My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me

Bible Book: Matthew  27 : 45-50
Subject: Statements From The Cross; Cross; Easter; Salvation
Series: Sayings of Jesus from the Cross

My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Matthew 27:45-50

Ben Haden tells the story of a group of four-year-old children who were gathered in a Sunday School class in Chattanooga. The teacher looked at the class and asked: "What special day was last Sunday?" A little four-year-old girl held up her hand and said, "Last Sunday was Palm Sunday." The teacher exclaimed, “That's fantastic, that's wonderful. Now, does anyone know what today is called?” The same little girl held up her hand and said, “Yes, today is Easter Sunday.” Once again the teacher said, “That's fantastic. Now, does anyone know why we celebrate Easter?” The same little girl responded and said, “We celebrate Easter because Jesus rose from the grave," and before the teacher could congratulate her, she kept on talking and said, “but if he sees his shadow, he has to go back in for seven weeks.”

It's not easy for small children to keep the Easter story straight, especially when so many other things get attached to it. Some people treat Easter like another Christmas, at least in the way they say that the Easter bunny brings gifts for the children. The sacred and the secular are often mixed and swirled together until a holy day becomes nothing more than a holiday for many people.

In order to be sure that we understand the biblical meaning of Easter, we continue our look at the cross on which Jesus gave Himself for sinners - sinners like us. Today we are concentrating upon another utterance of Jesus from the cross.

The scripture tells us that darkness had settled over the earth about midday and continued for three hours. It was at three o'clock in the afternoon that Jesus spoke the words we are considering today. The crowd had grown weary of mocking Jesus. The darkness had quieted the crowd since they could see almost nothing. Some scholars believe that it was just like midnight at midday as Jesus hung upon the cross. So the crowd had settled down to wait for the dying men to pass away.

Out of the darkness came a cry from our Lord that no doubt created an eerie moment, especially hearing His words coming forth out of the black atmosphere of darkness. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Charles Spurgeon said that anyone hearing the voice of Jesus say those words that day could never forget what they heard. He felt the cry of Christ from the cross from out of the darkness would serve to haunt a person the rest of his or her life.

We cannot hear His voice speak these words, but as best we can let us go back there to consider what He said in the darkness that day and what it means to our hearts today. Jesus was covered by darkness, suffering under the weight of our sins, enclosed in a storm of pain and loneliness, yet He died there on the cross for us.

I. These Are Words of Inspiration

Jesus is speaking here from the Old Testament, so He is actually quoting an Old Testament passage. Turn to Psalm 22:1.

This Psalm was composed at a time when crucifixion was not even used to put people to death. Yet, there is a passage here which describes the manner in which Jesus died. This is truly one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible.

Jesus spoke purposely that day. The 22nd, 23rd and 24th Psalms form a triad of tremendous truth. They speak of three great divisions in the life and work of our Lord.

  • Psalm 22 speaks of His life, rejection, death and resurrection.
  • Psalm 23 speaks of His leadership as the Great Shepherd of those who trust Him as Savior and Lord.
  • Psalm 24 speaks of His Lordship and of the time when He will take us to live with Him in heaven.

So, Jesus was quoting this passage purposely, for He knew the reason for His death.

What did Christ do when He felt deserted? He turned to the Word. Just as He did when He was tempted by Satan in the Wilderness, He now turns to the Word of God for strength and convey truth to everyone who will hear.

You and I can learn a great lesson from this. What do we do when we see no light and find no answer? We turn to the Word of God and trust what He has said there. When life makes no sense, we find wisdom in God's Word. Open your Bible on a dark day, you will always find some light there!

"For if thine eye of faith be dim,
Still hold to Jesus, sink or swim;
Still at his footstool bow the knee
And Israel's God thy strength shall be."

What do the words Jesus quoted that day actually speak of? First …

II. These are Words of Separation

Martin Luther thought on this passage for a long time, then said, “God forsaken by God, who can understand that?” Indeed, who can grasp it? Jesus forsaken of His Father. As far as we can tell, this is the only question Jesus ever asked of the Heavenly Father. Yet, even in the question, Jesus is revealing His faith in the purposes of His Heavenly Father.

Note that He calls Him God. Even when He feels totally desertedby His Father, He does not waver nor hurl an accusation at Him.

Note also that He calls Him “My God”. How personal this is! He does not waver in His sense of the personal relationship He has with His Father - even if it be broken at that moment.

He does not waver in believing that God has a purpose in all this. It is as if He is saying, "My God, for what purpose you are forsaking me!" It is an interesting Greek arrangement of the words.

Nonetheless, this is a dark moment in the soul of Christ, not just in the skies around Jerusalem. You see, there is a silence from Heaven.

  • When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke.
  • After Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the desert and was tempted by the devil, the angels came and ministered unto Him.
  • After He had prayed till sweat drops as blood fell from His brow in the Garden of Gethsemane, the angels came and ministered unto Him.
  • But now, no one answers Him now.

Why no answer to Jesus from the cross? Heaven does not answer Jesus because He is identifying with you and with me.  He is becoming sin – He is bearing our sin. The question why, is a human question. God never has to ask why! But Jesus is God, yet He is asking why! He is becoming one with us! He is identifying with us. Jesus became so much one with us that He, like you, could ask the question Why. Jesus took all the questions of anguish of the world and wrapped it up in that one question. Why?

  • When Jesus was falsely tried, He spoke not a word.
  • When He was beaten with the cat-o-nine-tails, He never uttered a word.
  • When they pressed the crown of thorns into His brow, He never said a word.
  • When they nailed His hands to the cross, He spoke nothing.
  • Now, however, He speaks - He actually cries out from the cross.

He had not reached the pinnacle of suffering until His Father forsook Him! The pinnacle of suffering was His abandonment by the Father. When God turned His back on Jesus, our Lord cried out. He had reached the pinnacle. He had been forsaken by His own family. He had been forsaken by His disciples. He had not been forsaken by His Father until this moment on the cross. Now, His Father turns His back on Him, and this is more than Jesus could take. He cried out, “My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

III. These are Words of Education

In the words of Jesus upon the cross, we go to a higher sphere of learning. Here we enter the seminary of heaven.

A. He Teaches Us about Seriousness of Sin

Here we see that Jesus was made sin for us. He was tempted in all points like us, but He never sinned. Yet, the Lord took on Him the iniquity of us all! This alone explains why the Father would turn His back on His own Son!

In Psalm 22:3 the Scripture says, “Thou art holy.”

In Habakkuk 1:13 the Bible declares, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.”

In Isaiah 59:2 we read, “Your iniquities have separated you between you and your God.”

God is too pure to look upon sin. In the moment when Jesus was made sin, the Father could not look upon His Son.

B. He Teaches Us about Substitution for Sin

Here is how much Jesus sacrificed for you. In the Old Testament we see the scapegoat. The sin would be pronounced on the scapegoat and he would be led out into the wilderness. The priest would return saying, “Your sins are gone, gone, gone!”

These words of Jesus on the cross reveal that God has placed on Jesus the sins of the world. He is the “scapegoat” of all who will believe upon Him. He carries the sins away with Him in His suffering and death on the cross.

C. He Teaches Us about Condemnation, Suffering for Sin

The greatest statement in the Bible regards the love of God. Yet, we must view the wrath of God honestly. The clearest demonstration of the wrath of God is seen at Calvary when God allowed His own Son to die in your place and mine. Do you believe that God would condemn His own Son to die for you, allow you to reject Him and then spare you in the judgment? He spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us. The only way to avoid the judgment is to accept the Son of God who suffering judgment for us.

IV. These are Words of Dedication

The first three times Jesus spoke was for others. When He multiplied the fishes and the loaves, it was for others. He would not turn stones into bread when He was hungry, but He multiplied the fish and loaves for others. Always, Jesus thought of others.

Many years ago William Booth, the head of the Salvation Army, wanted to send a message to all his workers. But such a message would cost a great deal of money. So he sent a telegram to encourage them that contained only one word. The one word he sent them was, “OTHERS.” That is the word of the Christian, “Others!”

Look not every man to his own things but to the things of others.

"Yes, others, let this my motto be,
Let me live for others Lord, that I may live like thee."

Would Jesus hold on in the darkness? Yes, His faith held on.

He said, “My God.” He held on to His faith in the Father. He was saying, "My God, you have forsaken me, but I know you are still my Father, my God!” We must have that kind of faith.

  • He held on because of His dedication to His Father
  • He held on because of His dedication to His mission
  • He held on because of His dedication to You and to Me

Two thousand years ago Jesus left heaven to come to this earth to seek and to save that which is lost. He came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Bethlehem was not the end of the path.

At the Temple was not the end of the path.

Healing, teaching, blessing, that was not the end of the path.

Even when he had suffered insults, sorrows, false trials, and was nailed to the cross, still He had not reached the end of the path.

To reach the lost sheep of Luke 15, He had to go on. Finally, He came to the end of the path, He came to the place where being forsaken by his Father was reality. That is where the sinner is. Jesus went to that place to reach that lost sheep! That was His path.

V. These Can Be Words of Invitation

The Lord is calling those who have never trusted Jesus to believe upon Him today. He died for your sins, and for mine. The greatest day of my life was when I trusted Him to be my Savior. It sealed my eternity and gave me life and that more abundant and full. He paid a great price for you. The songwriter wrote:

“But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,
Ere He found the sheep that was lost!”

God forsook Jesus that you might not ever be forsaken.

Jesus was placed in the darkness of sin at Calvary so that you might live in the light.

God could not look upon Jesus on the cross so He could look favorably on you today.

There is hope for the sinner because Jesus died in your place. It is only available now – in this life. Now is the time to come to Him. This is the day of salvation.

Come to Jesus and know that He will never forsake you. In Hebrews 13:5 says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." What is your response to that kind of love?

Let go of every excuse. Come to Him now!

Bessie Kennedy writes:

"According to reports, as much as $558 million in World War II bonds were never redeemed. Issued between May 1941 and October 1947, the bonds ceased to earn interest 40 years after the purchase date.

"Don't you wonder why those valuable bonds were never redeemed? Were they lost? Destroyed? Put away and forgotten? Inherited by heirs who were ignorant of their worth? We can only guess.

"A right relationship with God is the valuable bond that God has secured for every human being. It can be redeemed at full value. Sin separated us from God, but the redemption price was paid by the blood of Christ when He died on the cross." [Open Windows, Oct-Dec 1995. Oct 23.]

I can say to you today, don’t let the bond Jesus purchased for you lapse. He will redeem it for you right now. Come to Him today.