Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"*
What was happening at this solemn moment of anguish and revelry was a far cry from what had taken place only 5 days ago. 5 days ago in the midst of a grand and ‘triumphant” entry into Jerusalem from the main street outside the main gate a jubilant crowd had cried out Hosanna, Hosanna; Blessed art thou the Son of David…Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord…Hosanna in the highest!…The euphoric crowd made this joyful cry to Jesus, who had ridden into Jerusalem on the foal of an Ass. They believed him to be their Messiah and now in a strong sign of support and filled with new vistas of victorious hope, herald him as their king, believing that Jesus was about to take over the government and finally get the cruel Roman government off their necks and restore Israel back to a place of prominence and power.
Here they were, paying him a “royal homage,” fit for a conquering king as they took off their coats and literally lined the street with them and for those who didn’t have a coat to lay in the street, took palm branches and laid them along with the coats in the street. The air was full of the cry of jubilation. Euphoria was in the air, because their “Shiloh” has come. But now as we fast forward to what we have come to know as “Good Friday”, many of the same people, who were part of the “Hosanna” coat and palm branch honor crowd have tragically switch allegiance. Somewhere between Palm Sunday early Friday morning, they realized the kingdom that Jesus spoke (the Kingdom of Heaven) was not a kingdom of this world.
Now, all of those joyful “Hosannas are being replaced with words of savage cruelty, derision and disdain….Now, instead of bowing down in submissive honor, or lifting up holy hands of praise, they are wagging their heads and blaspheming with their mouths…..crying “crucify him, crucify him… spitting at him, deriding him. You who said you will destroy the temple and in 3 days build it back up again…save yourself!....saying other things like saying if you be the Son of God, come down off the cross and we will believe in you. Jesus, before he laid down his life on the cross would speak 7 times, making 7 declaration statements that would have epic significance to us in life in terms of how we should personally relate to God and how we should conduct our lives as followers of Christ. Let’s examine this statement Jesus made while hanging on the cross.
“Feeling Forsaken by God the Father”
In Matthew 27:46, the Bible said: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"*
By the time we get to the 45th verse of Chapter 27 of Matthew, it was about the 6th hour (high noon), but you couldn’t tell it by the demeanor of the sky. The sky has lodged its response to the cruelty of this moment and the crucifixion of the Son of God, The next 3 hours would be the time that the elements of the sky would use for mourning. … There will be a protest from the sun. The sun will pull down its cosmic light shades and drape the shy in darkness and the sun…the s-u-n will refuse to shine while the Son of God is dying…The moon will need medical attention, because the moon will get so upset, it will begin to hemorrhage, and drip away in blood, And, though nailed to a Roman made cross…a cross that’s a sign and symbol of cruelty and capital punishment, a quiet but agonizing Jesus up to this point hasn’t said a mumbling word. But as it gets nearer to the 9th hour, that final hour of mortality, all of a sudden, Jesus breaks his silence and cries out in a loud and anguished voice: Eli…Eli..lama sabachthani…which is translated: My God…My God…why have you forsaken me? Really? Jesus feeling forsaken?
These words, the words Jesus had just spoken were words quoted from Psalms 22:1. This statement is of great importance. Jesus not only quoted from this Psalm, but in their deriding him, the Pharisees in the crucifixion crowd spoke a quotation from another part of this same Psalm. The question is: Did God the Father really forsake Jesus, His Son? Now, there are scholars past and present would attempt to make you think so. The truth is, the Father didn’t forsake him and the plan of salvation/redemption was not threatened in any way. The world needed a savior and “sin” needed an “Atoner.” One of the writers from Barnes Note Commentary made the following statement: “Take deity away from any redeeming act of Jesus Christ and redemption is ruined.” Isaiah 53:10 (Amplified Version) puts it this way: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
The Expression: MY God…My God…What does it really mean?
The expression: My God…My God in this context expresses “intense suffering”. Jesus was, according to Isaiah Chapter 53 a “suffering” servant. Boy, did he suffer! Remember, before being nailed to the cross, Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by a kiss from Judas, then arrested, and marched from Pilate’s judgment hall to Herod’s judgment hall and then finally back to Pilate’s again. In that melee, Jesus was pushed, harassed, punched, kicked, scourged with whips, sticks, put on a purple robe, a crown of thorns pushed down viciously upon his head and verbally abused by the Roman soldiers who executed the onslaught. Both God the father and Jesus knew before the foundation of the world that the Lamb of God (Jesus) was to be slain and the perfect sacrifice and “blood” payment for the Sin of Man. Both knew that Jesus would bear all of our grief.
Isaiah 53:1-10 gives us a great summation of what Jesus was to encounter:
“ He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. (Matthew 8:17.) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all. (1 Peter 2:24,25.) He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living [stricken to His death] for the transgression of my [Isaiah's] people, to whom the stroke was due?
And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. (Matthew 27:57-60; 1 Peter 2:22,23.) Some have said it has been difficult to understand in what sense Jesus was "forsaken by God." But not really! There is no doubt that God “approved” his work and approved of His work. After all, Jesus is HIS beloved Son, in whom HE is well pleased! Here are the facts:
2nd Corinthians 5:21 (Amplified Version) tells us:
“ For our sake He made Christ (virtually) to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become (uendued with, viewed as being in, and examples of) the righteousness of God (what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness). Truthfully, Jesus knew no sin. He became sin for us. He was never sinner, never committed a sin and was not like man born in sin and shaped in iniquity. Jesus was completely innocent! He had done nothing to forfeit the favor of God. Jesus was still holy, harmless, undefiled, and completely obedient. God still loved him. In either of these senses God could not have forsaken him.
