The Intercession of the Suffering Man
By Benjamin H. Liles
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ~ Psalm 22:1, Expanded
We're told within scripture that around three o'clock in the afternoon Jesus "cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' This means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me'" (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34, Expanded). How do we know it was three o'clock in the afternoon? In the King James version it says, "The ninth hour." If dawn happened around six in the morning, six hours after is noon, so three hours after being the ninth hour would be three in the afternoon.
Big deal, some may say. I contend it is a big deal. Jesus could only use those words as His time of death was near. In a huge way Jesus felt forsaken. Or did He? Further reading into Psalm 22 we read, "You are holy. The praises of Israel are your throne. You had my mother give birth to me. You made me trust you while I was just a baby. Praise the Lord, all you who fear him. All you seed of Israelites, glorify him; fear him, all you Israelites. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will worship him because rule belongs to the Lord, and he rules the nations" (Psalm 22:3, 9, 23, 27-28).
We are told in a number of scripture verses that the Messiah who suffers is the One whom Israel ought look to for salvation. Examples of such verses include:
1) He grew up like a ·small plant [young plant; tender shoot; 11:1] before ·the Lord [L him], like a root growing in a ·dry land [parched soil]. He had no special beauty or ·form [majesty] to make us notice him; there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him. He was ·hated [despised] and rejected by people. ·He had much pain [L A man of pain/suffering/T sorrows] and ·suffering [one who knew/was acquainted with pain/grief]. People ·would not even look at [turned their backs on; L hid their faces from] him. He was ·hated [despised], and we ·didn’t even notice him [or did not esteem him]. ~ Isaiah 53:2-3, Expanded
2) But he was wounded for ·the wrong we did [T our transgressions]; he was crushed for ·the evil we did [T our iniquities]. The punishment, which ·made us well [brought us wholeness/peace], was given to him, and we are healed because of his ·wounds [lacerations; T stripes; 1 Pet. 2:24]. We all have ·wandered away [T gone astray] like sheep; each of us has gone his own way [1 Pet. 2:25]. But the Lord has put on him ·the punishment for all the evil we have done [L all of our sins/iniquity]. ~ Isaiah 53:5-6
3) He was ·buried [assigned his grave] with ·wicked men [criminals], and ·he died with the rich [or he was put in a rich man’s tomb; L with the rich in his death; Matt. 27:57, 60]. He had done ·nothing wrong [L no violence], and he had ·never lied [L no deceit in his mouth; 1 Pet. 2:22]. But it was the ·Lord who decided [Lord’s will] to crush him and make him suffer. The Lord made his life a ·penalty [sin] offering, but he will still see his ·descendants [offspring; seed] and ·live a long life [L extend his days]. ·He will complete the things the Lord wants him to do [L The pleasure/will/purpose of the Lord will prosper in his hands]. “After his soul suffers many things, he will see ·life[a] [or light; or the light of life] and be satisfied. [By his knowledge/experience] My ·good [righteous] servant will ·make many people right with God [justify many]; he will carry away their ·sins [iniquities]. ~ Isaiah 53:9-10
The whole point of this is that Jesus fulfilled all these scripture verses and others, which I do not have the time to share (maybe in a different post later). The point being made here is Jesus intercedes on our behalf before the rightful Judge of the world and universe. By Jesus giving utterance that He feels cut off from the Father shows how we would feel in our unrighteousness before a just and holy God. And Jesus was sinless. He went to the Father in our place without any blood guilt, with no regard to self, but for all of mankind. He traded all of who He was and is so we could have right standing with the Father. He did what He did to fulfill what God said.
Jesus offered this parable to the religious leaders of Israel: "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a tower. Then he rented it out to some tenants and went away on a journey. When the harvest time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the crop. But the tenants seized his servants. They beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first group. But the tenants did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance!’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard returns, what will he do to those tenants?” (Matthew 21:33-40)
All of us have sinned, transgressing God's holy law, not simply the Jewish leaders who expressly didn't want this Jesus who was going to suffer on their behalf. These leaders thought because they were God's elect He would surely keep them as they descended from Abraham, their family patriarch. But genealogy means nothing. It's all about who you know and Who knows you. If you don't know the Father, doing His will, taking up your cross and following after Him, what's there to keep you from continuing on in the paths of wickedness?
Gong back to Psalm 22 we read this, "Lord, ·I praise you [L from you comes my praise] in the great ·meeting of your people [assembly]; these ·worshipers [L who fear him] will see me ·do what I promised [L fulfill my vows]. Poor [or Afflicted] people will eat ·until they are full [and be satisfied]; those who ·look to the Lord [L seek him] will praise him. May your hearts live forever!" (verses 25 and 26, Expanded). So, while yes, Jesus is suffering in our place so we can stand before God without feeling tremendous fear or guilt, He's also praising God for the work He is doing through the Son.
For it is by repentance, having a change of heart and mind, to give up spiritual and moralistic wickedness, putting it off for the grace and mercy of God that we have access to a holy and just God. Does He truly enjoy those whom He loves? I contend He doesn't. He does so in order we might learn something of Him, who He is, and that His ways are perfect. He does those things so we can enjoy and glory in Him. After all Jesus said, "But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him" (John 4:23, Berean Study).
Father, You alone are holy. I bow my knee before You knowing nothing good dwells in my heart. I desire to do the good I ought, but my flesh rebels in wickedness toward you. It is not me that desires this thing, but sin which I daily crucify so I can have access to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to know more of You and Your ways. Be my portion so that I can extend the Bread of Life to others. I always want to be a part of Your light that shines. You call me Your child, and I want to always have that access to You as Your child. Yet, i still see myself as Your servant, an envoy sent to offer diplomacy and a way to You through Jesus Christ. I pray this in Jesus. Amen.