Did God Forsake Jesus?
- On this day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. In an ironic twist, we call this day when a perfect, innocent, and sinless man suffered one of the most brutal deaths ever recorded in history – Good Friday.
His death was more than good. His death was necessary and His death was life-giving to all who acknowledge that what Jesus suffered on the cross counted for us – that we need His forgiveness.
God did not abandon Jesus on the cross.
Some have struggled with the idea of a loving Father abandoning his son in the moment of his greatest need. Their question goes something like this: “How could God the Father turn His back on His Son? Isn’t that cruel – some sort of child abuse?”
Jesus willingly experienced the burden of our sin while on the cross.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God….” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
God is One revealed in Three Persons. They have never been divided. In fact, a few verses before this he reminds us that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ….” – 2 Corinthians 5:19
So what was happening on that first Good Friday when Jesus asked that haunting question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Psalm 22:1
The Jewish crowd around Jesus knew that when he said these words that He was quoting Psalm 22. Often in their culture, they memorized the Scriptures. The Psalm is like a song in their culture, so their minds would have taken them through the rest of the Psalm.
Jesus has endured so much. He is barely able to speak the first line of Psalm 22.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The people will remember. Those who do are now in awe. Jesus has lived out and suffered in the exact way that King David foretold the Messiah would suffer 1000 years before that very moment. Psalm 22 includes the following:
…But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him….”
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
It is important to remember that just because Jesus asked the question does not mean that God turned his back on Jesus. We turned our back on God, and Jesus stood in our place.
Near the end of Psalm 22 is the answer to Jesus’ question to the Father.
Why have you forsaken me?
The answer is God the Father did not forsake Jesus. He was with Him as He suffered on the Cross.
“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help…. those who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations…. future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” – Psalm 22:24-31
Jesus has done it!
By quoting Psalm 22 Jesus on the cross was reminding everyone who seeks to know if He is God and if He is the way, the truth, and the life that His message is for the ends of the earth, all families, all nations. His message of love will be told to future generations (that’s us) and to a people yet unborn (that’s those coming after us).
God does not forsake us in the midst of our shame and guilt and sin. He pursues us. Just as He pursued Adam and Eve after they ate from the tree. Just as He pursued the people of Israel time and time again.
Just because we feel for sake in does not mean it is true.
God pursues you and me.
He came into the midst of our brokenness to save us.
He died on the cross for you and for me.
He rose from the dead to give us hope. We have hope that we too can live empowered by the love of God, now and forever.