I watched his labored breathing, waiting for the moment when his chest would stop fighting.
As a minister, I was often associated with death, but the calls usually came after the fact, not before. My father is the only person I can remember watching die.
As my mother, wife, and I stood around his bedside in Atlanta, Georgia, our emotions flowed as we watched him taking his final breaths. We had made the difficult decision, at his behest, to remove him from life support and let nature take its course. After forty-five minutes of eternity, his chest stilled, and the scribbling on the nearby monitor straight-lined. He was gone. Our reactions differed, but sadness flowed through each of them.
I wonder how God felt as he watched his Son take his last breath. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46 NLT).
My father’s suffering came from Mercer, which he had contracted while in the hospital for heart surgery. Jesus’ suffering came from the spikes that fastened his hands and feet to a Roman cross. But the larger reason for his agony—and the reason his Father turned away—was our sin.
God is holy and cannot be associated with sin. His love led him to send his Son to die for humanity’s sins, but as he did, the Father was forced to look away. He could not gaze on his Son. Not only did Jesus die for the world’s sins, but he also became sin for them as well.
It must have pained the Father to turn his back, even if temporarily, on his Son, but the sorrow was transformed into joy three days later as Jesus arose from the dead. Now, the Father looks at his work as complete. But more importantly, he sees anyone who accepts Jesus’ sacrifice as cleansed and forgiven.
God will never look away from those who look to him.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and freelance editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of the internationally recognized website, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing, and Assistant Editor for Vinewords.net. He has also served as Web Content Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. Wiles has authored Don’t Just Live…Really Live (Ambassador International), A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World (Ambassador International), Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, and Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), Rise (Chaplain Publishing), and Love Knots (Vine-Word Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and has also written for Lifeway’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Christian Living in the Mature Years, Mature Living, Parenting Teens, Open Windows, Proclaim, Stand Firm, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, The Upper Room, The Upper Room Disciplines, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, Power for Living, Halo Magazine, Joyful Living Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, Converge, Sharing, Today’s Christian Living, These Days, Plum Tree Tavern, Eskimo Pie, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Creation Illustrated, LIVE, Purpose Magazine, The Banner, Relevant, Bible Advocate, Reasons to Live, Author Magazine, and Lutheran Digest. Wiles has also written for the Bridges and Pathways Curriculum (Warner Press) and is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, PCC Daily Devotions, Theology Mix, Inspire a Fire, The Write Conversation, Inkspirations, and VineWords and is a regular writer for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles has also served on faculty for the Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference. crat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions , the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and as a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. You can follow him @linesfromgod.