This post is published at 3:00 in the afternoon on Good Friday EST because the Bible says:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46)
I have been planning on writing about Christ’s cry on the cross for this post since last Easter. Unfortunately, after all of my studying, I still cannot speak confidently about what His cry actually meant. As it turns out, this pleading question Christ asked from the cross is difficult to explain and contains a bit of a mystery for scholars, but I can’t get the cry of my Savior out of my mind this Easter.
What I currently understand to be true and theologically sound is this:
God the Son
We worship a God of Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was both 100% God and 100% man. This is a common agreement across Bible scholar commentaries and is considered theologically sound.
Therefore, when Jesus was on the cross, He remained the God the Son the entire time.
Jesus the Man
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? is neither pure Hebrew nor Syriac, but a mixture of both, called commonly “Syro-Chaldaic.” This was probably the language which the Savior commonly spoke as a man.
The words are taken from the prophetic words in Psalm 22:1: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from my words of groaning?
This was the first moment Jesus as man had broken fellowship with God the Father. No analogy is going to be perfect, but humanly speaking, imagine being an amazing child and your parents leave you nothing in their will. Nothing. They turn their backs.
Jesus must have felt incredibly abandoned.
Jesus, both God and man, had done everything right. Everything. Yet He was unjustly paying for the sins of the entire world – all sins committed in the past, present and future. We know he anguished in the garden of Gethsemane, asking God the Father that if possible, he not go to the cross (Luke 22:44 and Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:34) Hebrews 12:2 indicates he “despised the shame” of the cross. Shame of what, we are not told. Shame of the public humiliation and unjust taunts? Shame of being treated like a criminal when he wasn’t one?* Humanly speaking again, imagine being a perfect child and then one day your parents send you to prison for crimes committed by your cousin. They knowingly knew you were innocent and the cousin was the criminal, but you went to prison anyway.
Jesus must have been feeling the incredible unfairness of it all.
Jesus was expressing emotion like we would, but our emotions can be sinful. We can love what is detestable to the Lord, or hate that which is pure and good, but Christ’s emotions would not have been tainted by sin. ** His cry, therefore, did not interfere with him being a perfect sacrifice. He had never sinned (made possible because He was also fully the God the Son). Jesus was the only Person qualified to have his death count as payment for all sins, for all of mankind, for all of history.
I am so glad God the Son came to earth as a man so he could die for you and me.
I have been thinking about how often I have cried out in the same way Jesus did. I have cried out when feeling abandoned and unjustly treated a handful of times. Generally speaking, however, I have not cried out in agony in most instances when my relationship with God was suffering due to my own doing.
I don’t get it yet.
I have gotten better, but I don’t yet comprehend the stench of my sin that offends a holy God, as evidenced by the fact that I can still tolerate sin in my life. I don’t yet get that I was helpless and needed God’s rescue, which explains why I am not yet filled with undying gratitude every moment of every day. I don’t yet get the privilege of having the opportunity to live in close fellowship with the God who created the heavens and earth, which is why my heart doesn’t break every time God and I aren’t well connected.
The Son of God hung on the cross as a man for us today so He could pay for the sins of the world. He felt the full brunt of physical and emotional pain as he cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
Let’s spend today trying to get that.
Picture Explanation: The nation is quarantined this year for Easter celebrations, but our past celebrations remain safely in our memories and scrapbooks.
* The Bible references and related comments were added 4/11/2020 at 8:27 a.m.
**This sentence was re-written 4/10/2020 at 6:26 p.m. to communicate our emotions can be sinful (which had not been the original sentence).
For prior Good Friday posts, see HERE
© 2020 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.