I have heard people give this explanation about God abandoning Jesus while on the cross because He was holy and could not look upon sin. That didn’t sound right to me because I’d like to think God looks upon me even if I have sin on me. I may separate myself from God when I sin, but God doesn’t separate himself from me. He is always with me. Anyway…here is what Larry Massa has to say about this title:
My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? (Mark 15:34)
I have heard several ministers give sermons explaining why Jesus made that statement. Most of them center on the Bible saying anyone hung on a tree is cursed. His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:23).
They continue with the thought even though Jesus never sinned, His curse was He sinned by hanging on a tree. Since God is pure and Holy, He had to temporarily leave Jesus because He could not be in Jesus, a sinner. That separation, they claim, caused Jesus to cry out.
Examine how incredibly incorrect such a course of logic this is. Jesus is God! The Holy Spirit is God! There is only One God (Deut. 6:4) It makes no sense to think God separated from Himself.
It is crucial to fully understand what God was doing with the crucifixion. As the Bible says, anyone who hangs on a tree is cursed. But, understand what the curse is:
For our sake He (God) made Christ to be sin who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Note, Jesus did NOT become a sinner. He became “sin”. Since He was sin (He took everyone’s sin on Himself); there was no separation from God. He only had to die. By dying, the just penalty for everyone’s transgressions was paid in full. People could now be again in full fellowship with God.
So, back to what Jesus said on the cross. Understand, in those days there were almost no books. Each synagogue had a few scrolls, but the general population did not have access to them. In order to teach people and have them internalize lessons from the scrolls, they memorized much, if not all, of the words and stories. Likely, the Psalms were the easiest to memorize because they were mostly songs.
Open your Bible to our most popular Psalm: number 23. Perhaps many of you have memorized it. Now read the Psalm preceding it; number 22. It is a song about a man dying during crucifixion. It begins:
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?...Seriously, read it all. The man speaks of people mocking him, his bones are out of his joints, his hands and feet are pierced, they cast lots for his clothing, etc. And it ends with “It is finished”.
Perhaps Jesus recited the entire Psalm, but even if He didn’t, all Jews standing around would instantly have it come to their minds. Jesus wasn’t railing at God for abandoning Him, He was giving a final sermon to the Jewish people. After rehearsing the song in their minds, they would naturally continue to the twenty-third Psalm and remember:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…(Psalm 23:4)
What Larry Massa has written here has a more logical meaning to it than what I’ve heard others say the meaning is to this statement of Jesus, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Read this and then you decide for yourselves what it means.
Sheila Wells Hughes, June 18, 2018