Why on the cross did Jesus cry “My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?” I realize that Jesus was human as well and I’m sure he felt the enormous pain but he knew all along what and how things were to happen in order to do God’s will and fulfill the scriptures but why would he yell out “Why Have you Forsaken/Abandoned Me?” Why would he EVER feel abandoned by the Father?
It is important to reaffirm the humanity of Jesus when considering his Passion. Jesus knew this was God’s will. He had predicted it himself many times (Matthew 16:21) and each time he also emphasized that there would be resurrection. He knew the victory that was to come, and even while he was on the cross he acknowledged to the other criminal that before the end of that day they would be together in paradise (Luke 23:43). So clearly Jesus knew the plan.
But even though Jesus knew the plan, he still prayed to God the night before his death for God to “please take this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). And we shouldn’t be surprised at that. You can imagine the emotional turmoil that Jesus physical anguish that he was about to endure. The question remains though, would Jesus have really thought that God would abandon him, and would God truly abandon his own Son.
The answer is… yes. That is precisely what happened to Jesus on the cross, he was abandoned by God. After all, isn’t that what death really is? We like to say brave words like “death is just another part of life” but is it really?
Actually, when God created the world, Death was not a part of his original design. Instead death became the punishment that was instituted for the world when Sin entered into it, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It was only after the Fall of humans that God said “from dust you were taken and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). You may recall in Genesis Chapter 3 when God killed an animal to make clothes for Adam and Eve. The death of that animal at the hands of God represents the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, and in the very next chapter we see the death of the first human, Adam’s son Abel.
Death is not something to be romanticized or made light of with pat sayings and trite expressions. Though we often try to comfort each other in those ways. At funerals you may hear several people saying things like “God just wanted to take her early so that she could be with Him.” Sounds nice and sweet, but it’s not true. If that were the case then she would have gotten scooped up while she was still alive like Enoch in Genesis Chapter 5. Death isn’t God bringing us to be with him. Death is his a means of separating unholy us from holy God. It is a clean separation between God and those who have chosen to do their own will instead of his (that’s everyone btw). So yes, in a very real way, death is God abandoning us. Therefore when Christ died, he was experiencing the abandonment of God. You can count on the fact that for Jesus, who was closer to God then anyone else, this was more painful then crucifixion itself. Fortunately, all of this comes with a very big BUT.
BUT resurrection. Death may be the punishment for sin BUT resurrection follows death. God broke the power of death by raising Jesus from the dead (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus is the firstfruits of this resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20), that means there are many more resurrections to come.
I think that one of the greatest fears that people have is not death itself, but abandonment and aloneness. Likewise, one of our greatest longings is for intimacy. The reality is that death brings with it the fear of ultimate loneliness, ultimate abandonment, ultimate severing of intimacy. BUT thanks be to God there is resurrection. This is THE GREAT HOPE of our faith.
But even though Jesus knew God’s plan for resurrection the pain of being abandoned to death by his own heavenly Father must have been excruciating. Thus he cried out in a loud voice. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me ?” (Matthew 27:46).
Not only was this a shear cry of pain and emotion, but it was Jesus being scholarly to the very end. He spoke the words in Hebrew, not in the common tongue of Greek, or his native tongue of Aramaic. He spoke in Hebrew from the Hebrew scriptures. These exact words are from Psalm 22, a Psalm written by King David. I encourage you to read this psalm, the words powerfully capture what Jesus must have been feeling on the cross. He knew scripture better than anyone, so he shouted out the first lines of one of the most wretched sounding psalms he knew. He did this in an effort to convey exactly how he was feeling… abandoned, alone, forsaken to the point of death…
Now we can live in the confidence of knowing that resurrection is on the other side of death. We don’t have to fear abandonment or loneliness because Jesus broke the power of Sin, death, and the devil. His cry of anguish is our cry of liberation.
If this post raises questions for you about heaven, after life, etc. just ask.