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?
Why Was Jesus Forsaken?
It has always been a mystery why Jesus cried out that His God had forsaken Him. Was it because God is too holy to even look at sin and, since Jesus had taken upon Himself all of our sins, that God had to turn away (Hab 1:13)? Is this why there were several hours of darkness at Calvary? Notice that this is the only time when Jesus referred to God as My God and not as His Father. Was it because in His humanity He was bearing the sins of the world? Jesus seems to be quoting Psalm 22:1, where it says the very same thing about God forsaking Him. If you read Psalm 22, it seems to be about the very things that Jesus endured on the cross. People shook or wagged their heads at Him and mocked Him (7), they mocked Him and despised Him (6), they divided His garments among themselves (18), He thirsted (15), and they gaped with their mouths wide open at Him (13). This didn’t catch Jesus by surprise. He knew it was coming.
Have I Forsaken God?
I wonder not so much if the Father forsook Jesus, only at the cross, but how many times I have forsaken Him. I know I have many times when I went my own way, when I sinned against God and did what was evil in His sight (Psalm 51:4). I have lied, which is something God cannot do (Rom 3:4), and against my God have I sinned time and again, so I cry out for mercy (Psalm 41:1). If we are all honest with ourselves, we have all forsaken God from time to time, but thankfully God is rich in mercy and His grace abounds even more than our sin (Rom 5:20).
He Was Forsaken for Our Sake
Imagine having an only child. You have to sacrifice your only child so that you can save those who at the time are your enemies and are wicked, evil sinners (Rom 5:8, 10). None of those your child died for deserve what you have given them. Imagine your only child is innocent of all that those he or she is dying for have done. That is what it must have felt like for the Father. We know that Jesus died for sinners and suffered like no man has ever suffered before (Isaiah 53), but we often forget how the Father must have suffered seeing such torture and agony placed on His Only Son, Who had never sinned. That is what the cross is all about: Jesus dying for those who deserved to die and for those of us who have forsaken Him. Instead of asking why the Father forsook Jesus at the cross, I should ask why I have forsaken God so many times.
A Closing Prayer
What love You displayed, oh Father, by giving Your only Son on the cross to die for me and others who deserved only the wrath of God, but instead, because of Your love for sinners, You sent Your One and Only Son to die for me (John 3:16). I thank You for the greatest sacrifice ever known, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
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