How do I respond to a Sunday School member who says she does not believe that God turned his back to Jesus on the cross? I did mention that he said “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Hello @jlacross, to a degree you both are right. Since Jesus is part of the trinity the Father can’t separate from him or turn his back on him in the sense that he did something wrong. But because Jesus took our sins upon himself there is a distance I believe his humanity felt from the Father because of that. We have to remember that God can’t have sin in his presence since he is Holy. For most, it’s hard to know exactly what Jesus meant when he said it or what he was feeling at the time, but we can get somewhat of an understanding. Since he was on the cross we can only imagine what he in his humanity felt while suffering. One thing to also remember as well is that Jesus was quoting scripture when he asked this question to God out loud.
1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away.
You can read the chapter from the link above. But as you can see here Jesus had a purpose in what he was saying. A Messianic purpose. Here are some other links to previous conversations that you might wanna look into and other related articles for deeper learning. I hope this helped some.
@jlacross Great question and great response by @Luna What we have to remember is that Jesus was quoting the first line of a Psalm, so to understand what He meant we have to understand the Psalm itself. Psalms 22-24 are all Messianic Psalms—the suffering servant (Psalms 22), the Good Shepherd (Psalms 23), and the Triumphant King (Psalms 24)—and some commentators that when Jesus quoted Psalms 22:1 He was actually expecting His hearers to remember all three of these Psalms.
Like the Gospels as a whole, these three Psalms anticipate the suffering of the Messiah, God as the Good Shepherd, and the King who is victorious. Jesus, like the person depicted in Psalms 22, suffered unjustly and, like Psalms 24, rose as the triumphant King—victorious over death and hell. Just as the Gospel writers remind us that Jesus is King by remembering how King of the Jews was put above His cross in multiple languages, Jesus crying out Psalms 22:1 also reminds us that He is the suffering servant and Messianic King who trusted that God would deliver Him from His enemies.
We can see that Jesus, like Psalms 22-24, predicted His suffering and His exaltation throughout the Gospels: Mark 8:31, Mark 9:9-10, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:34, Mark 14:28
Mark 9:9-10 - As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
Mark 14:28 - But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.
But this does not mean He has abandoned the Son in the sense of taking His presence away
from him. The picture of God as turning His back to the Son is not biblical.
God is with His Son, but He is not intervening to stop the crucifixion.15 The
triune God is present at the crucifixion. The cross is not an experience for
Jesus alone. The cross is possible because the triune God is there. The cry of
Jesus at the cross is the cry of the person of Psalm 22, the messianic righteous
sufferer, who in the midst of extreme mistreatment claims His innocence
and asks God to vindicate Him.
Jill, Luna, Sean I have a different take on this to a degree. The responces are excellent and I have much respect and agree with you. I dont desire to bring up what all was posted. But just add to it all and get your opinion about what I see.
May I just share in Mathew 27:40 His cry the key word being “forsaken” for Jesus being that completed sacrificial offering for sin.
After reading, and looking, at all that was posted checking references I looked at.
We know that types and shadows abound in the old Testament in regards to Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
I see the added part that Christ was forsaken as the scapegoat was in Lev. 16. forsaken in carrying all the sins of Israel out into the widerness.
Just me speculating but we know that many were present who knew this aspect.
He did not come to abolish the law but to ultimatley fulfill it. Yes God is holy and cannot look on sin, but His words may have been for the crowd to hear that He was taking away thier sins never to be seen again.
I genuinely desire your thoughts.
@mgaplus4 Interesting thoughts Since I do not think the reference to Psalms 22 implies that Jesus was in any way forsaken, the next place I would look for a more clear statement would be the writings of Paul. Paul clearly said Jesus became sin (2 Cor 5:21) for us and that Jesus became a curse for us, since He was hung on a tree. Paul never says explicitly that Jesus was forsaken.
We could explore the idea of becoming sin and what exactly that implies. Did Jesus’ becoming sin for us necessitate that God look away? Honestly, at that point I think we are outside of our domain of knowledge and it start to becomes opinion rather than something that is clearly stated in the Word.
Yes, Sean, that’s what I am concluding too; that it’s a matter of opinion. It’s also interesting that this forsaken statement only appears in two of the gospels - it’s not in Luke or John. But I know the 4 gospels are not identical. It’s just that I believe I was taught (years ago) that The Father had to turn his back on Jesus because He could not look upon sin. And I thought most everyone agreed with that. I was surprised to hear your answers. I found statements from the comments section by Dr David Jeremiah and from commentary I have by Dr Vernon Mcgee that The Father did turn His back. Dr Jeremiah says ”Jesus was totally alone, abandoned by friends and now separated from the Father, becoming sin for us.” And Dr Mcgee said ”When my sin is put upon Jesus, God has to withdraw.”
Thank you all for your responses!! I love that I have a place to go for Biblical questions!
Jill, Sean how can I better convey what I am trying to say?
Thanks for responding to my question. I too was taught this and it makes sense. Commentators Teachers, preachers agree this is the reason for Jesus to say what He said.
I think this further validates my point below.
Perhaps I did not articulate well enough how the law, sacrifices were a type, shadow of what Jesus did.
Which to me both scapegoats were forsaken both outside the camp, both took on all our sins both carried away our sins, never to be seen again.
@jlacross A lot of people connect the idea of Jesus’ being forsaken on the cross with substitutionary atonement, but I don’t think substitution implies that Jesus was forsaken. Yes, it is a very common opinion that Jesus was forsaken.
Christ grant you wisdom
@mgaplus4 I think I understand what you were saying. I personally was taught the same thing but the more I started to understand the trinity the more I started to think about how can a part of the trinity be forsaken. It’s more so in the realm of opinion like everyone else has said. Mine is that Jesus in his humanity possibly felt distance from God in his suffering like any of us would and do at times.
But thats as far as I go with it. lol
Luna, thank you, I agree, also since we have no idea if it was Jesus the Man or Jesus the God that spoke those words. Only God knows but once we are there it wont really matter.