Continuing along Holy Week with Good Friday, which of course is Christ’s death on the cross.
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
This is one of the more confusing statements that Jesus makes and it is one of his last ones made alive (before the resurrection). How can God forsake himself? If Jesus is Lord and fully in control of the events (as displayed throughout the week), how can he question the result?
First of all, I’ll say up front that I don’t know the definitive answers to these questions, but I’ll offer some theories.
Once again, he’s quoting the scriptures, and in particular Psalms here. Psalm 22 begins
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer ; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted ; They trusted and You delivered them.
You can see that the author does have faith in the Lord. He spends the rest of the Psalm talking about his plight and pleading with the Lord to deliver him from it. So in the context you can see that the question “why have you forsaken me?” is more of an emotional response than it is an actual question. I think that sheds some light on the full weight of suffering that the man-God endured on the cross. It wasn’t just the physical pain, it was an overwhelming sadness and mental anguish.
Note also that Psalm 22 is an incredible foretelling of the suffering of Christ.
I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint ; My heart is like wax ; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws ; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
That is not from the Gospels, that is from Psalm 22, written long before Christ. I think I read somewhere that it was written long before the Romans invented the method of crucifixion. Just an amazing example that all of this was part of the plan from the very beginning.
So in truth, Jesus wasn’t wondering why this was happening. He was actually showing us that he knew exactly why it was happening and how much it pained him to feel the full weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders.