Jesus was on the cross for six hours at this point. It was about 3pm (the ninth hour of the day). Up to this point, we have seen a great bit of detail about the physical side of Jesus’ crucifixion. In this fourth statement, we are now fully introduced to the deeper anguish pressing down on the Savior.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Fully God – Fully Human
- The suffering was very real, it was more than a feeling. However, it is difficult for us to understand. Jesus who had always been with the Father for all eternity is now feeling separation with God.
- He had all power and was without sin being fully God.
- But, with our full humanity, he bore the weight of our sin and punishment under the intense pressure of cross and the shame and reproach. He suffered our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional pains.
- Jesus was not speaking random words. Nothing He said or did was with waster breath. We find this statement in Psalm 22 and a deeper reading here finds many similarities to what Jesus was experiencing. I will highlight some of the easier ones to see.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord‘s: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
- We so much messianic prophecy being fulfilled from this Psalm in the crucifixion of Jesus. I believe it also helps us see what is happening.
- When Jesus went through the temptation in the wilderness and the intensity of the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Angels came to minister to Him and restore His strength (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43). Help was always near.
- Jesus cries out on the cross, and from the content of Psalm 22, speaks of desperation for God’s presence and help. However, on the cross, it was not there. Why?
Christ became Sin, who knew no sin.
- Christ was not forsaken from communion with God. He did not cease to be the second person of the triune God. Even Psalm 22 shows a still confident faith in who God is and trust in His character.
- The sinless Son of God who had been, from all eternity, in an intimate relationship with His Father, is now spiritually separated from Him as we are when sin is present in us. When the sins of the world were put upon Jesus there was, for the first time, a separation between the Father and the Son. The Bible records something happened between them that we can only understand through the eye of faith.
- That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).
- The Father was placing the sins of the world upon the Son in order that everything in the universe that had been affected by sin could again be made right with God. Jesus was suffering the pain and separation that we deserve:
- For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- In order for this to occur, the Father had to forsake the Son and allow our punishment to fall on Christ as our substitute.
- At this time, Jesus is standing not before God as Father (abba), but God (el) the righteous judge of sin.
- May we grow in greater appreciation of Christ giving His life for us.
- Christ was forsaken so we can have confidence before God in saying, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).