Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:45-46).

Have you ever wondered why God could forsake Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God? If you have ever had the opportunity to read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, one is struck by the majesty of the purest person to ever walk this planet. Even those that lived with Jesus, His disciples for three years, tell us that they had never seen this man commit any sin (1 Peter 2:22). Is it possible that there was a person who walked this earth and was sinless? The Bible records that there is not a man that has not sinned:

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

How could Jesus be different from you and I and not sin? This was the very reason that He was born of a virgin. The Holy Spirit had come on His mother Mary, and she conceived in a different way to the rest of the Homo Sapiens race. Jesus was 100% God, but also 100% man. Adam, the one who first sinned, had passed on to all of us this default in our nature to be disobedient to our Creator, what the Bible calls sin. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were told,

16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die(Genesis 2:16-17).

This death that they were warned about was spiritual death, which is separation from God, and, of course, physical death too. After they ate the fruit Adam and Eve did not fall down dead, but something happened within their inner nature that made them hide from God when He came to enjoy their company (Genesis 3:8-10). Sin causes a barrier between God and us:

2But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

God has gone to extraordinary lengths to take this barrier of sin that separates Him from us. He came to this planet in the person of His Son being born of Mary in order to take upon Himself the payment of sin that we owed because of our sin. In His justice, God cannot weigh some in the scales and say one has done more good than another. The problem is deeper than that. All of us have sinned. There is not a person on Earth who is good enough to live with a Holy God. The wage that we receive for our life of sin is to be separated from God for eternity, what the Bible calls death. But God in His love for us chose to come to earth and pay our penalty of sin Himself:

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 2:19).

When Christ hung on the cross, He was loaded down with your sin and mine, the just for the unjust to bring us to God, that was why He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He took your debt of sin, the very thing that separates you from God, upon Himself. The just punishment of your sin was paid for at the cross. That was why He could shout a victory shout right at death, “It is finished!” The Greek words that are translated into English as “It is finished” literally mean, “Paid in full.” This is the Good News! Your sin and mine has been paid for! To become a Christian is to receive the full pardon for your sin that was paid for by Christ. Will you give your life over to Him and believe the good news of your deliverance from the penalty of sin, and ask Him to come into your life? There’s no better day than today.

Keith Thomas

Have You Surrendered?

31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Many people are fighting a war of resistance against the kingdom of God. They are attracted to the Lord Jesus and His call on their lives, but there is something within them that wants to keep distance between them and God. Many are afraid of the changes that becoming a Christian will cause. Yes, there will be changes in your life when you surrender to the King of Kings. But what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It is time to sit down and think through your options. There is only one option. The option of surrender! How long are you going to keep fighting against King Jesus? What are the terms of surrender that He asks? An unconditional surrender is what is needed! You must give up everything you have to Him to be all that you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender completely all that you are and all that you have can He begin to work in your life to transform you into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was told by his commander to fight a guerilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines. His name was Hiroo Onoda and his commander’s strict orders was that he was forbidden to die by his own hand and they were to continue the fight until Japanese forces were to come back for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villager’s cows for meat. It was at one such time that they found a note left by a local resident, appealing them to come and surrender for the war had come to an end two years ago. The soldiers took it to be a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth that the world was at peace with mistrust and unbelief. They carried on killing and wounding the islanders whom they saw as the enemy. In September of 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers, without a word to the others, sneaked off during the night and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old. For nineteen years Onoda and the remaining other soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They believed that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island. Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October of 1972, 51-year-old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties but he evaded them all. In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and that he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. He formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for the crimes he had committed under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero’s welcome. His memoirs were entitled, “No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.”

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a misplaced cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he would have listened. If only his countrymen from Japan would have gone earlier to find him, so many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been endured in your family because you have been unwilling to surrender to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace.

 Keith Thomas

He Shouted All the More

35As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41″What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God (Luke 18:35-43).

This blind man must have heard testimony about Jesus at some time because, when he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, his response was to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 38). Even though he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, he did not call Him by that name. He cried out to Jesus as the Son of David, a title for the Messiah (Messiah is the Hebrew word for Christ; it means God’s Anointed One). He began to cry out for mercy:

39Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:39).

The blind man could not be kept quiet by those around Christ! There will always be those who do not want us to get excited about Jesus and His Word, they would seek to quieten us down from calling upon Him. Some on the outskirts of the crowd could not hear the master teach over the beggar’s shouting. They rebuked him and told him to be quiet, possibly because they thought he wanted money from Jesus. Decide now not to listen to those voices. This blind man could not be quieted down. A different Greek word is used the second time. In verse 39 it is translated: “he shouted all the more” (v. 39). The Greek word translated as “shouted all the more,” is krazō, which means to scream or shriek.[1] In his desperation he began to loudly scream out to the Lord. The tense of the Greek also brings out the fact that he kept on shouting and screaming. He would not shut up.

The picture we get is of a man going crazy with emotion. There is desperation behind the blind man’s voice. It is very likely that he had heard of Christ and His power beforehand but had never got the opportunity to call upon Him. In hearing testimony from others about Christ, he had concluded that this was the prophesied Messiah, the Son of David. He had decided that he would not miss any opportunity if Messiah showed up. The Spirit had already been working in his heart to produce faith for when the opportunity came. If there was ever a picture of one who sought for Christ with all his heart this was it. The blind man had this one opportunity and he was not going to let Jesus go by without doing all in his power to get his need met. He began to call out to the Lord with his whole heart and voice, just as the Spirit has told us in the Book of Psalms: “and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). This calling out to the Lord when in trouble is not something that we should allow to lightly pass us by, because there is great spiritual truth set out plainly before us. This is not just regular prayer, but a deep crying out in distress and anguish of soul. 16As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. 17Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice (Psalm 55:16-17).

Leonard Ravenhill, the Bible teacher, has said that God doesn’t answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer! I’m not sure I completely agree with that statement, but there is a truth that is worth extracting from the quote. Desperate prayer touches the compassionate heart of God. Again, and again, we read of encouragement to cry out to God just as the blind beggar did. For instance, in all the troubles that King David went through at the hands of King Saul, the Lord taught him to call and cry out to Him: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6). We see example after example in the Gospels of desperate people getting their need met by Jesus. How about you? Jesus is passing by—are you going to remain quiet, or are you willing to call out to Him with all your heart and soul. Keith Thomas

[1] e.Sword.com

“Don’t be Afraid, Just Trust Me”

But Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me” (Mark 5:36).

There are times in one’s life when we must simply trust our Father. This can be difficult when we are going through a trying situation. Sometimes it means ignoring everything but His words in the midst of a storm.

I remember a time when I was working as a commercial fisherman with my father on his fishing boat. We were on a long journey south to our home port of Harwich, Essex, England. It was past midnight and it was his turn to sleep. Before he lay down on the day bed, there in the wheelhouse alongside of me, he wanted to give me some instructions for our passing three miles off of the coast of Lowestoft, Suffolk.  He instructed me to avoid the two sandbanks that ran three miles off the shore and parallel with the coast. He wanted me to go close to the shore, away from the sandbanks, and escape the tide that would be turning against us when we got there.

Two miles ahead of us, I could see two other fishing boats from our home port. Dad had been asleep about an hour when I came up to the Scroby Sands, the Outer and Inner banks, that ran parallel and opposite the coast of Lowestoft. I reasoned to myself that, instead of following my father’s commands, I could just follow the lights of the other boats. To make matters worse, we were in a force 9 severe gale with the waves breaking over the bow of the boat. I was afraid that if I took the advice of my father, staying close to the shore, I would not see Lowestoft Pier that stuck out a few hundred yards.  As I entered the channel, I saw the red buoy to my left, and the green buoy on my right, so I knew I was at the start of the channel. What I didn’t realize, though, was that after the other boats had gone through the channel in between the sands, they had now turned course and were heading inshore so that they, too, could evade the fast flowing tide against all of us.

Following the other boats and not listening to my dad was a big mistake! My course had changed from going down the channel to following them inshore. But I hadn’t come to the end of the channel yet. Our boat hit the Inner Scroby Sands going full speed.  My dad woke with a start as the keel stuck fast on the Inner Scroby Sand in a severe gale.  Worst of all, the tide was going down and every minute diminished our chances of survival.  My father told me to put the engine in reverse and give maximum thrust on the engine.  When I did so, the boat leaned severely over on the port (left) side and we nearly capsized. In fear I took the engine out of gear. Scared of death, I asked dad to take the controls. My dad took over the helm. “We’ve got to do it, son!” he said. Our very lives were at stake. If we’d have capsized, we would never have been found and both of us could not swim and we had no life raft at the time. In any case, it was three miles to Lowestoft in mid-winter, in the dark.  With the tide going down the boat would not remain vertical as the water level dropped–we would capsize.  We faced certain death. Dad put the boat in reverse gear and rammed the throttle on the engine full speed. The boat again nearly capsized and shook violently as the rear of the keel hit the sand as the propeller thrashed the water while I prayed like mad, crying, “help Lord!” In two minutes of dad taking the helm our boat came off the sands.

When we were safely on our way again, the Lord spoke to me very clearly, saying, “If you would just listen to your Father’s voice, you would be safe.” God often has a way of speaking on two different levels to us. I knew He was referring to my relationship with Him and that I was to trust His voice even when it seemed like an illogical thing to do. Father knows best! Thank God that when we feel incapable, He is there to take the controls! Can you give Him the controls of your life? Or are you still following the other boats?

Can I challenge you to trust your Father’s voice? When the situation looks bleak, hear His voice, saying, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me” (Mark 5:36).

Please, Father, help me to know your voice and obey it.

Keith Thomas

The Great Banquet Invitation

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’ ” (Luke 14:15-24).

How lovely to us is the thought that eternity with Christ is pictured as a great banquet where all are invited. You are not left out! All are invited to the feast in the Kingdom of God. No matter what you have done, or where you have been, God offers a free pardon to you on account of the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross for you and as you. Of all the fun things that we get to do in this world, is there anything better than eating with friends, conversing, laughing and enjoying one another’s company? It certainly is my favorite thing to do, and no doubt yours too. In another place in the scriptures, Christ is pictured as standing at the door of your house, the house of your inner being, asking to come in and enjoy eating with you, suggesting deep intimacy with Him:

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).

The above passages suggest eternal bliss and satisfaction. Parties and banquets are all about fun, laughter and joy. To be around Jesus, to gaze upon His loveliness and laugh with him, seeing His glory and grace, and enjoying heaven with others that also love Him, what joy that will be! How humbling to realize that the God of the Universe wants to enjoy our presence over a meal that He has prepared. Jesus had been teaching concerning humility and reaching out to the poor and disabled by inviting them to a banquet. A man responds to Him by saying, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Verse 15).

It seems that the words come from one of the Pharisees reclining at the table where Jesus had been invited and was eating. It is difficult to judge the man’s motivation for saying such a thing. Was it a request to find out what makes a person worthy of being invited to share in the Kingdom of God? It’s even possible that he was saying, “I can’t wait for us to recline at God’s table together.” The Pharisees considered themselves as righteous; after all, they were meticulous about keeping God’s commandments. They could not conceive that there would be Gentiles or even Jews that did not keep the law at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). Jesus shared a parable with them that shook their thinking on just who would be in attendance at the feast in the Kingdom of God. He said that God invites the poor, the lame, the blind and the crippled into His kingdom, but those who made excuses would be shut out. Christ makes it clear that there is a free invitation to this banquet. Nothing can be done to deserve a seat at all.

There were no fixed price tickets to the best seats. It was by free invitation only. If you are a Christian, you have come to Christ at His invitation. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44). If you are not yet a Christian, today you have heard of the invite! You have been called and invited. The very fact that you are reading this study is proof that the Spirit of God has been drawing you to Christ. Some people are upset by the fact that the entrance to God’s Kingdom is by a free invitation only. They find it hard to receive grace or undeserved favor. Part of the reason is pride. They feel that they must accomplish something in order to earn their entrance fee, but no one gets into eternity by what they have done. It is only by God’s grace and mercy. Now that is something to receive and party about! Trust Him today, and if I don’t see you this side of heaven, I will see you inside the Eastern Gate when He comes (Ezekiel 44:1-3). Keith Thomas