversed by
          our Lord’s own feet. Suppose, beloved, the Lord Jesus had never been thus forsaken, then one of his disciples
          might have been called to that sharp endurance, and the Lord Jesus could not have sympathized with him in it. He
          would turn to his Leader and Captain, and say to him, “Didst thou, my Lord, ever feel this darkness?” Then the
          Lord Jesus would answer, “No. This is a descent such as I never made.” What a dreadful lack would the tried one
          have felt! For the servant to bear a grief his Master never knew would be sad indeed.
              There would have been a wound for which there was no ointment, a pain for which there was no balm. But it
          is not so now. “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
          sin.” Wherein we greatly rejoice at this time, and so often as we are cast down. Underneath us is the deep
          experience of our forsaken Lord.
              I have done when I have said three things. The first is, you and I that are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ
          and are resting in him alone for salvation, let us lean hard, let us bear with all our weight on our Lord. He will
          bear the full weight of all our sin and care. As to my sin, I hear its harsh accusings no more when I hear Jesus cry,
          “Why hast thou forsaken me?” I know that I deserve the deepest hell at the hand of God’s vengeance; but I am
          not afraid. He will never forsake me, for he forsook his Son on my behalf. I shall not suffer for my sin, for Jesus
          has suffered to the full in my stead; yea, suffered so far as to cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
          me?” Behind this brazen wall of substitution a sinner is safe. These “munitions of rock” guard all believers, and
          they may rest secure. The rock is cleft for me; I hide in its rifts, and no harm can reach me. You have a full
          atonement, a great sacrifice, a glorious vindication of the law; wherefore rest at peace, all you that put your trust in
          Jesus.
              Next, if ever in our lives henceforth we should think that God hath deserted us, let us learn from our Lord’s
          example how to behave ourselves. If God hath left thee, do not shut up thy Bible; nay, open it, as thy Lord did,
          and find a text that will suit thee. If God hath left thee, or thou thinkest so, do not give up prayer; nay, pray as thy
          Lord did, and be more earnest than ever. It thou thinkest God has forsaken thee, do not give up thy faith in him;
          but, like thy Lord, cry thou, “My God, my God,” again and again. If thou hast had one anchor before, cast out
          two anchors now, and double the hold of thy faith. If thou canst not call Jehovah “Father,” as was Christ’s wont,
          yet call him thy “God.” Let the personal pronouns take their hold “My God, my God.” Let nothing drive thee
          from thy faith. Still hold on Jesus, sink or swim. As for me, if ever I am lost, it shall be at the foot of the cross. To
          this pass have I come, that if I never see the face of God with acceptance, yet I will believe that he will be faithful
          to his Son, and true to the covenant sealed by oaths and blood. He that believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life:
          there I cling, like the limpet to the rock. There is but one gate of heaven; and even if I may not enter it, I will cling
          to the posts of its door. What am I saying? I shall enter in; for that gate was never shut against a soul that accepted
          Jesus; and Jesus saith, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
              The last of the three points is this, let us abhor the sin which brought such agony upon our beloved Lord.
          What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an
          evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to
          God’s house, on the Lord’s-day morning, and think to worship him? Worship him! Worship him, with sin indulged
          in your breast! Worship him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! O sirs, if I had a dear brother who had
          been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? if I
          made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother’s
          heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin
          pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christ’s misery,
          that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again! Begone,
          0 sin! Thou art banished from the heart where Jesus reigns! Begone, for thou hast crucified my Lord, and made
          him cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” O my hearers, if you did but know yourselves, and know the love of
          Christ, you would each one vow that you would harbour sin no longer. You would be indignant at sin, and cry,

                                                “The dearest idol I have known,
                                                    Whate’er that idol be,
                                              Lord, I will tear it from its throne,
                                                  And worship only thee,”

          May that be the issue of my morning’s discourse, and then I shall be well content. The Lord bless you! May the
          Christ who suffered for you, bless you, and out of his darkness may your light arise! Amen.

                              PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON Psalm 22.

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