Monthly Message Apr 2020


He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” 

(Matt 28:6)

Dear friends,

In the midst of the suffering, sadness, uncertainty and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis our risen, reigning Saviour gives us deep comfort and eternal hope.  However, we can only rejoice in our Lord’s resurrection because of his substitutionary death for us. He went into ‘voluntary self-isolation’ to save us from something far worse than the deadliest virus – our sin – because through our sin we have put ourselves in ‘self-isolation’ from God. So let us reflect on those familiar, yet profound words from the Cross:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

He was utterly alone.

When Jesus was born angels filled the sky at the announcement of his birth.

When he was baptised, his Father affirmed him from heaven.

When he was tempted by Satan, and was with the wild animals, angels attended him.

But – when he prayed, in deep agony in Gethsemane, his disciples fell asleep.

When he was arrested, everyone ran away.

When he was on a so-called trial, Peter kept his distance.

And when he hung on the cross, even his Father had forsaken him.

On the cross Jesus drained the cup that was given him in Gethsemane; a cup containing the undiluted wrath of a sin-hating but sinner-loving God.

When Jesus died, for you and me, he died alone.

Ps 37 :25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken… “

But here was the Righteous One forsaken.

Throughout the history of Israel God had always stood by his people:

– in cruel slavery in Egypt;

– helpless before the Red Sea;

When three Hebrews were thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace – every time, the Lord was with them.

But here, on the Cross

– with a cry more agonizing than ever went up from Egypt;

– in a situation far more alarming than the Red Sea crisis;

– in a torment more fierce than Nebuchadnezzar’s fire;

– there was no reply from heaven. “Why have you forsaken me?”

He was demonstrating the true nature of sin.

In this cry from the Cross we see the ‘exceeding sinfulness of sin’ and the depravity of the human heart:

– hatred of God,

– base ingratitude,

– love of darkness rather than light,

– preference for a murderer rather than the Prince of life.

We see the awful character of the Devil:

– hostility against God,

– insatiable enmity against Christ,

– putting betrayal of the Saviour into the heart of rnan.

We see the perfection of divine nature:

– God’s utter and pure holiness,

– his inflexible justice,

– his terrible wrath,

– his matchless grace!

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

–  because of the extent of sin

– and the depth of divine grace.

He was the sinner’s substitute.

II Cor 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

“…..the sinless Jesus was made sin by being condemned to a criminal’s death, and having to endure the ignominy and the punishment of the cross, solely that those who are sinners indeed might be acquitted by the holy God and be free to enter upon a new life pleasing to him”.  [RVG Tasker]

So we are also to see here the wages of sin as well as its awfulness.

The wages of sin is spiritual death, being cut off, alienated, from God.

So it was when sin first entered our world:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden”. [Genesis 3:8]

So it was with Cain who, when confronted by God, said:

“My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence”. [Genesi4:13,14]

Sin excludes from the presence of God, and the Holy of Holies and the temple veil (which was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died) constantly reminded ancient Israel of that.

Just as physical death separates soul from body, so spiritual death separates soul from God.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus experienced that separation from God that is our deserving and destiny, – in our place!

What intense holiness, what desperate need, what profound love are portrayed here!

If we have any doubts as to the awfulness of sin, any doubts as to whether Jesus really died in our stead, any doubts as to what sin means in eternal terms, let us allow this cry of the Saviour to speak directly to our hearts:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Your brother in Christ,

PS We are closely watching the development of the Coronavirus pandemic and still hope to hold Bible Focus this year, but will decide later.  Meanwhile the date is: September 12th!