From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Psalm 22:1, 14-15
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 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. 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.
In the middle of the day, darkness descends upon the land, as the curse for sin is laid upon Jesus (Galatians 3:13), as the Lord lays our iniquities on him (Isaiah 53:6). “If you want to know what God really thinks about sin and what he intends to do about it, look at Jesus, rejected on the cross and listen to Jesus, forsaken on the cross.” (Philip Graham Ryken) Is it any wonder that Jesus previously asked the Father that he might not have to drink this cup? Hearing this cry of Jesus, can we not hear the immensity, depth, and guilt of sin? As Jesus’ heart was torn by the Father forsaking him, the Father’s heart was torn by having to forsake his Son on behalf of sinners.
This is the only time that Jesus addresses the Father as “God” rather than “Father”. Is he already feeling, sensing, experiencing separation from the Father? In this most anguished cry of pain, a pain none of us will or could ever know, how can we even begin to understand what is happening here? “Here we are the spectators of a wonder, the praise and glory of which eternity will not exhaust. It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God.” (John Murray)
The Father did not spare even his own beloved Son. But because Jesus was forsaken by the Father for our sin, we will never be forsaken by the Father. How great is the love the Father and the Son have for sinners! Let us bow down and worship them with hearts overflowing with love and gratitude!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut His glories in
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature’s sin (Isaac Watts)
Hark, that cry that peals aloud
Upward thro’ the whelming cloud!
Thou, the Father’s only Son,
Thou, his own Anointed One,
Thou dost ask him–can it be?
“Why hast thou forsaken me?” (John Ellerton)