The feeling of being forsaken by God the Father in my opinion and the opinion of many other scholars speaks to what was going on in the mind of Jesus in his humanity. Consider the following real scenarios from our human perspective:
Physically, considering the tremendous physical beating Jesus took from the soldiers before the cross and on the way to the Hill of the Skull (Calvary), coupled with the verbal abuse he endured along the scourging process, it would be natural for anyone who was dependent of God to carry them through a grueling ordeal like this to desire to feel his presence as an assurance that they were not going through it by themselves.
In a time like this, any person experiencing this type of suffering and extreme anguish who can’t feel the spiritual presence of God might ask God if he had forsaken them. But remember, the cross was to method that Jesus submitted to in order to condemned and “crucified sin” “in the flesh” that we through our confession and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Messiah (Savior) and the “finished work” done on the cross in the redemptive process might be made the righteousness of God through Salvation. God hates sin and Jesus at this time was bearing the Sin of man all over the whole world. A song writer puts it best here: “How can I live in sin and feel my Savior’s love. No Jesus did not live in sin, but because he was bearing all of our sin” from a spiritual perspective, the presence of Our Sin laid upon him possible put the same barrier between him and God (again, all part of the redemption process) as it did in our flesh when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden and we disobey HIM now in our daily living outside of Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus felt the same barrier we feel when we are not in right relationship with Him because of our un-confessed sin and grieving of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 22:52-53, Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."
It was the time when God allowed his enemies, including the Jews and Satan to do their utmost. This is the fulfillment of what God prophesied to Adam and Eve concerning the “enmity relationship” between the ‘seed” of the woman and the serpent. Here, God said that the “SEED” (Jesus) would bruise the serpent’s head and the serpent (Satan) should bruise his heel. The Common understanding of that prophesy meant that, though the Messiah would finally crush and destroy the power of Satan (Revelation 20: 1-10), yet he should himself suffer (during the time of His earthly ministry in fulfillment of the Redemption mission) "through the power of the devil." When he was tempted in Luke 4:1-13, the Bible (New King James Version) said after Satan tempted Christ, the tempter "departed from him for a season for a more opportune time."
In various times throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, Satan randomly reared his ugly head in various people in an attempt to trap and kill Jesus, but failed in every attempt until the time when God would allow it to done to fruition. This lets us know that no matter the life circumstance, God is in complete control of every event and has an ultimate plan for all who are willing to trust HIM with their very lives through Jesus Christ. God permitted Satan to return at the time of Jesus’ death to exercise his power to increasing the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in his human form. In what way this might have been done can be only conjectured. It might have been by horrid thoughts; by temptation to despair, or to distrust God, who thus permitted his innocent Son to suffer; or by an increased horror of the pains of dying but whatever the case, Jesus felt a separation.
According to Barnes Notes’ Commentary, God the Father may have withheld those strong religious consolations, that is, those strong clear views of both the justice and goodness of which would have blunted his pains and soothed his agonies.
Remember when Jesus left heaven in his glorified state, he emptied himself of some of his attributes in order to fulfill the mission of “Redemption and Salvation”. So by design, in order to feel the pains of life in the same manner as we do, Jesus laid down those godly attributes that would hinder him experiencing these things we as human beings feel in the course of our lives.
It has been said that Martyrs, under the influence of strong religious feeling, have gone triumphantly to the stake, but this group of scholars contend that it is possible that those views might have been withheld from the Redeemer when he came to die. Quote: “His sufferings were “accumulated sufferings”, and the design of the atonement seemed to require that he should suffer all that human nature "could be made to endure" in so short a time. Again Isaiah 53:4 (Amplified Version) reminds us: “ Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God” [as if with leprosy].
Finally, He Said This In Our Behalf:
When you consider that Jesus was dying on this cross not for anything that he had done wrong, but out of love God has for a fallen race that was originally made in the image and likeness of God. John 3:16-17 tells us just how much God loves us:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.
And then consider what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 5:8-11:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation”.
And last , but not least what is said in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [uendued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness] we have reason to think that there was still a much deeper reason why Jesus said this exclamation. The truth is Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us. He was made a sin-offering ( a living sacrifice) because he died in our place, and on OUR account, that he might bring us near to God. It was this, doubtless, which caused his intense sufferings. It was the manifestation of God's hatred of sin, in some way which he has not explained, that he experienced in that dread hour. It was suffering endured by HIM that was due to US, and suffering by which, and by which alone, we can be saved from eternal death.
So what can we take from this first saying? Sin causes an awful barrier between God and us. When anyone chooses to live a sinful life, it is very hard to feel the presence of God. At a certain point, your conscience will become seared like a hot iron. You will become very insensitive and tend to make excuses for your sinful actions, not realizing that in the hardness of your heart, you are really unaware of be what that sin(s) is doing to you. The longer you remain in a rebellious state, the easier it will be for the Devil to convince you that you are better off doing our own thing and taking control of your own situation because, as he wants you to believe, God has forsaken you, a belief that is far from the real truth.
The truth is God has never forsaken anyone, the “forsaking” came from us. After a while, the Devil will have you so convinced that God doesn’t love you and even if he does, you are beyond saving. For the child of God who lives in carnality, at a certain point your sin will overtake you and you will began to completely fall away from living according to the will and way of God and find yourself in a worse state than you were originally in when God saved you the first time. But, there is still hope.
God said in 2 Chronicles 7:14:” If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then shall they hear from heaven, and I will come and forgive their sin, and I will heal their land”. The “Amplified “Version of the Bible put it this way: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land”. So know of a certain that no matter how hard the trial or the persecution the child of God finds themselves dealing with, God never has and never will abandon you in your hour of trial. Hold on ole soldier. Hang on in there. Help is on the way! Remember these words of comfort and encouragement Jesus gave the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:10
“Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Dr. William Edward Boddie