Did God Forsake Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: MATTHEW 27-28

“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?'” – Matthew 27:46

Most people read these words of Jesus from the cross and say, “Yes, God forsook Jesus.”

Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that God forsook Jesus? Do you really believe that God left Jesus for dead?

If you really believe that God forsook Jesus, then why would you ever worship God? How could you ever worship a father that forsook his son, left him for dead, abandoned him, at the most critical moment of his life?

The answer is that you could not worship a father that forsook his son in the most critical moment of his life.

If you really believe that God forsook Jesus, his only begotten son, then how could you ever trust God not to abandon you?

The answer is that you could never fully trust a God who forsook his only begotten son.

We must remember that these words of Jesus are a question. Jesus asks, “Why have you forsaken me?” It’s a question, not a statement of fact. Jesus did not say, “God has forsaken me.”

Have you ever asked a question and received an answer to your question that proved you were wrong?

Of course you have.

Jesus asked, “Why have you forsaken me?” But, the answer came back from his Father had not forsaken him.

How do we know this was the answer from God to Jesus? How do we know God told Jesus that he was not forsaking him?

We could read Psalm 22, which Jesus is quoting when he asks why God has forsaken him. The question is the first verse of the psalm. But, the entirety of the psalm answers the question negatively. The answer to the question “Why have you forsaken me?” is “No, you have not forsaken me.” Just read the psalm.

But, there’s another way to know that God did not forsake Jesus.

In Matthew (and Mark), “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are the only words that Jesus speaks from the cross. But, Luke and John both record additional things that Jesus said while he was on the cross.

Let’s focus on what Luke has Jesus saying.

Luke does not record Jesus’ question, “Why have you forsaken me?” But, the words of Jesus that Luke records prove that Jesus was not forsaken.

Luke 23:34 says, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I find it unlikely that Jesus would ask the Father to forgive his enemies for crucifying him if he had been forsaken by God. For, if Jesus had been forsaken by God, then from whence would have he have drawn to utter those words?

Luke 23:43 says, “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” Jesus said this to one of the robbers he was crucified with. Jesus’ real question was, “God why have forsaken me to the land of the dead?” The tense of the Greek verb forsaken in Jesus’ question indicates that the action of forsaking need not be a singular moment in time but that the action of forsaking could be over a period of time and just stated as a singular moment of time. And, ultimately, being forsaken by God would be to be left for dead in the land of the dead, Hades.

Jesus tells the robber that he can join Jesus in paradise that very day. If Jesus was forsaken by God, then would he consider where he was going that very day to be paradise? I highly doubt it.

But, Jesus’ last words from the cross in Luke are the most important. Luke 23:46 says, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit!'”

Would Jesus say he is commending his spirit into the hands of his father if his father had forsaken him?

No way.

In fact, these words of Jesus reveal that God had answered Jesus’ question, “Why have you forsaken me?” And, God’s answer was “I have not forsaken you.” Therefore, Jesus put his spirit in the Father’s hands. He trusted the Father to deliver him from death. Jesus knew that he was not forsaken.

There’s an interesting verse in Hebrews that reveals this. Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”

Do you see what that is saying?

When was Jesus in his flesh?

Before he was crucified and resurrected. For after he was resurrected, he had a glorified body not a fleshly body.

So, in his flesh, on the cross, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications.

What was that prayer?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

He offered up his prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears. We just read that Luke said, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!'” We know that this declaration from Jesus comes after Jesus’ question, “Why have you forsaken me?” We know this because after Jesus’ question in Matthew, Matthew 27:50 says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”

Jesus yielded his spirit to his father, he laid down his life, because he knew his father would not forsake him to the land of the dead. As Hebrews 5:7 says, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications “to him who was able to save him from death.”

Jesus was willing and able to yield up his spirit because he knew his father would save him from death. Jesus knew he had not been forsaken.

Hebrews 5:7 says that Jesus “was heard because of his reverence.”

Therefore, Jesus was not irreverent and lacking faith to ask his father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It’s not irreverent to ask the question. This is exactly what we see in Psalm 22. The psalmist asked the same question as Jesus. But, the remainder of the psalm is filled with words of trusting in and fearing (in awe) God.

Jesus’ prayer was answered.

His father would save him from death.

God did not forsake Jesus.

What Would You Have Been Thinking the Night of the Crucifixion?

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 22-27

You’re a Jew in Jerusalem for the Passover. Or, perhaps you are one of the priests, scribes, or Pharisees that live in the city. Perhaps your name is John. Maybe, even, you are Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, “the teacher of Israel.”

On Thursday evening, the 14th of Nisan around 3 to 5 p.m., you slayed your lamb in preparation for the Passover meal. Then, early Friday evening, the 15th of Nisan, you sit down in your house with your family to eat the sacred meal.

But, you can’t get something out of your mind. There was a man crucified the day before. He was a famous, many would say notorious, man. This man had claimed to be the son of God.

You probably don’t realize it yet, but He was crucified the 14th of Nisan at 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34), which is the same time that you killed your passover lamb.

Perhaps you do remember the time because it was at that very hour, the ninth hour, the hour the Passover lamb was to be killed, that he cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Just moments later that famous, many would say notorious man, “cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.” (Matthew 27:50)

Ever since, those words – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – have been ringing in your mind.

Why can’t you shake those words?

You could the temple, or wherever you could, to find the scroll of the Psalms. You find those words – “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

And you keep reading.

“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find not rest.”

You say to yourself that this man who claimed to be the son of God did not get an answer from God while he was on that cross.

And you keep reading.

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

You think to yourself that surely this man wasn’t calling the God that forsook him holy. Yes, our fathers were rescued this night out of Egypt. But, this man? He’s dead and in the grave. God didn’t rescue him from the Roman cross.

And you keep reading.

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me.”

You remember the day before when the Roman soldiers mocked this man who claimed to be the son of God. They put a crown of thorns on his head and gave him a reed for a scepter. What a pitiful sight. Truly, this man was a worm, not even man.

And you keep reading.

“They make mouths at me; they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

You remember people yelling at this man to take himself down from the cross and prove that he was the son of God. But, this man said nothing in response. He just took their insults.

And you keep reading.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”

You remember the soldier pierced this man in the side and water and blood gushed out, almost like his heart melted. And, you remember that just before the man died he said, “I thirst.”

How is this man’s death so similar to this psalm?

And you keep reading.

“They have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Now you are thinking this is really strange. The soldiers had to pierce his hands and feet to nail that man to the cross. Yet, when you took him down and prepared him to be buried, you could tell none of his bones had been broken.

And, didn’t those soldiers really divide his garments by casting lots?

And you keep reading.

And you keep thinking how this man’s death paralleled this psalm.

And you wonder how it all worked out by the end of this psalm, but this man that was crucified, whose death mirrored this psalm, is just dead in the grave.

What would you have been thinking?