“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.” As Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Reverting to his native Aramaic language, he quoted David’s familiar words from Psalm 22. He called on the distant “God” instead of his usual “Abba.”
Just the night before, in the garden, he poured out his heart to his daddy.
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36.)
Why those words, then, on the cross? Could it be that the son felt abandoned by his daddy? The close communion he had enjoyed for eternity with his father was broken, for the first time. I believe that separation hurt Jesus more than the intense physical suffering of the crucifixion and the betrayal of his close friends.
Listen to what other, more profound voices have to say on the matter:
“No theologian can adequately explain the nature of what took place within the Trinity on that day at Calvary. All we have is a cry of pain from a child who felt forsaken. Did it help that Jesus had anticipated that his mission on earth would include such a death? Did it help Isaac to know his father Abraham was just following orders when he tied him to the altar? What if no angel had appeared and Abraham had plunged a knife into the heart of his son, his only son whom he loved? What then? That is what happened on Calvary, and to the Son it felt like abandonment.”
~ Philip Yancey
“The ‘hiddenness’ of God perhaps presses most painfully on those who are in another way nearest to Him, and therefore God Himself, made man, will of all men be by God most forsaken.”
~ C.S. Lewis
Why doesn’t my own separation from God hurt me as much as it did Jesus? When I rebell against God, either openly choosing to sin or quietly putting my own needs first, shouldn’t I feel the excruciating effects of that so intensely that the cry of my heart becomes one for restoration? What about you?