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The Cost of Belonging — 13 Comments

  1. Jennifer, your whole article got me to thinking. In a way I can see why Jesus felt that separation, He couldn't perceive the Father's presence and that was unusual for Him. However, that does raise some questions. What was His thoughts concerning the prophesies that predicted victory and what about Isa 53 the clearly foretold the experience He was having, certainly He knew those things. It also raises questions about my own faith. We have an abundance of promises in the Bible but why do we so often succumb to doubt concerning God's love for us and entertain a certain foreboding doom of eternal loss? After all, Jesus talked about, "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41 NKJV), He didn't say it was prepared for us.

    • Tyler , excellent questions. From what I understand, the trauma was so severe that the brain lost its ability to "playback" stored information. We see something similar in Job, who, though faithful, became so overwhelmed by emotion that he said things that under normal circumstances would be considered evidence of a loss of faith. God was present, but unperceived, so as far as Jesus was concerned, He had been abandoned.

      • And----because He was human. That was the very moment we have as proof He was man, tempted like we, yet sinless.

        Divinity had to leave, however briefly for Him to suffer the fate of man. And no, I do not mean at any point of His life here was He not God. A mystery yes. But He had to at some point become alone in order to teach us, you see. To identify with us and us with Him. This should be evident to those who claim He did not face temptation as we, those who bare false witness as against Him.

        • Jennifer, I think there are things about the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ that we will never fully understand, even to the end of eternity.

          It is my understanding that the Father never really left His Son but rather it was a perception that Jesus had that broke His heart. The Desire of Ages, p 753 seems to be a bit confusing on the issue but she does say, "His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son" (read at least the whole page to get the context). To me Satan was crowding out His view of the Father in an attempt to discourage Jesus to the point of hopelessness. It is the same as he has always done only far more intense. Despondency is one of the devil's greatest tools and he welds it with the accuracy of a master surgeon.

    • Jennifer, there are a couple of things I would like to say and engage your thoughts on.

      First, as I read the book of Job to me it becomes rather apparent that Job had a profound faith in God even with all his troubles. He never trashed faith in the fact that God existed and that He created him. What seems to have been his problem was in understanding what was happening to him. He had problems seeing God as, "a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6 NKJV).

      Second, the title of your article is "The Cost of Belonging" and in it you mentioned Fred, the family dog. Have you ever wondered why both you and Mike are so attached to Fred? Why is it that a creature of another entirely different species becomes so much a part of the family? And why does Fred have so much of a desire to be with the family and attach himself so profoundly that he will even defend both of you at the risk of his own life? I have even heard of a couple of cases where an abandoned dog waited for his master's return for weeks, months and even years.

      I have to admit that as one who has been single all his life and now in his 70's that I have trouble understanding those kinds of relationships. I don't understand how two people can have such a close intimate relationship that a married couple can desire to be together for most of their entire lives. And for me to understand why God could desire communion with all His creatures who are so far below Him that the relationship you have to Fred seems almost mundane and for Him to go through what He went through on the cross solely for the benefit of His creatures puts me in the twilight zone - I simply can't understand it.

      • Tyler, I've been married for 37 years so far, and am still learning about loving her. If God permits, I will spend many more years in learning and loving her.

        More importantly, I've been a Christian for 5 years more than I've been married, and am still awed by the wondrous love of God for us. And I look forward to an eternity of growing in understanding that infinite Love.

        If you don't understand it, I know how you feel. How can the finite grasp Him who is infinite? But we can try, and we can grow to be each day a little more like Him.

  2. Yes, Jesus felt the separation that we sinners deserve (and may experience but for the grace of God.) And as we know that He felt the deepest depths of abandonment, we know that He understands the most down times we go through.

    At the same time, when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?", He was quoting from Psalm 22:1. As such, it may have been also a rhetorical question, an expression of understanding that He was fulfilling the prophecy of that Psalm. As I read the rest of the Psalm, I see statements of faith in the latter verses, and even a hint of the resurrection. Psalm 22 stands as a whole, a mix of thoughts and emotions. I'm sure Jesus experienced mixed emotions as He hung on the cross, in both physical and emotional agony, but loving those who stood or hung around Him and, above all, choosing to trust His Father in spite of the darkness of the circumstances (Luke 23:46).

