The Cosmic Conspiracy, Part 12
The cries and cheers of the crowds that swarmed around the crucifix turned into muffled side conversations of groups of people giving their opinions and commentaries as to why Jesus was hanging on a criminal's cross. An occasional jabbing jeer was spewed out by those who were hoping to see proof of Jesus power as they disappointedly exited the scene. Those who were just following in the procession to Golgotha because of all the excitement had long since left to go back to their daily routine. Just another Roman execution. Just another day under the heavy hand of Rome. Whatever hope there was in Jesus being the long-awaited Messiah, or even being the leader of a new and improved insurrection, was just nailed to a cross. The glory days of Israel may be just a prophetic illusion that the Jews just had to hold in their national soul to give them some meaning to continue to call themselves, God’s chosen people.
As Jesus hung suspended on filthy iron spikes He had to exert every ounce of His human physical strength just to breathe. All the masses of people that followed His ministry and hailed Him the miracle-working Messiah had dwindled down to a handful of sympathizers that included His earthly mother and only one of His disciples, John. The Jewish leaders left token representatives to stand by and make sure the death of Jesus was certified, and a few Roman soldiers were stationed at the scene to see the execution to its end and then dispose of the bodies.
Jesus’s breaths were getting slower and shallower as impending death was stalking around the foot of the cross. Overhead, demonic vultures were circling the soon to be carcass waiting for the signal from their demon master to descend and eat. I can imagine Satan, so filled with pure hate, took the opportunity to perch himself on the cross and drive his mocking and gloating spikes deep into the heart and soul of Jesus. The “accuser” shows no pity, mercy, or concern for his victims. Before he devours them he will drain every ounce of dignity out of humanity as he boasts against the Almighty that death is always more powerful than life. And now, the one Who claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, was in the clutches of his claws about to be crushed to death.
“What a fool you are, Jesus. You could have avoided all of this by just bowing down to me.” “Where are all the crowds who hailed you?” You said if you were lifted up from the earth you would draw all men to you - I only see your pitiful mother and one of your miserable disciples.” “Your mission failed.” “Humanity loves darkness and hates the light.” “Once I snuff you out, I will feast on the souls of all these hapless humans and rule this God-forsaken planet.”
The fully surrendered soul of Jesus did not respond back. We can’t imagine the torment of the temptation that must have surged through Jesus to want to rip Himself off the cross and physically fulfill the ancient prophecy of crushing the head of Satan under His feet. How satisfying that would be to stomp this slithering serpent to death. How fitting an end to this epic battle that Jesus would finally take a stand against Satan and display the infinitely supreme power resident in His being and declare to the people of the earth and the spiritual forces of wickedness that HE IS LORD. But, Jesus hangs there seemingly defeated and overpowered by the lord of death and darkness. Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus claimed to have come to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus boasted of a Kingdom of righteousness that would invade Earth and free all those who were oppressed by Satan. It seemed Jesus was a liar, and now He was a loser.
As the execution languished into its third hour, the atmosphere began to shift. Unbeknownst to the death-obsessed demons and their bloodthirsty master, the angelic forces of Heaven were descending over the mount of crucifixion in the form of ominous storm clouds. This was a picture so often described by the prophets of old when they would see visions of Almighty God riding on an angelic chariot in the form of storm clouds with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder announcing His coming. God was hovering over His Son. Would this be the moment of liberation for Jesus?
Out of the deafening silence forced by the pressing weight of this darkness that was closing in came a soul-wrenching cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” Some of the bystanders thought that Jesus was calling on the prophet Elijah to come and rescue Him. Others were probably arguing about the meaning of what Jesus was trying to say in the gasping breaths of a suffering and dying man. Although only one sentence, it is a key to understanding how Satan interprets God’s word and His purposes, and therefore how Satan uses God’s word against His people just like he tried to do with Jesus about 3 years before during the wilderness encounter.
The trade language of the day was Koine Greek, a common-ized form of Greek that was spoken by the peoples of the Greco/Roman world. Each people group also had its own cultural language where they could communicate on a more intimate and relevant level. The language of the Jews in that region was a form of Hebrew called Aramaic. This is the language Jesus spoke, and the language He would have been speaking from the cross. This sentence could be what is called a double entendre, or a sentence that could be understood in two different ways depending on the intent, and the ability of the hearers to understand the true intent.
Many who study scripture believe that what Jesus declared from the cross came from Psalm 22, where David is crying out to God in the midst of all his pain and suffering. David cannot understand why God is not delivering him from the trouble. Why is God not answering? Why is God just leaving him hanging there in the midst of his torment? The word forsake can mean, to leave behind to suffer alone the fate of whatever is happening. If this is the case, and it is a direct correlation to the way David was feeling forsaken by God, then Jesus is truly feeling the agonizing pain of being forgotten and forsaken by His Father. From a strictly human standpoint this would be the overwhelming emotion and attitude of that moment.
Is this truly the case with Jesus? Did God actually forsake His Son? Could God forsake His Son? Did Jesus really believe that God had forsaken Him?
