Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 … God’s Sovereign Departure

Passage of the Day: Matthew 27: 46 … About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"— which means, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" [Ps. 22:1]

My Journal for Today: This is a hard saying from Jesus on the cross. My studies reveal that Martin Luther worked diligently for years but had trouble grasping what Jesus said in today’s passage, … our Lord feeling so abandoned on the cross. And so, who am I to be trying to explain this? … Well, the answer lies in the fact that I have the same Holy Spirit to help me lay hold of God’s word just as did Martin Luther. I also have the advantage of centuries of brilliant theologians like Luther and other, more current Bible scholars, …men like John MacArthur in my devotional book, to help me. But the main issue still resides in my willingness to humbly seek after God’s, i.e., the Holy Spirit’s, ministry of enlightenment. So, if I pray for God’s mind and wisdom, He is willing to provide it to me (see James 1: 5, 6). So here goes [but you check me out in the Spirit of 1st John 4: 1 or 1st Thes. 5: 17].

We do know that God cannot abide sin (see Habakkuk 1: 13); and it is truth that Jesus became the sin of all mankind on that cross. And so, a Father-God, Who is perfectly Holy, could not be – in that moment where Jesus hung on the cross having taken on the sins of all mankind – in the presence of sin. Therefore, God, the Father, had to turn His back on His own Son. The horror of that for God, the Son, is unimaginable for me; and it’s heart wrenching to read our Lord lamenting what He had dreaded so heavily earlier during His passion, e.g., when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before being arrested.

But this should tell us how much sin is a curse [see also Gal. 3: 13] as we come into the presence of God; and for Christ becoming the propitiation for our sin on the cross had to be anathema in the presence of His Holy Father. That’s the way it is when we let sin come between God and our own souls (see 1st John 1: 10). God doesn’t hate us (personally) when we sin. To the contrary, He loves us – perfectly! But, He hates our sin; and the only way for us to maintain the intimacy of fellowship with our Lord is for us to be cleansed by the very blood which Christ was shedding on that cross as He spoke the lament we read in today’s verse [again, see that wondrous promise of 1st John 1: 9, which you should have memorized cold by now!].

Gratefully, as in that verse, God has provided a way for this cleansing to take place through confession; and, in that regard, this verse becomes one of the most hopeful passages in all of the New Testament for me (and probably for you, too). And then by repenting – truly repenting – and walking to follow Christ (see Luke 9: 23, which you should also have in memory), we can maintain the closeness that Christ lost by shouldering our sin … the intimacy the God-Man regained when He ascended and was re-glorified by His Father.

My Prayer Today: Lord, hold me close to You! Amen

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