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My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? (17 of 18)
Series: The Greatest Questions of the Bible and of Life
Clarence E. Macartney
The religion of Benjamin Franklin, as outlined by his statements and his published creed, was far different from that of the evangelical church. Nevertheless, when Benjamin Franklin came to die, he directed that a crucifix, or a picture of Christ on the cross, should be so placed in his bedroom that he could look, as he said, "upon the form of the Silent Sufferer." When we read that incident, we conclude that he was not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. It is when we center our thoughts and our gaze upon Christ on the cross that we come to the heart and power and glory of the Christian faith.
Of the Seven Words from the cross, this is the only word recorded in the first two Gospels, Matthew and Mark. The fact that these two writers record this prayer of Jesus is a strong testimony to the authenticity and credibility of the Gospels; for had the Gospels been the work of some forger, he surely would have omitted such a prayer as this, in which Christ confesses, or seems to confess, that God has forsaken Him, for such a confession would be out of keeping with the claims of the hero and with the works elsewhere attributed to Him.
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over the face of the earth. This is a darkness that no science can explain. It was not the darkness of night, for it came on at twelve o'clock and lasted until three. Nor was it the darkness of an eclipse, for the moon was at its full. It was nature's great expostulation and protest against the crucifixion of her Lord and Maker.
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When He, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature's sin.
This period of darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth seems to have been also a period of silence. None of the Seven Words from the cross belongs to this period of darkness. But at the ninth hour Jesus broke the silence with his cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Because of the similarity in sound between "Eli" and "Elijas" or "Elias," some of those who stood by thought that He was crying for Elijah. Incidently, this was a great tribute to that mighty prophet. It was Elijah who had been summoned up out of the unseen world to talk with Christ about the cross and the Atonement, when with Moses he appeared in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. If anyone out of the Old Testament could have helped Christ in this hour, Elijah was the man. In the hours of stress and danger when the storms break over us, not the easygoing, easy-principled men are the ones who help us, but men of iron and granite, men of storm and struggle, men of tremendous conviction like the prophet Elijah.
It was not Elijah for whom Christ was asking or to whom He was crying, but Elijah's God. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" What was back of th ...
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