Geoff Snook – Where is God on Good Friday?

Geoff Snook – Where is God on Good Friday?

Where is God on Good Friday?

Where is God on Good Friday? On the darkest day of Jesus’ life, on the day that we look back on as the turning point in all of human history, where was God?

Matthew 27:45-47

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachtani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.

What is going on at this point in the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son? Where is God? Why is Jesus asking why he’s been abandoned?

And where is God on our darkest day? Where is God when we’re in trouble?

Where was God at 3pm on Good Friday? Where is God at 10am today?

 

 

WHY WAS THERE DARKNESS OVER THE LAND?

It was because of sin. As Jesus carried the sin of every person in the world, as the Creator suffered, creation itself heaved and groaned.

Why is there darkness over your life?

It’s because of sin. There is sin in the world still. Paid for, owing no debt, but still sin causing death, pain, regret, darkness in your life.

 

WHAT DO JESUS’ WORDS MEAN?

Why doesn’t Jesus call God Father, like he has already on the cross when he said, “Father forgive them” or like he will say in a moment, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”? Instead he said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’

In those words, Jesus is directly quoting the beginning of Psalm 22. Which was a common thing to do in those days. If a teacher wanted to reference a story, he could just say the opening line. Or if a rabbi wanted to quote a whole passage he would often just reference the well known first few words.

  • It would be like me saying: “In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.” Do you know what book that is from? And all of the food it ate and then the beautiful butterfly it turned into comes to mind.
  • It would be like me saying, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” And the whole rest of the book or the movie comes to mind.
  • It would be like me saying, “We are the champions, my friends.” And the rest of the song by Queen comes to mind.

It’s like visiting someone who has just lost a family member, a home of grief. And in an appropriate time of quiet reflection in the middle of the conversation you say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Which to everyone who knows the rest of the Psalm is a sentence so full of meaning!

In that same way Jesus doesn’t need to quote the whole Psalm. But he’s indicating the fulfilment of a prophecy.

Psalm 22:1-2

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.”

Psalm 22 continues and describes some of what David the Psalmist was experiencing when he wrote it hundreds of years before.

Psalm 22:16-18

“My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.”

Psalm 22 had meaning in it’s time, and it had an added meaning at 3pm on Good Friday as Jesus fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy.

Jesus portrays his heart in that moment of desperation on the cross. He knows he is the Son of God. He knows his purpose is to die in that way on that day. He knows he is in that moment carrying the sins of the world. He knows that God, in his heavenly perfection, has no sin. So in that moment there is a reality of separation, but even more so a crushing experience as Jesus carries sin and feels separation from God.

Some of you feel like that. You’re not carrying the sins of the world. You’re not nailed to a cross. But you can agree with and pray Psalm 22. “Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.”

God wants to speak to you. He wants to speak into your situation.

 

Some of you might be familiar with the great hymn, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” There’s a line in the song, speaking of Jesus on the cross, that says: “How great the pain of searing loss. The Father turns his face away.”

There was an element of distance between God the Father and Jesus the Son at 3pm on Good Friday, because of sin. And there was the crushing experience of distance and abandonment, because of sin.

But God inspired the apostle Paul to write these words a few years later:

2 Corinthians 5:19

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.

The cross was God’s plan all along. The Godhead, the trinity, of Father, Son and Spirit, had this plan to save humanity from sin. The cross was their plan all along. In Jesus’ life, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. In Jesus’ resurrection, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. But even on the cross, even as Jesus died, even as Jesus cried our ‘Why have you abandoned me?’ God the Father was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. 

And if you have accepted Jesus, who he is and what he’s done, God is in your life, reconciling you to himself. God is in your darkest hour, fulfilling his promise to reconcile you to himself through what Jesus has done. Even though you might feel like God has turned his back on you, he is still with you. He is in you by his Spirit.

Later on in Psalm 22, the prophetic psalm, David wrote this:

Psalm 22:24

For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.

NIV:

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

 

The cry of Jesus is the cry of every one of us when we experience sin. When it feels like God is so far away, with his back sadly or stubbornly turned away from us.

BUT.

2 Corinthians 5:19b

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. 

And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

On your best day and your worst day, God is reconciling you to himself through Jesus, and he has given you the message of reconciliation.

In Paul’s previous letter to the Corinthians he writes about communion and says:

1 Corinthians 11:26 NLT

For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

Every time you eat the bread and drink the cup of communion you announce the Lord’s death until he comes. You announce that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. You announce that because of that God is no long counting your sin against you. You announce that you are forgiven. You announce and demonstrate that wonderful message of reconciliation.

Where WAS God on Good Friday? In Christ, together with Christ, working to reconcile the world to himself.

Where IS God on Good Friday? In us, together with us, announcing his message of reconciliation to the whole world.

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