Q. Please explain to me the words of Jesus on the cross, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What does this mean? Did God actually forsake Jesus on the cross? I thought God would be with us in our darkest moments. I don’t understand.
33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Here we have Jesus on the cross saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”: This is a statement made up of both Hebrew and Chaldee words. This is the Chaldee paraphrase of the text in Pslam 22:1 – which says:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.” that is to say, my God, my God, why has you forsaken me?
There are a number of interesting reasons for this statement. I believe at this moment Jesus was feeling his Humanity. He was fully man. He calls God his God, He was chosen by Him by grace of God to be the Son of God; He was made and formed by Him (physically); He was anointed by Him with the oil of gladness; He was supported and upheld by Him in the day of salvation; He was raised by Him from the dead, and highly exalted by Him at His own right hand. As a man, Jesus prayed to Him as his God, believed in Him, loved Him, and obeyed Him as a man, and though now He senses a distance from God, He expressed strong faith and confidence of His interest in Him.
When Jesus asks: “Why have you forsaken me?” the meaning is not, that the union with the Godhead was dissolved, which was not even dissolved by death itself; because the fulness of the Godhead still dwelt bodily in Him: Nor was He separated from the love of God; He had the same interest in His Father’s heart and favor, both as His Son, and as mediator, as ever: At this moment as a man, He was now without a sense of the gracious presence of God, and was filled, as the sacrifice of all mankind, with a sense of divine wrath, bearing the sins of all mankind, the suffering which every man deserved, and which was necessary for Him to endure, in order to make full satisfaction for them; for one part of the punishment of sin is loss of the divine presence. Therefore He did not utter this statement out of ignorance or surprise, Jesus knew what He was saying. And it was not out of personal disrespect to Jesus, or for any sin of His own; or because He was not a righteous,or a wicked man, but because He stood in the legal place, in the place of all sinners. It was not out of impatience, that He makes such a statement; for He was entirely resigned to the will of God, and content to drink the whole of the bitter cup: It was not out of despair; for He at the same time strongly claims and asserts His interest in God, and repeats it; I believe that this statement, a quotation from the Book of Psalms, demonstrates that Jesus was suffering all that sinners deserved to suffer. He was suffering for all mankind, and He felt the suffering deep in his soul. It is evidence of the truth of Christ’s human nature, that He was in all things made like his brethren; that He had an human soul, and endured sorrows and sufferings in it, of which this sense of desertion was not the least. Jesus felt the distance between God and man because of man’s sins to bring us near to God.