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?" (Matthew 27:46)
All of us experience loneliness at times; but how very dark things are when we feel, not just lonely, but desolate – utterly abandoned by everyone. That’s how Jesus felt on the cross; so abandoned that He cried out in the words of our opening verse.
These words had such an impact on his followers that the very Aramaic phrase He used was remembered. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing! Jesus, Who had taught them so much about trusting God as Father, was now asking why that Father had abandoned Him! His cry was from the opening words of Psalm 22, a prayer written by David a thousand years earlier. "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?" the psalm begins (verse 1). It goes on to express, in amazing detail, so much of what Jesus experienced on that first Good Friday. "All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads" (v. 7); "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint" (v. 14); "dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing" (vv. 16-18). What amazing prophecy this was!
But when Jesus recited these words, it was not merely as poetic language; some graphic way of describing how very alone He felt. It expressed the reality of his abandonment by the Father. For as "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24), the Father turned away from His beloved Son, unable to look upon the sin that He was carrying.
This was the ultimate abandonment! And Jesus embraced it for us, so that we might never be abandoned again. What a Savior! And what a Father who, on Easter Sunday, kept His promises and raised His Son from the dead!
"[Jesus] was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life." (Acts 2:31-32)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont