A strange fear grips the silent crowd as the earth is enveloped in darkness. The only sound that can be heard is the occasional groan of the condemned. Suddenly, like a sharp clap of thunder, Jesus cries out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 26:46).
This is a cry of ultimate despair from the perfect Son of God, the One with whom God had uninterrupted communion from eternity past, the One who did everything according to His Father’s will. Now He has been forsaken. Why would a loving Father turn His back on his son, the one He called Beloved? The Prophet Isaiah tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (53:6).
When Jesus died on the cross, God placed upon His Son all the sins of those who would ever believe His promise. Paul tells us, “He has made Him to be sin, who knew no sin,” (2 Cor. 5:21). A holy God cannot look upon sin. Habakkuk explains as he speaks to God, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity” (1:13). God is so holy, so pure, and so righteous that He had to turn His back on His own Son. And Jesus willingly paid the penalty.
Jesus experienced the just judgement of God for our sin so that we wouldn’t have to, and He was forsaken by God that we might never be forsaken.
Inspired by the Sermon Notes of Pastor Gary Elliott