Matthew 27:46 – About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” NIV
This is the last question of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. He has accepted the Father’s plan and will and is hanging on the cross to atone for the sins of humanity. He asks this question which is the first line of Psalm 22. Many if not most commentators make a point of saying that because Jesus is bearing the sins of the world His Holy Father cannot look upon all of that sin and for the moment that sin separates them. I have a problem with at least part that interpretation. The Father has been with Jesus all the way, and Jesus has submitted to the Father’s will and plan.
I believe that Jesus is beginning to quote a prophetic psalm of David that He doesn’t have the physical strength to finish but so aptly describes His situation and gives credit to God’s plan. Here is the complete psalm:
Psalm 22 – A psalm of David.
22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him — may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him — those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn — for he has done it. NIV
Jesus was certainly in pain and feeling separated from the Father, and He began to quote this psalm. If one goes through this psalm, it starts out with a feeling of separation because of all the things that are happening. It pleads for rescue…salvation. It admonishes people to revere Yahweh (22:23) and in verse 24 comes to the conclusion that Yahweh has not hidden His face from him, but has listened to His cry for help.
The last line of the psalm declares that the plan of God is accomplished. Just as Jesus last words recorded by John (19:30) are: “It is finished!” (completed). That’s my take because God promised Joshua that He would not forsake him (Joshua 1:5) as he carried out God’s plan. Jesus promise us that He would be with us always until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
Is God there even when I don’t feel His presence or am overwhelmed by my circumstances? I believe that He is. His love never fails. According to Paul nothing can separate us from “the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 8:37-39)