Why did God Forsake Jesus on the cross? If Jesus was the Son of God, how could the Father abandon him? Why at this precise moment? Wouldn’t this sentence be the denial of the divinity of Christ?
Through these few words, which are much more than a simple plea, Jesus teaches us both about the greatness of his sacrifice but also about the impact of sin on our relationship with God.
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
A phrase Present in the Old Testament.
Jesus was not the first to utter this phrase. We can find it in Psalms 22:1. In this verse, King David addresses God because he has the feeling of being abandoned by Him. It was indeed the case. God had withdrawn from David’s face because the latter had sinned by committing murder and then adultery ( 2 Samuel 12:9 ). We know that the Old Testament is a “shadow of things to come,” that is to say, that it announces in a symbolic way what will happen, especially in the New Testament.
So, we can think that “Father, why have you forsaken me?” of David is the “shadow” or the announcement of this same sentence, which will be pronounced by Jesus much later on the cross.
Based on David’s situation, we can understand the reasons for this plea of Jesus. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “No, the hand of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But it is your crimes that separate you from your God; It is your sins that hide his face from you and prevent him from listening to you”.
If God had “abandoned” David, it was because of his sins. For Jesus, the same pattern repeated itself.
It was the sins that “separated” him from the Father. Do not immediately cry scandal and heresy! We all agree that Jesus never committed a single fault. So how could sin separate him from the Father?
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Was Jesus a sinner?
Jesus was (and remains) “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He came to bear the sins of all mankind. Therefore, we must imagine that on the cross, Jesus was responsible for the sins of the whole earth, which makes an incalculable number of sins! Being thus charged with all the world’s defilements, the Father who remains thrice-holy could not bear the vision. It is then said that He looked away from His Son.
There was a kind of “break” between the Father and the Son on the cross. Besides, Jesus does not say “Father Father, but “Eli, Eli” translated by “God.” Jesus was perfect, and He never sinned, but it was our sins that He carried on the cross that separated Him from the Father.
What a sacrifice!
This passage allows us to realize the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice. By becoming a man, Jesus agreed to leave his heaven of light and holiness to come into darkness and evil.
But on top of that, He accepted for a moment that the Father turns his gaze away from Him, He who lived in the Father and in whom the Father loved from eternity!
Imagine for a moment the distress of Christ. Being abandoned by men is surmountable, but being abandoned by God is the worst thing that can happen. That moment on the cross must have been one of the worst in Jesus’ entire life.
Therefore, this verse is rich in meaning. The Father saw his Son on the cross. He could have saved him, contrary to what some Pharisees claimed. But Jesus had chosen to bend to His will and suffer on this cross for us.
Sin separates us from God.
You will have understood: sin is not a trivial act. It is fraught with consequences once we let it into our lives. If sin could “separate” for a moment God the Father and his Son Jesus, then imagine when it is we who sin… God is Holy, and darkness abhors him. The Father even had to look away, seeing Jesus take on the world’s sins. This reflects the level of holiness that He expects of us! When we sin, we are separated from the Lord and sadden the heart of the Father. So, let us learn to resist temptations and not bend to the desires of the flesh. Sin takes us away from God, but Sanctification brings us closer!