Locations of visitors to this page
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me
Scripture: Matthew 27:45-50; Matthew 27:41-46; Luke...
Track 4 of in the series
Running time: 47 minutes, 36 seconds.
This statement from the cross is probably one of the hardest statement to understand in all of the Bible. For Christians to wrestle with the concept of the Holy Trinity, God being three but yet one God, the concept and reality of God forsaking Jesus in his greatest hour of need is really hard to comprehend. But when we look at the two places in the Gospels when Jesus cries out this statement, it is important to know in what tone Jesus did it and what it was he was really saying.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Death on a Friday Afternoon
The Fourth Word: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This statement from the cross is probably one of the hardest statement to understand in all of the Bible. For Christians to wrestle with the concept of the Holy Trinity, God being three but yet one God, the concept and reality of God forsaking Jesus in his greatest hour of need is really hard to comprehend. But when we look at the two places in the Gospels when Jesus cries out this statement, it is important to know in what tone Jesus did it and what it was he was really saying.

The cry is a cry of dereliction, the cry of abandonment, from the derelict, the abandoned one. The cry is reported by both Mark and Matthew. The Greek suggests that he screamed with a loud cry. The reader is left with the sense that something had gone horribly wrong. It was not suppose to be this way. Luke’s account tells us that he cried out with a loud voice but it didn’t tell us what it was Jesus said. John’s account the ending strikes a different note. It is almost tranquil, a going to sleep after accomplishing the great work he had been sent to do.

Matthew 27:45-50 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

It is here that Jesus is using Old Testament scripture once said by David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

I used the word dereliction to describe the scene we see here with Jesus’ cry. What does dereliction mean and does it fit here? The derelict is one who is abandoned, cast aside. It is like a ship that is abandoned at sea. There is no longer any worth.

This expression is one denoting intense suffering. It has been difficult to understand in what sense Jesus was “forsaken by God.” It is certain that God approved his work. It is certain that he was innocent. He had done nothing to forfeit the favor of God. As his own Son—holy, harmless, undefiled, and obedient—God still loved him. In either of these senses God could not have forsaken him.

Why say this now? Did God really leave Jesus by himself to face this horrible time by himself? You and I depend on God to be there for us even when we think we are going through trials and temptations alone. Many times God reminds us that he carries us in those lonely times. Why would we think God would abandon Jesus at that point in his life? To help answer this question, it is very important to note what is recorded right before Jesus cries out to God.

Matthew 27:41-46 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

According to Matthew’s account, what actually were they mocking Jesus about? A high priest who designs to destroy the temple of God: a Savior who saves not himself; and the Son of God crucified: these are the contradictions which give offense to Jews. The mocking was Jesus as the Messiah.

But what was Jesus feeling at this moment. What was going on that maybe all who stood at the cross didn’t see? These words are no doubt words expressed during a moment of intense suffering and pressure. Jesus said as they came to take him away in the garden that now was the time when all his enemies would come together and try to destroy him.

Luke 22:52-53 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

In all four Gospels, the mockery at the cross comes threefold. In fact, all through this story things happen to Jesus in threes. In Gethsemane Jesus prays three times and three times comes back to find his disciples sleeping. Peter denies Jesus three times. Then there are the mockeries at the end of Jesus life which match the three temptations by Satan at the beginning of his ministry. If you remember, Satan prefaced his temptations with, ‘If you are the Son of God…”. And now at this moment while Jesus is hanging on the cross, there is this echo again from Satan asking the same thing. Is it possible that Satan is winning? Rose on the third day.

Matthew 27:39-40 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

What is really important to note here at this moment as also back when Satan first tempted Jesus, Jesus could have done all that Satan questioned. There is no question Jesus could have changed the stones to bread and there is no question that Jesus could have gotten down from the cross. But that is not the point. By Jesus staying on the cross and dying the way he did, by remaining on the cross to the death does Jesus prove that he is indeed is the Son of God.

It is at this point all that Jesus said about how he and God are one comes into play. There are no doubt the priests and the scribes were rubbed the wrong way every time Jesus spoke those words. But where is your God now Jesus? If you both were so close, why doesn’t he come and rescue you? That had to be hard stuff for Jesus to endure especially when it was true.

Imagine what is going on in Jesus mind and heart at this specific moment in his life? What was he thinking and what was he feeling?

What is interesting to me is none of the Gospel writers tell us what Jesus was feeling. They only let us know the details. They don’t go into the direction of emotion or feelings. They leave vast spaces to be filled in by our imagination. The Gospel writers do this for a reason; it gives us an opportunity to enter into the sufferings of Jesus ourselves. That is why I think the movie Passions was so powerful. Mel Gibson filled in those emotional spaces fro us and allowed us to feel in a small way the emotions that had to be present during that day.

Did Jesus at the moment he cried out really think that God had abandoned him?

Mark 15:38-39 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Notice how Mark follows up the cry by Jesus with an affirmation. If we answer yes to the question, we would seem to be denying his divinity. How could the one who is true God and true man be abandoned by God? The very idea would seem to split apart the two natures of the one who is Jesus Christ. These are very difficult ideas and thoughts to comprehend. How all this works I am very foggy on. I don’t contend to fully understand it.

The concept about God dying really goes beyond any comprehension man has. How can a being that has no beginning and no end actually die? However this question is answered, what is real is the sufferings Jesus experienced and the horror of the moment that would cause him to cry out. In John’s account of the cross, John makes sure his readers understand that Jesus is in control. He laid down his life; his life was not taken from him. But there also is a point when it is obvious that the man Jesus is not in control, God is in control and the man Jesus submits and obeys.

In Jesus cry to God, in all that Jesus did on the cross, there was something missing, something missing that had always been there when Jesus showed his surrender to the will of the father. What is missing and why is it missing here at the cross?

Matthew 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 17:1-5 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

At Golgotha, heaven is silent. The Gospel writers record that there was darkness at his death. The Temple curtain was torn in two and the dead arose and walked from their graves. But the important thing here is there was no answer from the One Jesus was calling to. There was only silence.

Paul writes to us a very important fact about Jesus and what the cross meant to Jesus and God.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Not too far from verse 13 Paul write a great truth about the Christian life that is so closely tied into what Jesus did on the cross. Paul writes:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

On the cross, Jesus knew he was in the line of the Old Testament prophets, and his disciples are called to stand in the same line. He told them then and he tells us today,

Matthew 5:11-2; 24:9 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

As we live to be like Jesus, the same evil and darkness that worked to snuff out Jesus ministry, work and life is working to do the same to us. As we become more like him and seek to win the lost as he did, there will be powers around us that will work hard against us. But if we remain faithful to Him who saved us while on the cross, he will help us in the hour of our greatest need.