Saturday, March 29, 2014

“A Question of Suffering” (Matthew 27:46)

S-1421 4MIL/3A 3/26/2014 Hymns: (O) #153 vv 1-2; S #156; (C) # 153 vv 3-4

Texts: Psalm 27:7-14; Hebrew 9:23-28; Matthew 27:45-49

Theme: A Question of Suffering” (Matthew 27:46)

Question: “Have you experienced loneliness?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text is from the Gospel lesson And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).


As we continue our journey this evening to Golgotha, remember the precious truth—Jesus lived and died for sinners. His sacrifice is the means by which the Lord forgives and saves. But there’s more to our salvation than the tale of an unfair death. Jesus’ third-day resurrection is proof that the Redeemer is alive and can bless and be with His people always. We pray this evening, that the Holy Spirit will be with us in this lonely world.

There is nothing more dreadful than being alone. Loneliness is a silent cry, a deep moan, a wail, a gasp, a sigh that comes from the center of your heart and the core of your being. It is the fire that burns the soul of man.

Though we have over 7 billion people in the world it is still a very lonely place. I would like to introduce you to Walter Samaszko, Jr. of Carson City, NE. I would like you to meet him, but I can’t because Walter was found dead in his home in June of 2012. Sadly, Walter Samaszko, Jr. had died sometime in April or May. Walter died and nobody noticed. That surprises me because Walter had lived in that home since the 1960s. He was part of a community, a neighborhood. Even so nobody knew or missed him; nobody checked on him; nobody knocked on his door. Walter died a lonely man.

Walter died a lonely man, but not a poor man. He was not a destitute soul who cut himself off from others because he feared somebody might laugh at his poverty. No, Walter wasn’t poor. As his house was being cleaned for sale, authorities discovered gold bars; gold coins, both common and collectable. Best estimate: Walter had $7,000,000 worth of gold. Even so, $7 million in gold wasn’t enough to stop Walter from dying alone; it wasn’t enough to stop him from passing from this world unremembered, unmissed, and unmourned.

But Walter isn’t alone in this tragic life style. Many people are lonely. Listen to a portion from a diary of Judy Bucknell of Miami, Fl who was found dead with seven stab wounds. “Where are men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food…I would like to have in my life once before I pass this life.” She goes on: “I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up. What about me! What about me!” Though she is surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Here is another entry: “I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever…” (Madeleine Blais, “Who is going to Love Judy Bucknell? Part 1, Tropic Magazine, The Miami Herlad, 12 October 1980). PAUSE.

This is a lonely world and you know it too. Can you hear the loneliness? The abandoned child, the divorced mother of 3, the empty home and emptier mail box; the long days and longer nights, a mound of dirt at a cemetery, a forgotten birth­day, a silent phone.

Cries of loneliness are loud! Listen again. Tune out the traffic and turn down the TV. The cry is there. Our cities are full of Walter Samaszko and Judy Bucknells. You can hear their cries. You can hear them in the convalescent home among the sighs and the shuffling feet. You can hear them in the prisons among the moans of shame and the calls for mercy. You can hear them if you walk the crowded streets, forgotten dreams and aging homecoming queens. Listen for it in the halls of our high schools as a kid sit on the basketball bench and where peer pressure weeds out the “have-nots” from the “haves.”

This cry is known by all people in our society. From the top to the bottom, from the failures to the famous, from the secular to the spiritual, from the poor to the rich; from the married to the single. Walter Samaszko and Judy Bucknell were not alone.

You, too, have tasted this loneliness. You have had your share of tears and sighs and gasps. You have tasted the bitterness of the long days and longer nights. Maybe you have pretended like others that everything is ok. Maybe you have fooled some of your friends to think you got it all together; but as you look into the mirror the stark truth rears it is ugly head and you know that you are alone and miserable. Then, in the seclusion and darkness you lift your eyes heaven ward and cry out to God “Dear God why have You abandoned me?” PAUSE.

It is a lonely world. Come closer and listen as we stand by the cross tonight. Listen carefully to that figure suspended like a ladder between heaven and earth and hear the most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in his­tory. This cry didn’t come from a prisoner or a widow or a patient or a high school student. No, it came from the cracked lips of the Messiah—God’s Son—His only Son.

For three excruciating hours Jesus hangs in darkness, cut off from any comfort, any hope. He is battered and ravaged as His Father unleashes wave after wave of His furious wrath at our sins, which Jesus—the heaven sent Savior has taken upon Himself. On that dark and dismal Friday the Man from the cross screamed out My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” “Dad, why did You abandon Me!?” Never have words carried so much hurt. Never have words expressed such deep grief. Never has one being been so lonely—as that night when Christ was crucified.

Jesus’ screams to His Father is heart-wrenching and gut-splashing. He wants relief and not to be abandoned by the One whom He loves and serves. But tonight, on Skull Hill, Jesus the Lamb of God becomes the sin-bearer and alone. Every lie ever told, every object ever coveted, every promise ever broken, every filthy thought and deed is on His shoulders. He is SIN. And God…turns away.

The despair is darker than the sky. For the first time from eternity Father and Son are at opposite sides. He who was in the beginning with the Father is now alone. The Christ, who is an expression of God is abandoned, forsaken, left out in the cold and heat to die a lonely death. The Trinity is dismantled. The Godhead is disjointed. The unity is dissolved and Jesus can’t take it anymore.

Jesus withstood the beating, the humiliation, the mockery, the departure of His closest friends, the mock trial. And yet He remained strong. But not until His Father turned his face away from Him did He cry out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He just couldn’t take that loneliness away from the loving Father and the comforting Holy Spirit. The wail rose, the anguish increased, the pain suffocating and hell tasted.

His lips are cracked, His heart is broken, His eyes are swollen and He knows He becomes the scum of the earth in the sight of His Father. He knows God sends His wrath upon Him; and punishes for the sins of all of humanity. That is why He screams out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” PAUSE.

Certainly, the world is a lonely place. But thanks be to God twenty centuries ago the Son of God changed our lot. He who was forsaken by God, died and rose so that we may never be forsaken. He who was abandoned because of sin, now takes our sins away, so we will never be abandoned. He who endured the wrath of God, gives us His grace and love every day so that we will never taste God’s wrath.

Though Walter and Judy are the poster-children for this world, yet they are still cherished by the Savior of the World and so are we! On account of the sin-bearer we don’t have to be lonely any longer. Certainly, the world is a lonely place. But none of us have to be alone. The Lord who has saved us is here tonight. And because of this saving, we are joined to Him forever and ever. To Him alone be all the glory now and always. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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