“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ ” Mark 15:33-34
I look upon Christmas Day, 1990, as the loneliest day I’ve ever spent. That year I was a student missionary in South Korea and family was far away. Most of my friends were far away, as well, since all three of my roommates had left to be with family for the holidays. I was, however, encourage as I remembered how my family had made sure to call my great aunt Jo when she had been serving as a missionary in Botswana, Africa, so I settled in to wait for the phone to ring.
We had a television in our apartment but there was only one English Channel, AFKN, Armed Forces Korean Network, the official television channel of the American military in South Korea. All day they broadcast favorite Christmas shows and movies. In someways it helped to pass the time but in other ways it made it worse because it underscored the fact that I was all by myself on Christmas Day.
I could have walked a few blocks and spent some time with the women teachers that had stayed for the holiday but I didn’t want to miss that phone call from my family so I waited, and waited, and waited. And the phone call never came.
What Jesus was experiencing on the cross was a sense of separation a hundred fold, perhaps a thousand fold, more intense that what I felt that day.
There had never been a day that had not been filled by communion with his Father. Not an hour had passed where the Spirit’s presence hadn’t been felt. Never was there a single moment when the connection between the members of the Godhead had been severed. Never until now.
Ultimately, the most profound consequence of sin is total and complete separation from God. We’ve never experienced that. It’s true that there’s always a barrier between us and God. Without it we would be destroyed. But if it were totally severed we would die because all life comes from God. Also, the Holy Spirit is continually at work bringing his presence into as close a connection to us as we will permit.
Only the lost will ever experience the complete disconnection from God that Jesus felt that day but they won’t feel what Jesus felt. Jesus loved and yearned for connectedness with his Father and this was denied.
Jesus was separated from the Father so that we never have to be. And it will only be after we’ve spent a million years in intimate communion with God that we will even begin to appreciate what the buying of this gift cost our Savior.