Matthew 27:46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
How many times have we asked ourselves the same question that Jesus asked as he hung dying on the cross? “God, why have you abandoned your son? God why don’t you do something?”
Surely if we had of been standing by watching as this man of peace, as the Son of God was humiliated in a sham of a trial, as he was scourged and beaten in front of a jeering crowd, as slowly the soldiers of Caesar stripped away the last remaining pieces of his human dignity. Surely we would have asked ourselves and those who stood nearby, “Why doesn’t God do something? How can God allow this to happen?”
And as they took this battered and bleeding Nazarene Carpenter and laid him against the roughly hewn cross, drove home those great dull spikes through his hands and feet and then stood the cross upright with the son of God suspended on it like a broken discarded marionette and dropped it into the hole prepared, jarring all of his body weight down unto those bleeding wounds in his hands. And there he was left, hanging between heaven and earth.
Surely as we watched this travesty of justice, surely the rage welling up inside would compel us to demand of the Almighty, “God why don’t you do something, don’t just let him die like some common criminal.”
Surely that question must have been on the lips of John, Mary, Martha and others who loved Jesus as they stood and watched, repulsed by what was happening but unable to turn away and unable to comprehend the injustice of what they were witnessing.
If you have ever watched the Passion of the Christ, then I’m sure you are familiar with the feelings of helplessness and frustration that seemed to overwhelm me when I first watched the movie. How could God have allowed that to happen.
And so his friends watched, totally helpless, unable to do anything for the one who had done so much for them.
We don’t ask in unbelief, instead it is as believers that we find our voice and demand “How? How could You allow your Son to die in such a horrible way?” It is only because we have so much faith in the power and justice of God that we find it so remarkable and difficult to believe that he chose to not to exercise that power.
The first thing we need to note is that God Could Have Done Something. Christ acknowledged that when they came to arrest him in the garden. The group that the High Priest sent to arrest Jesus was more like a lynch mob then a posse. You can just imagine the group standing in the flickering, smoky light of the oil torches. Unveiled hostility showing on their faces as they reach to seize the one who had displeased their masters.
And when the crowd attempted to grab Christ, Peter the brave, Peter the impulsive, Peter the insane drew a single sword and took a swipe and cut off the ear of one of the High Priest’s servants. Now all I can say is that it was lucky for the servant that Peter was a fisherman and not a swordsman, because I don’t think for a minute that Peter wanted to separate the guys ear from his head as much as he wanted to separate his head from his shoulders. You can almost hear Peter now, “I’ll hold them off boss you make a run for it.”
But Pete had misread the situation. He thought that Christ was helpless when that was far from the truth. Jesus set the record straight in Matthew 26:53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?
In the New King James Version it gets a little more specific. Matthew 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
Now what Jesus was saying was “Peter if I wanted I could have a legion of angels, and you could have a legion of angels and John could have a legion of angels and Thaddeus could have a legion of angels and the other eight guys could have a legion of angels each to command.
And we’re not talking those cute little sissy angels people seem to be worshiping today. No we are talking big mean angels, angels with attitude, angels who could level the entire city of Jerusalem with no problem at all.
When we think of a legion we think of a place where old soldiers go to play darts, but this was a different type of legion. The legion that is spoken of here was the largest single unit in the Roman army and was comprised of six thousand men. Now I would suspect that seventy two thousand angels with a hate on could have done a pile of damage, even Christ conceded that.
On Calvary when you heard them taunting Jesus wouldn’t you have prayed with all your might, “Yes God, bring him down, teach them a lesson God, please God, don’t let him die like this. Send the angels and mop the floor with this bunch.”
Now I know that some would object and say “Preacher God doesn’t work that way!” Oh yes he can and you can’t deny it. God works exactly that way and the history of the Bible confirms it. Time after time God has directly intervened in the affairs of mortals, what else do you call the parting of the Red Sea and the collapse of the walls of Jericho?
God not only made the Sun but he made it stand still for Joshua. Who do you think closed the lion’s mouth for Daniel in the lions den, or made the fiery furnace bearable for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Who sent the fish to swallow Jonah and the star to guide the Magi?
The truth of the matter is that God does answer prayer and often does it in miraculous ways. If he didn’t then why bother to pray at all? If God didn’t care and if God didn’t act then why waste our breath asking him?
You see, the truth of the matter is that God could do something because He had done it before throughout the course of history.
Could God have stepped in and averted this tragedy, in a way that was consistent with His saving grace throughout scripture? Jesus must have believed he could or why would he have cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “Dad, why aren’t you doing something.”
And so it is because we believe that we aren’t afraid to ask, “God why don’t you do something?”
Second when we stand before the cross and ask why doesn’t God do something? The answer comes back, God Was Doing Something.
We have to remember that the crucifixion didn’t happen in a vacuum. Instead it took place in a very specific moral and spiritual setting. We have to realize that the cross was set at the pinnacle of more than two thousand years of revealed history.
And for the past thousand years God’s prophets had been pointing to a Messiah. And if the people of God had of been true to their religion and to the word of God then they would have welcomed and enthroned Jesus as their messiah, but instead they crucified Him.
We shouldn’t blame God because he did not step in to intervene to save the Jews from the most colossal blunder in their history. Let’s face the facts; it was their fault, not God’s. In the same way that we can’t blame God when he doesn’t intervene to save the human race from the blunders that imperil their very existence.
