“It’s all about relationships.”
Those were the opening words of a speech my former history teacher and long-time friend gave at a ceremony held in his honor.
John taught high school students for more than three decades. In the classroom, he challenged his students to excel to levels that most of them never thought possible. He also coached basketball and directed his school’s athletic program for years, leading young men and women to achieve great things on the court and on the field.
He has been a motivator, an encourager, and, most of all, a friend to hundreds of teenagers and their families over the years.
A few years ago, his service and accomplishments were honored when a new athletic center at the high school was named for him. Hundreds of current students, alums, school officials, and friends turned out for the dedication ceremony.
When his time came to speak, John said, “It’s all about relationships. And the thing that motivates me most to do what I do is my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
The crowd jumped to their feet in thunderous applause, because they recognized that John’s words were genuine and real.
It is all about relationships. God offers us a relationship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. And that central relationship with Jesus transforms all other human relationships we have – in our friendships and our families, and every aspect of our lives.
God is relational. Throughout eternity, the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has enjoyed an unbroken relationship together. Jesus spoke of His relationship with the Father on many occasions. In John 10:30, He said, “I and My Father are one.” The night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples, “That they may be one as We are.”
The perfect relationship Jesus shared with the Father makes His fourth cry from the cross all the more painful to hear:
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46, ESV)
Imagine the scene: Pitch black, midnight darkness from noon until three in the afternoon. Confusion and fear pervading the atmosphere of Jerusalem and the surrounding region as people wonder, “Why has the sun hidden its light?” Then, a piercing scream of anguish from the Son of God: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me.” Those words, prophesied by David in Psalm 22, reveal the anguish of the Lord’s breaking heart.
The word “forsake” means to separate connection with someone, to abandon them, or to desert them. From a theological and spiritual perspective, it is impossible for us to understand or explain how God the eternal Son could be separated from God the eternal Father. Yet the words of Jesus speak loud and clear; He was forsaken by His Father on the cross.
As Jesus became our sin, He endured sin’s penalty – total separation from God. For those moments that must have seemed like forever, Jesus was severed from the Father’s life, His life, and His love. In short, He endured the torment of hell on the cross as He died for us. Why was He forsaken of God? So that you and I might never be!
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).
Today, because Jesus was willing to be forsaken by His Father on the cross, we can have a close, personal, and eternal relationship with God.
It’s all about relationships. God loved you so much that He endured the ultimate pain and abandonment so that you can be His forever!
Have a great day and keep moving forward!
Suggested Bible Reading
Today as you pray …
Thank God for pursuing a love relationship with you.
Praise the Lord that because of Jesus, you will never be forsaken by God.
Ask for His cleansing from specific sins in your life.
Commit yourself to live today for Him, knowing the great price He paid to redeem you.
During Holy Week, leading to Resurrection Sunday, “Moving Forward” devotionals will focus on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross.