My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
What did Jesus mean when He said those words?
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our father trusted in thee: they trusted and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breast.
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Ba’shan have beset me round.
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
But be not thou far from me. O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
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.
My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the governor among the nations.
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
‘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? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, this man called for Elias. Matthew 27: 45-47’
Jesus was quoting a Psalm written by the prophet-king, David, centuries before crucifixion had been invented. The reason Jesus was quoting this well-known Psalm was because the people standing there were taunting Him on the cross with His claim to be God’s Son
(Matthew 27:43) and an appeal for divine help would have been expected. Their saying, “This man is calling for Elijah” was not conjecture about what He said but was simply an extension of their cruel, cynical mockery.
What Jesus was doing was crying out in anguish because of the separation He was experiencing from His Heavenly Father for the first and only time in all of eternity. This is the only time Jesus did not call God as Father. This is because Jesus had taken sin upon Himself, and the Father turned His back to Him. The Father was separated from His Son for a brief time at Calvary, as the furious wrath of the Father was poured out on the sinless Son, who in matchless grace became sin for those who believe in Him. God turned His back when Jesus was on the cross because He could not look upon sin, even-or maybe because it was His own Son.
We have to remember Jesus didn’t die as a martyr for a righteous cause, or because He was an innocent man wrongly accused and condemned. Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, His Father had to judge Him fully according to that sin. The Father forsook His Son because the Son took upon Himself “our transgressions, and iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
When Jesus was forsaken by the Father, their separation was not one of nature, or substance. Jesus did not in any sense or degree cease to exist as God or as a member of the Trinity. He did not cease to be the Son, any more than a child who sins severely against his human father ceases to be his child. But Jesus did for a while cease to know the intimacy of fellowship with His heavenly Father, just as a disobedient child ceases for a while to have intimate, normal, loving fellowship with his human father.
By the incarnation itself there already had been a partial separation. Because Jesus had been separated from His divine glory and from face-to-face communication with the Father, refusing to hold on to those divine privileges for His own sake (Phil 2:6), He prayed to His Father in the presence of His disciples “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:5)”.
At the cross His separation from the Father became immeasurably more profound than the humbling incarnation during the thirty-three years of His earthly life.
As already mentioned, the mystery of that separation is far too deep even for the most mature believer to fathom. But God has revealed the basic truth of it for us to accept and to understand to the limit of our ability under the illumination of His Spirit. And nowhere in Scripture can we behold the reality of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the anguish of His separation from His Father more clearly and penetratingly than in His suffering on the cross because of sin.
In the midst of being willingly engulfed in our sins and the sins of all men of all time, He writhed in anguish not from the lacerations on His back or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with His heavenly Father that His becoming sin for us had brought.
All Glory to God
His humble servant Lee M Buchanan