God has done something, he has shown us the way that we should walk and the laws that we must obey. One of my favourite stories is about a man who lived in a town that was flooded and as the water got up to the front step a fellow shows up in a canoe and offers him a lift. “No thank you” says the first man “God will provide.” Well when the water got to the second floor another Good Samaritan arrived, this time in a speed boat with an offer to rescue the man, to which he gave the same response, “No thank you, God will provide.” Finally the water reached the roof where the man perched precariously on the peak. A helicopter passing overhead dropped a ladder to the man but he still insisted that he would trust God.
Well you know what happened, the water continued to rise and the man drowned. When he got to heaven he was furious, stalked up to God and demanded “what happened, I thought you were going to provide.” “Hey” God said “I sent two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?”
Even today God is saying to us as He said to His people through the prophet Jeremiah: Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.But the response today is the same as it was 2500 years ago, But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ Proving the reality of Proverbs 14:12 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
God had done something, He spent well over a thousand years preparing the way for His Son but the people chose their own way and nailed the Son of God to a cross.
And today we need to understand that God has done something. He has broken into human history and come to us and said, John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus is standing at the cross roads and pointing us in the direction we should go and still people choose to ignore both Christ and His message. And that shouldn’t surprise us, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.When we demand of God, “Why don’t you do something?” we are ignoring the fact that he was doing something and He was ignored and denied just as he is treated today.
Thirdly as we stand at the foot of the cross and demand to know why God doesn’t do something we discover that God is Doing Something. We have come to the place that we realize that the cross was not some tragic mistake, God wasn’t pacing the floor of heaven saying, “Well I guess we totally blew it on that one didn’t we?” The cross was part of the plan, but to be frank I don’t think it was plan A. I think God’s perfect plan was for his people, the people of Israel to accept Christ as their Messiah two thousand years ago, but man in his sinfulness thwarted that plan.
You say that you don’t believe that man can stand in the way of God’s will. Read your bible, from day one God’s plan was that man would exist with him in complete harmony and fellowship but that plan was destroyed when man choose to step out of the will of God and to reject and disobey God’s commands. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
Other translations say that He is not willing that any should perish. God’s will and God’s desire is that we should all go to heaven but some choose not to accept the salvation offered by Christ and they die and go to hell, out of the will of the Father.
And the truth is found in Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 2000 years ago God was looking down the tunnel of time and saw a young fisherman who needed his grace, and he was taking the steps even then for Denn Guptill’s salvation.So while I don’t believe that the crucifixion was in Plan A it was still within the will of God as He allowed His Son to die on Calvary as a sin offering for the world. God’s will and His love for mankind were being worked out even in this the darkest chapter of the history of men, when they tried to kill the son of God.
God had not forsaken Jesus in his hour of greatest need. God was there, suffering with His Son on Golgotha. That Good Friday morning 2000 years ago God was doing something, something decisive and conclusive. He was making His ultimate response to human sin. It was there at the place of the skull that God carried the burden of the world’s sin and it was not only a burden of love but also a burden of judgement.
Justice says that if there is a right and wrong then there needs to be a reward for doing right and a penalty for doing wrong. And each one of us has done wrong, each one of us has in some way failed the God who created us and who loves us. We are reminded over and over again in God’s word that we have missed the mark. And if it was just God’s justice that had to be fulfilled we would be punished. But the story of the crucifixion isn’t about justice, it’s about grace.
The story is told in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.It’s not about getting what we deserve, it’s about us getting what we don’t deserve, forgiveness, salvation and absolution.
We see only a small portion of the whole picture if we see the cross as simply the martyrdom of one man. But the reality is that it was here at Golgotha that the greatest battle in the universe was being waged. The scene of the last decisive struggle against all the forces of evil that crucified Christ and that threatened our very existence.
Evil was judged at Calvary and from that point on evil had no future in God’s world. Evil is still our enemy but it is a defeated enemy.
Finally when we stand in the shadow of the cross demanding why God doesn’t do something, the answer comes back God Did Do Something. Had the story ended when Jesus was laid in the tomb, if the closing of the grave had been the closing of the book, then Christianity would have had the same beginnings as the rest of the great religions of the world, a charismatic leader, a small group of devoted followers and a shrine located over the leaders grave.
And the truth of the matter was that on that Good Friday when Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took down the body of Jesus of Nazareth and laid it in a borrowed grave, that at that point then Christianity was no different then Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism or any other ism.
And at that point when they took the body of Jesus of Nazareth and laid it in the ground, at that point Christ had been right, His Father had forsaken him and when he needed God the most God had turned his back on his only son. For all intensive purposes as we look at the empty cross for three days we would have to ask ourselves, “God, why didn’t you do something?”
But God did do something, because today is not Friday, today is Sunday. Today is the third day, today is the day that we celebrate Resurrection Sunday.
Because when the women went to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning, they went with heavy hearts to prepare the body of their friend. And each one of them was struggling with the question “God why didn’t you do something?” And He answered them with the empty tomb.
Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings did what no other man had ever done before and what no other man has done since. He rose from the dead to die no more. You see in answer to our demands God says “Look at the empty tomb and then you will know that it was all for you.”