Recently I was on the Jersey shore for the English District Pastor’s Convention. I had been lecturing all day and before the final talk of the night I had an hour and a half break. So I grabbed a hotel towel and headed for the waves. When I got there, the beach was completely vacant except for two older ladies who were bundled up sitting together on folding chairs. I asked them if I could leave my things with them while I ran into the water. I told them that I was there for a pastor’s conference. When I returned from my brief frolic in the surf, they asked me a question. One of the ladies said she had been wondering what it meant when Jesus said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" I explained to her that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 and pointing us to the prediction of His crucifixion. She then replied, "Isn't there more to it than that?" Since she had already packed up her things and was just about to leave I told her, "It's going to take a couple minutes." So the two women got their chairs back out again and sat down and listened.
I told them that in the Old Testament there's a story about an older brother being mistreated by his younger brother. The older brother gave his birthright to the younger brother for something worthless—food. Also, in that story the mother dressed the younger brother up in the finest clothes of his older brother. Now because of this, the blind father saw the younger brother as worthy to receive the older brother's blessing; not realizing it was the younger posing as the older.
Paul tells us in Galatians 3:27 “You who were baptized have been clothed in Christ.” I told them that in the same way, in their baptisms, they have been dressed in the very finest clothes of their older brother, Jesus. They said, "Well that's interesting, but how does that relate to Jesus saying 'My God, my God why have you forsaken me?'" I said that back in that Old Testament story when the father gave the blessing to the younger son, the older son cried out, “Father, bless me too!" But the father told him once the blessing was given, it could not be taken back. It was irrevocable.
It was Esau, the older, who was the original dearly loved son of the father, but because the promise could not be taken back, the father now blessed the younger son, Jacob, and the older son was cursed. Or maybe you have heard, "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated."
The Son cried out on the cross, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" God hated his dearly loved Son, in order to love you! Your Father in heaven has blessed you because his Son was cursed in your place.
But wait, there´s more! Sometimes I pray to God, "Help my unbelief," but this is not what we see when Jesus was on the cross. Not at all! Jesus prays, "Into your hands I commend my spirit." I explained that, “He places Himself in the hands of His Father. He shows absolute undying faith in the face of complete rejection. He keeps the law perfectly for us, He subjects Himself to death on a cross, and then He commends Himself to the God who has forsaken Him. He has faith where we have none. Then He presents us to His Father as those who have perfect trust in His own unshakable faith. He calls us faithful.”
The women said to me, “That's amazing! We've never heard it like that before.”
And isn't that just the way it is with Jesus? He gives a mercy that is completely unheard of.