SIN SORROW & SILENCE
"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Mark 15:34
With sorrowful silence and fearfulness of utterance we approach the deepest darkness. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:34) These words reveal a mystery, and represent in mystery a revelation. To them we turn for a theory of the Atonement, only to discover that theorizing is impossible. Alone in the supreme hour in the history of the race, Christ uttered these words, and in them light breaks out, and yet merges, not into darkness, but into light so blinding that no eye can bear to gaze. The words are recorded, not to finally reveal, but to reveal so much as it is possible for men to know, and to set a limit at the point where men may never know. The words were uttered that men may know, and that men may know how much there is that may not be known. In that strange for cry that broke from the lips of the Master there are at least three things perfectly clear. Let them ne named and considered.
- It is the cry of One Who has reached the final issue of SIN.
- It is the cry of One Who has fathomed the deepest depth of SORROW.
- It is the cry of One Himself overwhelmed in the mystery of SILENCE.
SIN, SORROW, SILENCE. Sin at its final issue, sorrow at its deepest depth, silence the unexplainable mystery of agony, and agony of mystery. These are the facts suggested by the actual words. In that order let them be pondered reverently.
"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" The logical, irresistible, irrevocable issue of sin is to be GOD-FORSAKEN. Sin in its genesis was rebellion against God. Sin in its harvest is to be God-abandoned. Man sinned when he dethroned God and enthroned himself. And that began with Adam. He reaps the utter harvest of his sin when he has lost God altogether. That is the issue of all sin. It is the final penalty of sin, penalty not in the sense of a blow inflicted on the sinner by God, but in the sense of a result following upon sin, from which God Himself cannot save the sinner. Sin is alienation from God by choice. Hell is the utter realization of that chosen alienation. Sin therefore at last is the consciousness of the lack of God, and that God-forsaken condition is the penalty of the sin which forsakes God. Now listen solemnly, and from that Cross hear the cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” That is hell. No other human being has ever been God-forsaken in this life. Man by his own act alienated himself from God, but God never left him. He brooded over him with infinite patience and pity, and took man back to His heart at the moment of the fall, in virtue of that mystery of Calvary which lay within the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, long before its outworking in the history of the race. What explanation can there be of this cry from the lips of Jesus? None other is needed than that declared by His herald three years before, and considered in previous articles. "Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) He has taken hold upon sin. He has made it His own. He has accepted the responsibility of it. He has passed to the ultimate issue. There is a statement in the writings of Paul, to my own mind the most overwhelming, the most profound of the New Testament: "Him Who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21) We end up as He said was true of His Father. (Matt. 5:48) Reverently hear the strange and inspiring words, "Him Who knew no sin He made sin." A man says, I do not understand that. Neither do I. But there is a declaration, and in the hour of the Cross is the fact. On that Cross He was made sin, and therein He passed to the uttermost limit of sin's outworking. He was God-forsaken. He knew no sin. He was made sin. He was forsaken of God. Because He knew no sin there is a value in the penalty which He bore, that He does not need for Himself. Whose sin is this that He is made, and for which He is forsaken of God? My sin. I can say no other in the presence of that awe-inspiring miracle. Each must for himself stand there alone,—my sin. He was made my sin. If in passing to the final issue of my sin, and bearing its penalty, He created a value that He did not need for Himself, for whom is the value? It also is for me. “He bore my sin in His body upon the tree." (1 Peter 2:24)
And yet the broader fact must be stated. He bore the sin of the world. Himself knowing no sin, by such bearing He created a value which He did not require. For whom then is the value of that awful hour? For the whole world, whose sin He bore. Behold Him, on the Cross, bending His sacred head, and gathering into His heart in the awful isolation of separation from God, the issue of the sin of the world, and see how out of that acceptance of the issue of sin He creates that which He does not require for Himself, that He may distribute to those whose place He has taken.
Finally turn for one brief moment only to the next fact, closely allied to that already considered, never be separating in the final thought, and only now taking separately for the sake of examination and contemplation. This cry is not merely that of One Who has reached the final issue of sin, but it is therefore, and also, the cry of One Who has fathomed the deepest abyss of sorrow. Sorrow is the consciousness of lack.
What is the sorrow a sickness but the consciousness of lack of health?
What is the sorrow of bereavement but the consciousness of the lack of the loved one?
What is the sorrow of poverty but the consciousness of the lack of the necessities of life?
What is the sorrow of loneliness but the consciousness of the lack of companionship?
All sorrow is lack. Then it follows by a natural sequence of that, that the uttermost depth of sorrow is lack of God. There is no sorrow like it. There is no pain comparable to it. The human heart through the infinite mercy of God has never in this life really known this uttermost reach of sorrow. There are moments in life when it would seem as though God had hidden. His face as men pass through dark experiences, but if He had actually withdrawn Himself, the sorrow of the hiding of His face would have been as nothing, to the sorrow of the actual absence from Him. In this hour when Jesus was made sin, and was therefore Godforsaken, He knew as none had ever known the profundities of pain. The vision that had been His light through all the dark days in the thirty-three years was lost. The strength of that fellowship with the Father which had been His on every rough and rugged pathway was withdrawn. In perfect harmony with the purpose of God He passed into the place of separation from God, and in the awful cry which expresses His loneliness, there is revealed the most stupendous sorrow that has ever been witnessed through the ages.