And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
The words ‘‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” come from the first verse of Psalm 22. The Jews who were acquainted with the Torah would have recognized these words and would have immediately thought of Psalm 22 in its entirety.
These words have often been used to support position that Jesus was abandoned by the Father at the cross. However, if God had abandoned Jesus, this would have only justified the condemnation of the religious Jewish leaders who led the charge in condemning Jesus to death. It would have proven he was not the Messiah.
This is an important point because Jesus made the claim that his death on the cross would prove he was the Son of God (John 8:28-29). If his death on the cross did indeed prove that he is the Son of God, then the words he recited from Psalm 22 must have been a part of this undeniable evidence.
Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 are the two places in the New Testament where Psalm 22:1 is recorded. In both instances the scriptures record the response of the Centurion Soldier who heard Jesus cry out these words. His conclusion, according to Mark’s gospel was “truly this man was the Son of God.” (see Mark 15:34-39)
We need to ask ourselves: what persuaded the Centurion Soldier that Jesus was the Son of God?
Consider the following which give evidence that God was indeed present with Jesus as he was dying on the cross:
GOD DID NOT HIDE HIS FACE FROM HIM
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; NEITHER HATH HE HID HIS FACE FROM HIM; but when he cried unto him, he heard (Psalm 22:24).
HE WAS HEARD
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and WAS HEARD in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:7-9).
I AM NOT ALONE BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME
I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I AM NOT ALONE, BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME. (John 16:28-32)
THE FATHER HAS NOT LEFT ME ALONE
Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: THE FATHER HATH NOT LEFT ME ALONE; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:28-29)
HE IS NEAR WHO JUSTIFIES ME
The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For THE LORD GOD WILL HELP ME; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. HE IS NEAR THAT JUSTIFIETH ME; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. BEHOLD THE LORD GOD WILL HELP ME; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. (Isaiah 50:5-9)
BY THE GRACE OF GOD HE TASTED DEATH FOR EVERY MAN
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he BY THE GRACE OF GOD should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9).
GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that GOD WAS IN CHRIST, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
THROUGH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT JESUS OFFERED HIMSELF TO GOD
How much more shall the blood of Christ, WHO THROUGH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT OFFERED HIMSELF WITHOUT SPOT TO GOD, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)
JESUS SHED HIS BLOOD AS AN UNBLEMISHED LAMB
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (1 Peter 1:18-20),
THE DEATH OF JESUS WAS A SWEET FRAGRANCE TO GOD
Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor (Ephesians 5:2).
THE WORDS “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” IS ONLY ONE OF SEVERAL STATEMENTS MADE BY JESUS FROM THE CROSS.
JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF FORGIVENESS
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34)
JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF PROVISION
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:27)
JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43)
JESUS SPOKE WORDS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:28-30). And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 15:46).
JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF TRUST IN GOD
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
Consider the following:
1. Jesus was delivered to the cross, not from the cross.
2. It was the will of God for Jesus to lay down His life and to take it up again.
3. God did not intervene to rescue Jesus from the agony of the Cross.
4. Jesus was protected from those who wanted to destroy Him until the time came that He should lay down His life (John 7:30).
5. Jesus endured the grief of human suffering for He is a High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
6. The sense of abandonment experienced by Christ was provisional not relational. God withdraw his protective hand when the time came for Jesus to lay down his life; in this sense he was delivered over to death by God as our sacrifice. Jesus was not relationally separated from God.