Sayings of Jesus on the Cross: #4 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Matthew 27.46  

04 Jul

Why Did God Forsake Jesus? – Revealed Truth – Matthew 27 & Mark 15

What does sorrow look like? What does it sound like?

(Matthew 26:36-46 NIV)  Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” {37} He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. {38} Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” {39} Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” {40} Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. {41} “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” {42} He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” {43} When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. {44} So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. {45} Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. {46} Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

(Hebrews 5:7-11 NIV)  During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. {8} Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered {9} and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him {10} and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. {11} We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.

Our willful sin separates us from God

(Isaiah 59:1-3 NIV)  Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. {3} For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.

After all the beatings and stripes, the wounds and blows and the crown of thorns, Jesus sufferings did not end.  The rejection and humiliation was not all.  And now, after three hours with His wrists and ankles pierced with long nails, we must now consider what was the worst aspect of all His sufferings.

(Matthew 27:45-49 NIV)  From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. {46} About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” {47} When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” {48} Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. {49} The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

These words spoken from the cross are certainly perplexing.  How could Jesus be God and yet be forsaken by God? The word forsaken here carries the idea of “abandonment.”  Jesus’ statement reflects the fact that His greatest suffering upon the cross was not physical but was rather spiritual.

Why was He suffering spiritually?  Why was His soul in agony?  He was hurting spiritually because He was bearing the guilt of the entire world on Himself.  The Bible says that Christ “became” sin for us:

(2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

And this fact brought an agony to His soul that was unparalleled.  Jesus became the sinner’s substitute.

It was that the sins of sinners were being laid on Him, and the wrath of God against those sins was being poured out on Him.  This was the cause of His greatest anguish.  He had known nothing but perfect bliss and happy communion with His Father.  But now, with the sin of the world laid upon Him, that fellowship was cut off.  Great fear was upon Him.  Loneliness.  Darkness came upon His soul, as the light of the noon day sun was blotted out and darkness covered the land.

You see, for our sin, we deserve eternal wrath and punishment.  But during those final hours upon the cross, Jesus bore our sins for us.  He suffered the curse and penalty of sin for us, in our place.  At that time, He knew what we merit:  to be separated from God, to be away from His Presence forever.

And being the Infinite Son of God, He was able to suffer the equivalent of what we all deserve, though His sufferings took place on only that day.  Jesus Christ, as a Lamb, slain for us!  Feeling the displeasure of God the Father.  Bearing our sins.  Being our Substitute.  He took upon Himself all of our sins, so that we could be saved from sin forever.

God did turn His back on Jesus judicially but not relationally. 

In other words, God did forsake Jesus judicially because He was bearing all the sins of all men for all time and God cannot look on sin (Hab. 1:13).  Remember, God will not allow unrepentant, uncovered sin in His presence.  Jesus was temporarily forsaken judicially by the Father that we might never be forsaken by the Father.

On the other hand, God loved His Son Jesus and did not abandon Him relationally.  God didn’t stop loving Jesus and turn His back on Him for good.  For Jesus once told His disciples in (John 8:29), “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”  God did not abandon Jesus relationally even Jesus said that God would never do that.

You see, the words cried out from the cross are from (Psalm 22)…a psalm which parallels the suffering of David with that of Christ.  The psalm begins with despair but ends in its closing verses with renewed trust in God

(Psalms 22:1-2 NIV)  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? {2} O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

(Psalms 22:24-25 NIV)  For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. {25} From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

Jesus was pointing to the reality that even though He sensed judicial separation from the Father, He knew it was temporary and that His relationship with the Father was strong and would be restored.

DURING OUR TIMES OF SUFFERING, GOD IS NEAR EVEN WHEN HE SEEMS SO FAR AWAY. When we experience difficult trials and tribulations, we normally pray to God and ask Him for immediate relief.  However, as we all know, God answers prayer in His own time, so we may not receive immediate help from Him.  We may have to go through many days, or weeks, or months or years of trying times.

In the Bible, many great men of God experienced these types of emotions:

For example, David experienced a feeling of isolation from God when he was running for his life from Saul.

We read in (Ps. 13:1), that David cried out to God and said, “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?”

Job, who lost everything–his children, his wealth, his servants, his reputation, and his friends–experienced despair and isolation from God.  (Job 23:1-9).

(Job 23:1-9 NIV)  Then Job replied: {2} “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. {3} If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! {4} I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. {5} I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say. {6} Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me. {7} There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge. {8} “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. {9} When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

It is common and natural to feel Isolated from God when we experience difficult times, however, the Bible assures us that God is present even when He seems far away! Even when God seems 1,000 miles away and uninterested in our affairs, He is with us step-by-step during difficult times.

A wonderful illustration of this unseen presence is described in (Luke 24:13-35 esp. vs. 15).

(Luke 24:13-35 NIV)  Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. {14} They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. {15} As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; {16} but they were kept from recognizing him. {17} He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. {18} One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” {19} “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. {20} The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; {21} but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. {22} In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning {23} but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. {24} Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” {25} He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! {26} Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” {27} And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. {28} As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. {29} But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. {30} When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. {31} Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. {32} They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” {33} They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together {34} and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” {35} Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

In this passage, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking toward a village called Emmaus.  They just came from Jerusalem and were undoubtedly very upset and depressed because they witnessed the crucifixion of their Lord Jesus.  They were not only discouraged because Jesus was dead, but also because it was the third day and they had hoped that Jesus would have been raised from the dead, as their Lord promised.

They must have given up hope on Jesus’ resurrection and decided to head home, back to their old way of life.  But as they were walking, something marvelous happened.

These men, who were most certainly experiencing emotional and spiritual pain because of Jesus’ death, did not know that Jesus was walking right along with them the whole time.  During their time of anguish, Jesus was next to their side.

If we are faithful, God is walking right along with us especially during our times of suffering, even when we feel isolated from Him.  He has not abandoned us, just like God didn’t abandon Jesus relationally on the cross.  We are His children and He loves us and cares for us.  We must realize that He is watching over us and is doing what is best for us.

(1 Pet. 5:7) tells us to cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  Does this sound like a God who cares little about our problems?


One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.  For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you the most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

When we suffer, we may feel isolated from God, but the reality is that God is with us step-by-step and many times He is carrying us through our difficult times…

How was Jesus able to withstand the agony of the cross?

(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. {2} Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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Posted by on July 4, 2022 in cross


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