God, why have you forsaken me?
by Bill Baltz
Ever attended the New Years Day Parade in Pasadena, Calif.? I recall that on one occasion I watched the last of the parade going east on Colorado Boulevard with viewers close behind. I wondered what it would be like to join the procession. I then recalled an occasion, or two, where I had been to the viewing site. The thought came to me. What would it have been like to go the distance to the viewing site? What would it have been like to go to the Golgotha viewing site on Good Friday to see Jesus’ execution?
At that time, it was Passover time and many Jewish pilgrims marched into Jerusalem in a parade celebrating their deliverance from death in Egypt many years before. Another parade consisted of pure, unblemished lambs being led into the city to be slaughtered so that each household would be provided with the appropriate sacrifice. Specifically, one would be sacrificed in the temple for the forgiveness of the people. Get the picture? The lamb of all lambs, the greatest lamb (of God) would be sacrificed on Good Friday on our behalf.
The great prophet Isaiah declared, hundreds of years before, that Jesus would be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53). He would be abandoned by His friends, falsely beaten and then tortured on a cross that even a Roman criminal could not be asked to face.
Before being sacrificed, the High Priest would examine the lamb chosen to be sacrificed to insure that it was pure and unblemished. The pure, unblemished Lamb of God would be examined by Pilot and be found innocent as Pilot declared, “I find no fault in Him,” and then take a bum rap on our behalf.
Jesus rides in to town to take away our sin, yes. Yet, he also rides in to know physical pain, the pain of our minds and souls that can be hurt and broken. The writer of Hebrews said that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with us because He has faced the test (Hebrews 4:14-16).
We can boldly, confidently, and with assurance approach our Savior who knows what it’s like to be abandoned by friends, falsely accused, get the raw end of the deal, and finally bear unreasonable physical pain. His final words were “My God, why have you forsaken me? Have any of those words come close to your feelings?
The parade begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday with the cries of Hosanna (“Save us”), as the conquering Jesus is welcomed. He rides into town surprisingly on a simple mule, but one that has never been ridden and yet is not thrown off. Do you think the mule knows that his creator is on board?
Jesus beckons us all. Hear his words: “Come unto me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I invite you to follow the parade — all the way to the viewing area and see what has been done just for you.
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.