In Matthew 27:45-46, it says, "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
I mean no offense, but sometimes I wonder if Jesus wished he'd said something else. But imagine his state-of-mind. He's been tortured, lashed, betrayed, humiliated and now hangs from nails on a cross. With whatever strength he has left, he manages to say a few sentences. He forgives, he speaks to his mother, and he fulfills the prophecies.
But the line, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" tends to raise doubt. If Jesus is God, why would he say something like that? If God is the Father, why has he abandoned his son at his most tortured physical state?
It comes back to Psalm 22. It's a bit of a long psalm, but worth reading because it describes feeling separated from God, while also acknowledging God is God. Confused? It's a little confusing but what we need to know is that Jesus was quoting this psalm.
Now there are multiple ways that people interpret psalm 22 and how Jesus intended his words to be understood:
- There's a thought that Jesus was separated from God at that time. Here's why : Jesus was literally taking on the sins of the entire world. Do you know how you get that bad gnawing feeling in your gut when you do something wrong? Well, imagine that amplified for infinity. That's the weight Jesus had on his shoulders. Sin, as we know, can not exist with God because God is perfect. Sin separates us from God, so there is a thought that this occurred while Jesus was on the cross. To recap : Jesus became embodied with sin, sin can't exist with God, Jesus was separated from God.
- There is a thought that psalm 22 prophesies the Messiah. Let's look at the psalm:
I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
This happens to Jesus. He is starved, dehydrated, pierced in the hands and feet, and they do cast lots for his garments. So this thought is that Jesus spoke those words to reintegrate that he is the Messiah, as predicted by the psalm.
All the prosperous of the earth Shall eat and worship; All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, That He has done this.
This talks about Jesus being the Messiah, but it's a more hopeful tone. It gives hope that no matter what, God is God and through Jesus, we'll spend eternity with him.
Let me just make a note about the idea of being separated from God. God doesn't leave us. He never stops loving. When we feel separated, it's not God who has changed but us. Jesus took the sins of the world on his shoulders. It's that sin that caused separation. Consider it like this :
Look out a glass window toward the sun. You can see it shining brightly and know that it's always there, even at night when we can't see it. Now say you never wash the window. Over time, that window will start to get dirty. A layer of dust will settle, and the sun will look less bright. Overtime, the window gets so dirty that the beautiful bright sunlight can no longer penetrate through the dirty layers. The sun's still there, but you were the one who prevented it from shining.
Jesus didn't say those words to make people doubt God. Maybe he was demonstrating what sin does. It blocks out the sunlight. But it's up to you to decide the meaning of his words. It's your choice, so what do you believe?