Ray Rooney, Jr.: Don’t Forget “Forsaken”
Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:19 PM

Several years ago Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ raised awareness of the brutality of Good Friday.  The scourging scenes earned the film an R rating.  Veteran movie goers who had been conditioned by decades of violence and gore in the movies nonetheless winced, shuddered, and sometimes looked away due to the realism that everyone knew was based on the truth.  No one had ever come close to reenacting the viciousness of the attacks on Christ like that film.  

Yet there was something missing.  An intangible the Gospels identified that couldn’t really be fleshed out and delved into for the big screen.  I’m talking about the absolute sense of abandonment that Jesus felt that day.  It began in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was being arrested.  Matthew writes a very simple statement: “Then all the disciples left him and fled” (26:56).  The trials begin.  Then the beatings, scourging, and crucifixion.  Throughout it all, the only one who seems to attempt to stand by Jesus is Pilate as he finds no guilt in Him and tries to release Him.  Sadly, the crowd chooses Barabbas over Jesus and even Pilate abandons Him as he symbolically washes his hands of the matter and “delivered him to be crucified” (27:26).  Finally, the abandonment of Christ reaches its apex as the crucified Son of God cries out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (27:46).

If anyone knew the Scriptures it was Jesus.  Most know that His question of forsakenness was a direct quote from the twenty-second Psalm.  Surely Jesus knew all the Psalms.  Surely He was familiar with Psalm 27:9 that says, “Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!” And then there is Psalm 37:25, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken…”  No movie can capture the crushing spiritual weight of sorrow and horror Jesus must have felt as He did far more than bear the sins of the world.  As Paul would say in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake, he [God the Father] made him [Jesus the Son] to be sin who knew no sin…”  Jesus became the living embodiment of sin thus fulfilling Moses’ serpent on the pole (Numbers 21:8-9).  And He was, in fact, abandoned by God which is exactly what the Scriptures mean when they say “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Some of us have experienced varying levels of abandonment in life.  Some have experienced abandonment by parents, children, spouses, and/or friends.  It hurts and here is why.  To be abandoned and forsaken means the lack of three things that we all desperately want and need.  The first is presence.  Abandonment means someone is no longer around.  And it is not because there was no choice.  It’s different from those we love who die.  They didn’t choose to leave us and we didn’t want them to.  Abandonment means a choice was made.  The pain of someone we love choosing to absent themselves from our lives is indescribable.  You feel like trash that has been put out at the curb.

The second thing that being abandoned and forsaken makes us lack is provision.  Some need was being provided for with that person in our lives.  And now we are without it.  Most of the time there is no viable substitute for that need at hand either.  We are simply going to have to learn to do without it.  That usually implies suffering. 

Third and lastly, when we are abandoned we lack protection.  We are exposed and that weakness makes us a target like the predators that pursue the lame or the young.  Our emotions are raw from being abandoned and we are unprotected from those who seek to take advantage of us.  There is strength in numbers and now we are alone.  Being forsaken and abandoned means we are on our own and cannot count on help.

So, in addition to the unimaginable physical brutality of Good Friday Jesus was forced to deal with the absolute horror of being without the Presence of His Father that He had known forever.  Never had there been a single moment in eternity when the Son of God had been without the abiding Presence of the Father and the Spirit.  Without the other members of the Godhead there would be no provision of any kind of assurance that everything or anything would work out.  No angels to minister.  No voice of affirmation and encouragement as there had been at the Jordan River and the Mount of Transfiguration.  And there would be no protection.  Not only from the people who wished to do Him harm but the agents of evil who lurked and waited for Him in darkness. 

He stood before three tribunals without an advocate.  He was beaten and scourged mercilessly without provision for His pain.  No voice from Heaven descended upon Calvary and no Dove lighted on the Cross of suffering and shame.  No angels came to His rescue as the nails were driven into His hands and feet.  Jesus was truly alone.  Without a Friend anywhere in the entire universe. 

This is what it means to perish.  And this is why He did it:

For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only Son that

whoever believes in Him should

not perish but have eternal life.


Ray Rooney, Jr.