My God my God, why have you forsaken me?

FAITH & REFLECTION -- Jesus made 7 statements from the cross. The first three dealt with the needs of others.

FAITH & REFLECTION –Jesus made 7 statements from the cross. The first three dealt with the needs of others. He requested forgiveness for offenders, assured a dying criminal of salvation and provided for His mother’s future needs. Jesus’ fourth and fifth statements addressed His own suffering and are found in Matthew 27 and John 19.

Reversing the order, Jesus’ fifth statement was, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst” (John 19:28). He had spent a horrible evening being prosecuted, received horrific beatings and had now hung on a torturous cross for 3 hours. He had good reason to be thirsty. Some cheap wine was offered to Him fulfilling Psalm 69:21.

The fourth utterance addresses the Lord’s spiritual suffering. “Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” meaning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45,46). One needs to understand the Bible’s teaching about salvation in order to understand, not just the nature of the pain Christ suffered, but its breadth and depth. It is this pain that Jesus prayed about in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking if it might be possible for “this cup” to be removed from Him.

This pain, was not the anguish of crucifixion, nor the injury of human rejection. It was the pain of separation from God. Sin always separates…husbands from wives, parents from children, friend from friend, employer from employee, people from possessions, etc. However, in this case, sin separated Jesus from God…not partially, but fully.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says that “God made Jesus, who had no sin to be sin for us…” And 1 Peter 2:24 adds that Jesus “…bore our sins in His body on the cross.” These passages, respectively explain that Jesus did this so that “we might become the righteousness of God “and “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

God (in a manner that I will always be curious about, but never fully comprehend) placed upon Jesus the sins of the world. It was incumbent upon Him, by virtue of His holy nature, to turn His back upon His Son, who had now become sin. The intensity of the sudden and bilateral presence of sin and total absence of God was devastating. Consequently, Jesus, now in immeasurable spiritual agony and pain, cried out the rhetorical question that He already knew the answer to. “My God, why have you forsaken me?” I believe that Jesus’ physical suffering paled in comparison to the spiritual anguish of being separated from God.

Jesus’ suffering was unearned, unparalleled, unattended, unrepeated…and I fear to a significant degree, unnoticed…even unappreciated.