“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 (ESV).
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Those terrifying words occur in two Gospels — Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 — as Jesus is hanging on the cross near death. It says, “About the ninth hours Jesus called out with a loud voice.” That alone is amazing. How did he have any strength to do it with a loud voice: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”or “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
So, why did He say it? The answer to the why was that He was forsaken. Habakkuk declared of God, “But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil….” (Habakkuk 1:13). God turned His back when Jesus was on the cross because He could not look upon sin, even perhaps especially His own Son. Just as Jesus said, God the Father had forsaken Him. He is bearing our sin and our judgment. The judgment was poured on Him rather than us. Jesus chose to be separated from the Father so we might be reunited with God through Him. Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven. Nothing can change that. Not your circumstances. Not your suffering. And not your sin.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is somewhat of a rhetorical question in that Jesus was not looking for an answer. Jesus isn’t curious, wondering how this is going to turn out. He knew how it would turn out. Jesus knew what He was doing, what would happen to Him, and why He was doing it. His Father had sent Him for this very purpose. And He came knowing all of this lay ahead. John 18:4 says, “Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.” He gave Himself up. He knew it was coming. He knew everything.
These words reveal the extent of God’s love for you and me. God continues to demonstrate His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Not the nails but His wondrous love for each of us kept Jesus on the cross. Revelation 1:5, “and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
God’s love is a powerful force, more comprehensive than any chasm between enemies, waiting longer than you would ever run from it, going deeper than you would ever fall from it, lifting you higher than you could ever go without it. And the good news is that this love is for all people.
- How is Jesus’ death an act of love?
- What is the best way to respond to God’s love?
- What does this third word teach us about Jesus?