Over the years, Sue and I have known people who have either adopted a child or who have been adopted at birth. Despite being raised in loving and accepting families, they often struggled with feelings of being rejected and unwanted. The one question that haunted them was, ‘Why did my birth parents give me up?’. They would reason without hesitation that they were given away because there was something wrong with them. Guilt would follow because now they feel disloyal to their adopted families for feeling the way they did.
Even if this is not your story, you are familiar with the feelings of abandonment and being given up on. It is one of the most debilitating emotions we can experience and inflict upon another person.
Jesus knows exactly what it is like to be completely abandoned and all alone. As he hangs on the cross, the sky is in darkness from midday to 3pm. What an eerie atmosphere it must have been! His friends have all abandoned him. On the cross in absolute physical and mental agony, he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (15:34). This is the only time Jesus prays to God and doesn’t call Him ‘Father’! Even God, it seems, has abandoned him. Darkness was truly his only friend.
Jesus was in darkness because the sin that separated humanity from God, separated him from his ‘Father’. On the cross, Jesus bore upon himself the wrath of God for the sins we have committed. As someone said, ‘On the cross, God treated Jesus as if he lived your life so that he could treat us as if you lived his life!’. Because of our sins, Jesus literally felt God forsaken and forgotten.
Jesus gave up his relationship with his Father so that we can have a relationship with God as our Father. He was condemned so that we can be forgiven. He was rejected so we can be accepted. That is what Isaiah 53:5 is saying, “But he was pieced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brough us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed”
Timothy Keller puts it this way, “Jesus Christ experienced darkness as his only friend so in your darkness you can know Jesus is still your friend; that he’s still there”. In Jesus, God says to us, “Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you”. (Deuteronomy 31:6 – Amplified Bible)