On the cross Jesus uttered a fascinating sentence. We find it in Matthew 27:45-46, Jesus said “My God, My God, Why has thou forsaken me?”
If you have been in the church for even a short time you have heard this quoted. Perhaps you have even heard sermons on the subject, but have you thought about that text and what it means about Jesus and what it means for us who find ourselves attempting to preach on this weekend?
Here is Jesus, who the Father calls God in Hebrews 1:8. That Jesus who is fully God is also fully connected to humanity. A connection so strong that he yelled out the cry that we also find in Psalms 22. A connection so strong that he could feel forsakenness.
Yes, Jesus felt the strength of the curse that comes from sin for as we are told in Galatians 3:13 connected to Deuteronomy 21:23, cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. Yes Jesus decided to take that curse on himself. But that curse ripped from his lips this anguish cry of forsakenness that we see here. We preachers love to preach about that Sunday morning.
It is hard to find a Black preacher who has not uttered the words “EEEEEAAARRRRLLLLLYYY Sunday morning” and that is good. But if you ain’t felt Friday evening, your bellowing about a Sunday morning shout will have an emptiness.
Without Friday evening, our Sunday morning shout will not connect to the people as it should. Now I am not attempting to preach a sermon on the incarnation or on the deity of Jesus Christ in this article, but I do want to talk about preaching that gets to Sunday morning without coming to terms with Friday evening. Because truth be told Friday evening is where some of your congregation is living during the week.
In fact some of us know that feeling of forsakenness, but we don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to come to terms with it, for fear. We get up and preach a tame sermon. It is as if we talk about God’s power to get us past the stubbed toe we had this week, when someone has been shot this week.
It is as if we talk about God’s ability to help us keep our temper under control at work when someone has lost her job this week. It is as if we talk about how God scraped together money so that we can go on a vacation when someone has lost their house this week.
It is as if we fear that our God won’t go into the hell where some live. Does God have something for the rape victim? Does God have something for the family of the murdered man. Does God have something to say to those who live in areas where their children seem destined to failure and defeat. Does God have something for the truly forsaken?
Now, as I look at this scripture, I must admit that we don’t get an apologetic. We simply get a statement of forsakenness. That tells me that ain’t nothing wrong with feeling forsaken. It also tells me that there may not be an answer right now.Even if there is an answer, we may not be in a position to hear it right now.
So what does this mean to preachers? It means that it is alright to allow your own pains and hurts to show. If Jesus could, then we can. It means that if we will go into the depths of human pain, we may have to sometimes recognize that there may not be an answer that we can give in a nice 30 minute sermon.
It means that just because we don’t know why, doesn’t mean that we can’t allow for pain to be articulated. In fact, it means that there is power in just articulating your pain. I am reminded of the old Negro Spiritual, “Sometimes, I feel Like a Motherless child, a long way from home.” or “Deep river, my home is over Jordan, deep river, I want to cross over into camp ground.” The Black slave knew that sometimes you just had to sing from your pain. Sometimes you just have to have some “Lamentations.”
There may be a time to shout, but there is also a time to cry. And you have a God that is with you while you are shouting and while you are crying. In our rush to get to the “shout”, we skip Friday evening. And as long as we do that, we take something away from Sunday morning. Sister and Brother preachers. I know you have been there on Friday evening. Let people see Friday evening. And then when you talk about Sunday morning, it adds greater power to that proclamation.
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13 thoughts on “My God, My God, Why….?”
This is good meat for the soul. Without a beginning, I can’t get to the ending. The problem is I can’t handle Friday either. But if it had not been for Friday, I wouldn’t know that only my Heavenly Father, without a shadow of a doubt, can give me a shout on Sunday. Thanks Professor Cox II. You turned the light on this dark situation. I was blind and could’nt see, but now I can hear what thus saith the Lord.
This absolutely on point, we must show the pain of the Gospel. We are so afraid to preach Jesus these days that we commonly avoid the gospels and go to every other chapter in the Bible!
Preach it brother! Without Friday we do not see the terrible price sin inflicts on us nor God.
Greetings fellow suffers of he Gospel,
I firmly believe that when we experience 2Timothy 2:15 as God intended, we will find that studying the word of God involves all of our senses. This is how we are able to lift the life off of the 66 and make every situation relative to our human experience. By the power of example, Christ has gone before us and has shown us …as any true leader would do..our do’s and don’ts, our wills and won’ts. When we follow his lead, we express the life force in scripture and become eye witnesses that 2 Corithians 12:9 will make us (along with Paul) boast even more about Friday every time it comes around. It is the Grace of God that is essential and noteworthy because Christ Himself never said life would be easy, but scripture does tell us that God’s Grace is sufficient..it is the Grace of God that we lose sight of during those moments of despair and tragedy. It is also the Grace of God that keeps us…inspite of our temper tantrums or growing pains.
I have been through much pain, and this has all made me who I am today. That pain sometimes comes through in my sermons, and blessedly makes them more meaningful. And we wouldn’t have Sunday morning if the pain of Friday had not happened! Great article, Pastor Sherman
Thanks, for shedding the light on a dark subject! I am reminded, to allow God’s word to deal with the pain in my life. Too often we preachers think we have to push beyond our pain, to stand and preach with purpose, to persuade and inspire!
Thank you. This was a great eye opening article. I never realize that our own fears can distract from the hearer and myself receiving full deliverence. Pastor Cox truth was told in this article and as a minister I receive it for my better and those I speak to good. Thank You again.
Expressing pain in a sermon needs to bring hope to others that might be going through a process and needs a word to give strengh so they can see that joy comes in the morning . If Christ being Son of God felt how one can feel forsaken in time of darkness, we also can preach out of our darkest times knowing that we must keep going on knowing God will bring good out of the hurt, it will make us stronger. Keep sharing .
“We preachers love to preach about that Sunday morning. It is hard to find a Black preacher who has not uttered the words “EEEEEAAARRRRLLLLLYYY Sunday morning” and that is good. But if you ain’t felt Friday evening, your bellowing about a Sunday morning shout will have an emptiness.”
Excellent observation! Great article Brother Cox!
Now this right here is what I am talking about. I truly believe that in the ministry the Lord has presented to me I am going at it with transparency and truth. There are people out there who are going through the exact same type of problems as I am and some even worse. Who am I to stand and preach at them instead of to them. My transparency about what the Lord has done for me is my ministry. People already put preachers on a pedestal and then when we fall then all seems to be lost. I know spiritual discernment is key in being transparent without putting yourself in danger. When I minister it is my transparency about my “Friday Nights” (plural) and how the Lord brought me through onto Sunday morning!!! excellent read and thank you.
That is good stuff brother! Praise the Lord and thank God for you!
AS A PROBATIONER IS IT POSSIBLE TO IMPACT THE CHURCH IN PREACHING GOD’S WORD?SAMORA
my denomination is Baptist ,i serve under a native Baptist mission in southern africa.still trying to find my footing in the pulpit
A few years ago I became aware of something that bothered me. I God said He would never leave or forsaken us sinful humans why would He forsake His son in the process of making the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. God wouldn’t forsake Jesus but how or why did the scriptures say this. So, led by the Holy Spirit I came across George M. Lamsa’s Aramaic Peshitta, the language many scholars believe was the primary language Jesus spoke and taught His disciples in. What I found brought peace to my heart and made perfect sense. What pastors have taught here in the West for hundreds of years is a gross mistranslation of Matthew 27:45-46 that says “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” should read Eli, Eli, lemana shabakthani. The proper translation is – My God, My God, for this I was spared (this was my destiny).