    • I just read in Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, pages 209-215, part of a chapter entitled, "The Sufferings of Christ." In those pages, she quotes four times the words of Jesus, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" The sacrifice of Christ for our salvation is much deeper than we can know.

    • John, my pastor refers to Psalm 22 as representative of Christ's sufferings on Calvary, Psalm 23 reflective of Christ's rest on the Sabbath, and Psalm 24 referring to the resurrection. Psalm 24:7-10 can be readily seen as the atmosphere and response in heaven when Christ ascended to receive God's assurance that His sacrifice had been accepted.

  3. "All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.{DA 753.1}
    Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God."{DA 753.2}

    • Thank you Nick for providing the first two paragraphs of Desire of Ages, page 753 and that is important in understanding that there was to be a separation. The question, however, remains; how did that separation manifest itself. I suppose that this is getting a bit nitpicky but I believe there is a lesson for us to learn in all of this.

      Look at what she says in the fourth paragraph of that page.

      In that thick darkness God's presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father's presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him (DA 753.4)

      Here she seems to be looking at the cross from the humanity of Jesus point of view where he couldn't physically see God and yet God was there. This would also be in line with what Paul said about the whole thing, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19 NKJV; Jn 12:32). Jesus was both the High Priest officiating the offering and the offering itself. Jesus sacrificed Himself, "I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (Jn. 10:17-18 NKJV). It wasn't something separate from God that was sacrificed; God Himself died on that cross.

      To me this entire thing is difficult to make sense of if we consider it solely on the basis of the physical but if God was physically present and yet the humanity of Jesus couldn't perceive of His presence then things seem to fit together. To me this is important to understand because those who go through the last plagues will suffer the same emotional stress that Jesus faced on the cross. They will feel abandoned yet God will be with them. It is like the story of the footprints in the sand where the two sets of footprints become one because Jesus is carrying us; we need to be shown that in hindsight before we are able to see it. We think we are alone and that our prayers never rise higher than the ceiling in our room when in fact it is those times when God is closest to us. As it was with Jesus so it will be with us. By faith we need to see God and believe that He is near for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5 NKJV; conf. Deut 31:6; see also Jn 8:29).

  4. Jennifer: Absolutely beautiful accounting of the immense love of the Godhead in the extreme sacrifice that each experienced in Calvary's separation. Though assailed by Satan's temptations to give up hope, Christ's mind was sharp to trust in God's revealed Word. This is seen when He cries out the first lines of the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 22, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" This psalm follows many of the prophecies that were fulfilled at Calvary and then transitions in verse 21 with "You have answered Me" after which it delves into a beautiful recounting of the rewards of Christ's sacrifice. It is quite possible that in quoting the first lines of Psalm 22, Christ was claiming the entire prophecy which included the fruits of His supreme sacrifice. In other words, while Satan pressed the guilt of humanity upon the heart of Christ so that He "could not see through the portals of the tomb" (DA, 753), the fact that in the midst of this darkest hour Christ quoted this prophecy is quite telling. It tells us that when we are surrounded by darkness and cannot feel God's presence, we must follow Christ's example and cling to the promises of Scripture in full trust that the reward will follow the promise.

  5. Jennifer, your original post was inspiring but yet humbling. How often I have read the triadic expressions, but never noticed the change to the mention of 2 members of the Trinity in Jesus' final moments on the cross.
    Even as angels ministered to Christ in the wilderness, and Garden of Gethsemane, they also cared for Christ on Calvary. When darkness veiled the cross from human eyes, "the Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father's presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him." (Desire of Ages 754) It was during this time that Christ cried out His belief that He was forsaken, echoing His perception that "their separation was to be eternal" (DA 753:2).
    "Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpet-like tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, 'It is finished.' 'Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.'" (DA 756:2)
    It's my belief that the Givers of Life, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, had to step away from the cross so Jesus, the God-man could die.


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