On Faith: No longer alone
Have you ever felt truly alone or forsaken? Maybe your answer is, "Yes, I do all the time," or "Yes, I do right now." If so, you are actually in good company. In fact, all of us can feel alone at times. Jesus' disciples experienced it. Even more amazingly, Jesus himself felt alone as well. It all happened on that terrible, wonderful day that Jesus died.
The disciples had given up much to follow Jesus. They had left businesses and family behind to follow this amazing man who taught them as no one had before about God and performed miracles before their very eyes. They were, as the Scripture says: "... eyewitnesses to his majesty." And yet, the tide of public opinion turned quickly against Jesus, and he was arrested, tried and sentenced to die.
As the Roman soldiers pounded the spikes into Jesus' wrists and feet, hope seemed lost. A few hours later, as Jesus breathed his last breath, an oppressive sense of emptiness and aloneness overshadowed the disciples. Jesus, their rabbi and the one they thought was the promised Messiah, was gone. Hopelessness set in.
But more than that, Jesus went through similar feelings that same day. One of his disciples, a former outcast named Matthew, records Jesus' words as he hung on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, God turned away from his one and only son. Why? Why did the heavenly Father forsake Jesus in the moment of his greatest need?
II Corinthians 5:21 gives us the answer. Not only did Jesus carry our sins as he hung on the cross, it actually says: "God made him who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God," (emphasis mine).
Jesus, the only sinless human being ever to live, became the physical representation of our sin. The heavenly Father couldn't look upon his Son because God is perfectly holy and cannot look upon sin. Jesus was forsaken because of your sin and mine. God poured out all his wrath on Jesus as he died for us so that He wouldn't have to judge us because if our sin. Jesus made the way back into relationship with a perfectly holy God possible. He offers that relationship as a gift to us, free for the taking.
Jesus experienced a depth of loneliness we can only imagine. He had always had perfect communion with the heavenly Father, from eternity past, all the way to the cross. At that moment, the relationship was cut off, and Jesus quoted David who wrote Psalm 22:1 with that well-known question: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He was forsaken so that we don't have to be. God is calling to you right now. He wants you to accept the free gift that cost Jesus his life.
You don't have to feel alone. God wants to walk with you each day. So the question that remains is: will you take God up on his offer? You cannot earn God's love; he already loves you. And he wants a real relationship with you. Jesus said he came that we "might have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
Full life is finding forgiveness through Christ's shed blood, and then living each day in response to what he's done for you. It doesn't matter what you've done because his grace is bigger than any sin we can commit. God offers his forgiveness, so take him up on his offer. You'll never be alone again!
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. Scott Nelson has been the pastor at First Baptist since 1993.