As he was dying on the cross, Jesus cried out My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why? Why was Jesus forsaken by God?
After making a very careful investigation, Dr. Luke reports in chapter 23 of his gospel that Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent on at least 3 different occasions. In v. 22 Pilate says, “…I have found in him no guilt deserving death.” If Jesus was innocent, why was he condemned, forsaken and executed?
The answer is found in the writings of an Old Testament prophet named Isaiah who lived over 700 years before Jesus was born.
Isaiah 53.4-6 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus was forsaken for us! It was for our griefs and sorrows that Jesus was stricken, smitten and afflicted by God. It was if all our sins were gathered up and placed into a huge basket. Sins of selfishness, pride, self-interest, greed, lust, impatience, bitterness, anger, discontentment, together with all the sins of God’s people: murder, stealing, adultery, idolatry, coveting, lying, Sabbath breaking… all of them. And then all that filth was poured out on Jesus’ head. His holy Father could not stand to look at him; because of our sin, he banished Jesus from his presence.
Consider 1 Peter 2.24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Jesus was forsaken for us. By his suffering we received forgiveness. Jesus paid the penalty that we should have to pay for our sins. Jesus took our punishment. He was our substitute.
2 Corinthians 5.21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This is the real horror of the cross; it is also the great wonder of the gospel. Jesus Christ, God’s own Son was forsaken for sinners like us. Jesus stood trial for us before the tribunal of God. There is nothing more dreadful than for a sinner to stand before a holy God as the Judge. Jesus stood before God for us bearing our sin; he was doomed to ruin. Jesus was forsaken by his Father for us.
Because of our sin Jesus cried out, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
Hebrews 4:16 encourages us: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus was forsaken so that we would never be forsaken. We have no fear of rejection before the throne of God! As we enter into this solemn day of prayer and fasting, we have every confidence of finding mercy and help in time of need.