The moment of Jesus’ greatest despair on the cross is when he realized that he was separated from the Father. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46) Jesus anticipated this moment when he prayed earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” (Matthew 26:38). To be separated from the Father felt like death.
Jesus, Holy Spirit and God the Father had a close relationship since the beginning of time. Even when Jesus came to earth, he spent quiet moments with the Father. Jesus only did what the Father directed. (John 5:19) Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) The crucifixion separated Jesus from the Father for the first time ever.
Sin is the reason we are separated from God. Even though Jesus knew no sin, he experienced the results of sin. As Jesus was dying for the sins of the world, he felt the unbearable and painful emotional separation from the Father. The process of a crucifixion is a slow death which usually takes six hours to a few days, but Jesus died in three hours. The torture of the crucifixion did not kill Jesus. Why did Jesus die so early? Could the pain of the separation from the Father have ended his life? We do not know exactly how he died but we do know that Jesus died in the midst of his separation from the Father.
Even today, Jesus still bears the scars of the cross. The memory of that separation with the Father will remain embedded in Jesus for the eternity. Like many other parents, I’ve had that panic moment when my young son wandered away in a store and I could not initially find him. The mind races wildly while you yell out your child’s name. Finally, after an agonizing minute which seemed like eternity, I was reunited with my son. I still remember the agony of that minute. Jesus experienced his separation from the Father for at least three hours, maybe three days, and he still carries the memory of this separation. Jesus has perfect memory and can recall every emotion of the separation.
When sin entered the world, it also affected our relationship with others. Jesus died to make us one with others. “For Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, …and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2: 14, 16) Jesus’ body was broken, so that the body of Christ could be one.
A day before the crucifixion, Jesus took bread and broke it and said, “this is my body given for you.” (Luke 22:19) Jesus breaking the bread was a prophetic act of his body being broken for us. He was broken so that He could restore broken relationships.
Recently, I am witnessing the Anaheim Free Methodist church being subject to a takeover by another church. I have been helping and praying to overturn this action. Many in the church feel hurt, confused and lost. As I pray for my brothers and sisters, I am drawn to Jesus’ cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” At the cross, Jesus understands the pain of separated and broken relationships. Jesus died to make us one.
Thank you Jesus for going to the cross. You encountered our feelings of lostness, loneliness, and confusion. You have felt the depths of brokenness. You suffered deeply the pain of separation and loss. You paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be one with God and one with others. Amen
P.S. I was inspired to write this article because I heard a incredible message by Dan Zambrano on this subject last Sunday and seeing the brokenness at Anaheim Free Methodist church.