MATTHEW 27:45-46: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” NKJV
OBSERVATION: As I reflect upon this Scripture, we are on day 5 of a 14 day sequester that our nation is observing during the current Corona-virus crisis. For the first time in my lifetime, most businesses have come to a screeching halt, and even churches will stop gathering for worship over the next few weeks. We are encouraged to practice social distancing, stay in our homes, and limit our contact to only the most vital of human services and needs.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the air as we walk together through this time as a nation, a world, and the Body of Christ. Our basic nature is to have fellowship with one another. We hunger for closeness and meaning through our relationships. How are we to manage in these unchartered times?
As I read the 27th chapter of Matthew, and as I listened to Jesus’ words on the cross, I was moved to reflect on the ultimate social distancing. It was the moment when Jesus, bearing the full weight of our sin, guilt, and shame, was separated from the Father. In that moment in time, Jesus suffered the ultimate social distancing so that we would never have to. He willingly allowed His eternal fellowship with the Father to be broken so that we would never have to suffer the agony of eternal distancing from God!
- “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
As I review Facebook posts, most people are trying to address our current situation with humor. This is a necessary cathartic. However, there is a greater social distancing that cannot be appeased by humor. It is eternal separation from God. We were all racing toward this destination until Jesus took it upon Himself. Now, by receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, by grace through faith, we have the blessed assurance of eternal life and we will never be separated from God!
- “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:3-5 NKJV
Take a moment to think about this. At the moment we do not have a choice with regard to the social distancing we are experiencing. I have a season pass to Disneyworld. Yet, I cannot go. It is closed. If I go to my favorite restaurant, it too is closed, except for the drive-thru. I cannot go to the movies, swim at our community pool, or shop at my favorite store. I am socially distanced without a choice.
Yet, no one has to be socially distanced from the Creator of all things! There is a heaven and there is a hell. Heaven will be the place of eternal communion and fellowship with God and with all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Hell will be place of eternal social distancing from God. It will be a place of sorrow and agony. God does not send anyone to hell. Hell is earned by a lifetime of an unrepentant heart, an unbelieving heart, a heart that refuses to follow Jesus Christ. The wages of this sin is eternal distancing from God!
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NKJV
Yet there is a wonderful promise. BUT – “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” None of this would be possible if Jesus had not suffered eternal distancing for each one of us. When He cried out His last words He proclaimed – “IT IS FINISHED!” This was not a cry of defeat and suffering. This was a shout of victory and triumph. How can we be assured of this. Take a look at what happened after He took His last breath.
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:45-46, 50-54 NKJV
- “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:45-46, 50-54 NKJV
The veil of the Temple was torn in two. This signified that access to God was made available through faith to everyone who would believe! Death was conquered by life. Three days later Jesus would walk out of the tomb. And, at the very moment He proclaimed, “It is finished,” many of the saints rose from the dead in the graveyards as a testimony to the power of His life. Even those who crucified Him saw all these things and proclaimed – “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Lord, as we work through this temporary separation from friends and loved ones, may we remember the eternal separation You experienced for us on the cross. Today, we are never separated from you. And, we have the blessed assurance that we will be reunited in heaven with our family, friends, and loved ones who believed. There is no eternal social distancing for the child of God!
In these difficult times we pray that You would draw all those who do not know You to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that they can enjoy eternal fellowship with You!
In Jesus Name!