In Aramaic, this sentence can take on a different meaning- a meaning which Satan, his demons, and any who were (are) deceived by evil could not possibly understand. This sentence can also mean, “My God, My God, this is why you have left me here!” Or another rendering can be stated this way, “My God, My God, this was my destiny!” Why does this matter? It matters a lot!
Here is the scene played out in these two ways.
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
In the first setting, Jesus is in agony looking up into the storm clouds on which God is enthroned that are now hovering over His head. Jesus is crying out to His Father to rescue Him (as David did in the Psalm) from the physical pain of crucifixion and mental torment of Satan who is relentlessly taunting Him. Satan is boasting: “This is where the love of your Father ends. He will not help You. He will turn a blind eye to Your pain. You have failed, and Your Father is ashamed of You!” “You have become sin, and now you are eternally damned.” As the scene finishes, it looks as though Satan was right. God, the Father, does nothing. He turns His face away from Jesus, as if to forsake Him, and lets his son die, alone.
“My God, My God, this is why You left me here!”
In this scene, Jesus is looking up into the storm clouds at His Father, but it is not Jesus who is crying, it is the Father. Jesus looks into His Father’s eyes and sees that He is weeping. God, the Father, is the one in agony over the ravages of sin that have consumed His beloved Son. The Father is overwhelmed with pride and love for His Son, Who willingly submitted Himself to be the total and complete sacrifice for all sin, for all humanity, for all time. God, the Father, in that moment, was in excruciating pain as He placed the weight of sin and death upon the head of His Son and watched in the horror that only a parent can understand- His Son die in the place of all the guilty, for all time, including those who had just crucified Jesus in the name of God.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not die, but have eternal life.”
In His last breath, Jesus comforts His Father with these words, “This is my destiny. Into Your hands, I commend my soul.” He bows His head and expires.
This was a replay and redemption of the scene in the Garden when God calls Adam and Eve out from hiding after the great Fall, with the infamous line, “Adam, where are you?” In our traditional interpretation, we see an angry God confronting His humans with the sin of rebellion and pronouncing horrible judgement on them, and also on the serpent, Nachash, who had deceived them. Some commentators frame this passage in a more intellectual way in stating that God was asking a rhetorical question like, “Adam, where are you at? What were you thinking?”
However, a careful and thoughtful look at another rendering of the Hebrew wording used in this passage can paint a very different picture. The phrase, “where are you” could also be rendered as, “Oh, Adam, what has happened to you?” In this sense, it is God Who is weeping over the now fallen state of His beloved humans. In agony and pain, Almighty God must pronounce a judgment over them and cast them out of the Garden until He can eternally remedy the separation caused by sin.
Which view of God paints the picture of His heart as revealed in, “For God so loved the world…?” Which view of God do you think Satan holds to? Which view of God does Satan use to twist the truth of God’s heart towards humanity?
Part of the judgment was also a prophetic declaration of hope that this fallen state of man would not last forever. Out of this crisis, The Christ, would come and reverse the effects of the curse and destroy sin and death that now reigned over humanity. This Christ, the seed of the woman, is the one Who is said to come and crush the head (rule and authority) of Satan. From the moment that Adam, Eve, and Nachash left the Garden, the struggle for dominion of the earth ensued.
Now, thousands of years later, Satan has Jesus nailed to a cross. Jesus, the so-called “Last Adam,” who would fix the problem that the first Adam created; Jesus, the so-called Messiah, who would save the world from sin; Jesus, the supposed Christ of God; Jesus, the last hope for humanity was being crushed under Satan’s feet.
Satan, who was present at the first judgment of man for their great failure in the garden, was also present at this next great fall of man on the garbage heap of Golgotha. Satan was waiting for the judgment of God to be pronounced over Jesus, just as it had been pronounced over Adam. The wages of sin is death. Jesus had become sin, and now must die! Satan was waiting for God to curse His failed Son, and utterly forsake Him to the dark depth of eternal death. The storm cloud of damnation was hanging over Jesus’ head and He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Satan and every demon that was dancing around the foot of the cross must have stopped dead in their tracks as they waited for God to reply to the questioning cries of His dearly loved Son. If there was ever a moment of silence so impregnated with the destiny of humanity, this was it. What would God say back to His son? Would God comfort Him? Would God justify Him? Would God vindicate His Son and condemn Satan? What would God say?
When Jesus began His glorious ministry 3 years prior, the Father’s voice boomed out of Heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” Now at the end of His ministry, God said nothing. God did not deliver. God did not judge Satan again. God turned His back on His Son and conceded the victory to Satan, the lord of death, as Jesus bowed His head and died. The blood curdling shrieks of the underworld must have reverberated throughout the cosmos. The Cosmic Conspiracy had just succeeded in taking control of planet earth - unopposed. The millennia-old war was finally over and darkness triumphed over light.
I know you know that this is not the end of the story. In fact, it is really the beginning! What happens in the next 40 hours (or so) after the death of Jesus changes everything. So, stay tuned, and tune in...
by Pastor Jim Anan