"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
The Lord cried those words as He hung on that cross. But what does it all mean?
One explanation says Jesus quoted from Psalm 22:1 because He was drawing attention to that Messianic psalm's reference to Himself. (By the way, Psalm 22 is also considered a Messianic Psalm by early Rabbis and cited as such in their Midrash (AD 400-1200).
But the reason for the Lord’s cry goes, I think, far deeper.
First, consider St Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [the Father] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(We will come back to this in a moment).
And now Isaiah 53:5-6 “But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.” And at the end of that 53rd chapter, the prophet continued to tell us Messiah will bear our sins and our iniquities (verses 11 and 12).
To repeat: the prophecy states that the Father would place all of our guilt and sins on the Messiah.
And now Deuteronomy 21:22-23 “Now if a person has committed a sin carrying a sentence of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body is not to be left overnight on the tree, but you shall certainly bury him on the same day, for he who is hanged is cursed of God . . ..”
St Paul refers to this prophecy in his letter to the Galatian church “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree . . . .” (Galatians 3:13)
Did you get that? God said, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a TREE.”
So, why did St Paul (as well at the other NT writers) write ‘tree’ and not ‘cross’? Because the NT Greek word ‘xylon’ can be accurately understood as either wood, tree, or cross. See also Acts 5:30, 10:39, and 13:29. The Hebrew word used by Moses in that Deuteronomy passage (above) – ‘aytz’ is also accurately understood as either wood or tree.
Back to St Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians, and we need to get this critical point:
God made Jesus TO BE sin. Jesus became OUR sin. And we wonder why the holy, holy, holy Father turned His back on ‘SIN?
Ok, so why is all that important to you and me?
OH! Please hear this! When Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?” – at that moment the Father had turned His back on His only begotten Son when He BECAME our sin.
We cannot overstate that. Jesus BECAME our sin. (Again, please see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
And THAT means the Father will NEVER turn His back on the Christian because He already turned His back on Jesus who took our place, who took the Father’s wrath against sin when He bore our iniquities on that tree (cross).
Oh, thanks be to Jesus for what He has done for us.