Why Did Jesus Cry, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me”?

Why did Jesus cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” quoting Psalm 22:1 (Matt 27:46)? Some have thought that Jesus’s words for God forsaking him implied that Jesus went to Hell. However, Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that day (Luke 23:43). The idea of Jesus going to Hell is from an old misleading translation of Acts 2:27. However, the Greek word is Hades, which is the place of the dead. Furthermore, the Greek for “forsaken” in Matthew 27:46 is also in Acts 2:27 for God leaving Jesus’s soul in Hades — not Hell. That is a separate event than God forsaking by having left Jesus to experience death on the cross.

Why God Forsook Jesus on the Cross

Jesus did express these words on the cross just before his death. God left Jesus because Jesus bore humanity’s sin to die and conquer sin. God allowed Jesus to die; although, he never sinned (2 Cor 5:21). God left Jesus in the way that God separates from each person who sins — not that anyone can escape the presence of God’s Spirit (Psa 139:7–12). This also does not mean that Jesus was somehow no longer God in the flesh. A hostile mind, harden heart, and doing evil separates people from eternal life with God (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21). In this sense, Jesus who knew no sin was made sin to become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus became the righteousness of God not by becoming righteous because Jesus was already righteous. The work for righteousness contains the lengthened Greek stem and root word for justification (Rom 3:21–26). Jesus became the righteousness of God in making others right with God, which is justification. Jesus’s death justified all those believe in Jesus the Christ (Rom 3:26).

Jesus overcame separation of sin with God and thereby accomplished reunion of God with humanity. This reunion is reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18–21). Jesus’s quoting of Psalm 22:1 that God has left him represents the separation that sin caused. Sin alienates sinners from God hence the need for reconciliation (Isa 59:2; Eph 4:18; Col 1:21). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and thus all earn death (Rom 3:23; 5:12; 6:23). That death is condemnation (Rom 5:16, 18). Furthermore, physical death is a separation of the spirit and body, and spiritual death is the separation of man from God. This is eternal destruction away from the presence of God (2 Thess 1:7–9).

How Atonement Caused Reconciliation

Jesus took the punishment that was not due to him to overcome the death that is due to all people (Rom 5:12, 16, 18). Jesus bridged or bypassed death unto life again. Death could not hold Jesus because He is sinless (Acts 2:24). Jesus conquered spiritual and bodily death (1 Cor 15:53–57). Therefore, Jesus rose bodily and so will the just rise like him on the last day (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:20–23, 53; Phil 3:20–21; 1 John 3:1–2; cf. Dan 12:2; John 5:28–29).

God will require the lifeblood of each person because sin is contrary to God’s image (Gen 9:4–6; Rom 3:19–20). All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Furthermore, God gave blood for atonement, the appeasement of justice (Lev 17:11–14). Jesus was sinless and he did not profane the image of God (2 Cor 4:4; Heb 1:3). Therefore, his blood is able to appease the law and the just wrath for breaking that God’s law by his willingness to lay down his life.

Jesus’s blood brought atonement, forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation with God. Paul revealed,

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Rom 5:6–11 ESV)

Salvation in Jesus’s Death, Burial, and Resurrection

The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4). This is the Gospel that saves those who hold to the message. The apostle Paul revealed the death, burial, and resurrection in the life of a believer. Paul reported,

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Col 2:12–13).

This is the Gospel that is the power of God for salvation. Paul also observed,

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Rom 6:3–6)

True faith is obedient faith (Rom 1:5; 2:6–11; 16:26). God will only save those who obey the Gospel (2 Thess 1:7–9; 1 Pet 4:17).

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christian, Christianity, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Why Did Jesus Cry, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me”?

  1. ozanark says:

    Mr. Shifferd:

    Since the wages of sin is spiritual separation, or spiritual death, from God, it would have to follow that Jesus committed some kind of sin if it is true that the Son really were separated from the Father (Romans 6:23). Jesus could not have meant this when He quoted Psalm 22:1 — so it must mean something else.

    I believe Jesus quoted the first verse of Psalm 22, in part, to get the people crucifying Him to think about what they were doing — that they were fulfilling the prophecy in the chapter. God didn’t forsake David when he wrote Psalm 22, although it felt like He did at the time. Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross (Matt.26:39), yet He completely obeyed the Father’s will despite His feelings. The Savior was wrestling with the same emotions that all righteous people feel when persecuted.

    John 16:32 is talking about the hour when Jesus would be crucified; but His words “the Father is with me” indicates the Father never left the Savior. Man may separate himself from God, but there is no evidence in Scripture that God will ever leave those who are obedient to His will (John 8:29; Heb. 13:5). I see no Scriptural reason to assume such happened to the One who never sinned at all (2 Cor. 5:21).


    • However, Jesus died; although, he did not sin. Jesus’s spirit left his body to go to God. Jesus bore our sins on the cross. Only in the sense that Jesus bore the sins of the many that there was separation between Christ and God the Father.


      • ozanark says:

        If you mean He died physically as a consequence of man’s sin, then I agree with you. But I do not believe He was ever forsaken, or spiritually separated, from the Father because of our sins. Jesus bore the consequences of man’s sin through physical and mental suffering not only on the cross, but also when He crucified His desires daily before that hour of suffering (Matt 16:24; Col. 3:5-6).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rudy J Schellekens says:

    I strongly disagree with your statement, “God left Jesus because Jesus bore the punishment of sin; although, Jesus never sinned…”
    My reasoning…
    1. John 3:16 – God so loved the world…
    2. Romans 5 – While we were yet sinners
    3. Revelation 5 – Before the foundation of the world
    4. Job 1, 2 – Satan in the immediate presence of God
    5. Exodus – God in the camp DAILY
    6. Psalm 23 – Same cry from the heart of David – and as the Psalmist says later, he was wrong

    And many, many other passages which go against your conclusion.

    I would gladly spend some more time in discussing this with you (and other readers), so let me know if you are willing to do so, open, with respect for other opinions, without name-calling and ascribing motivations.


    • I do not know what you mean by any of your points.

      Why are you attributing a closed-mind, disrespect, name-calling, and condescension to me? You cross these lines just by such an accusation. I think you have this website confused with another.


      • Rudy J Schellekens says:

        Not in the least! Just making others (who might want to jump in) that this discussion should not be dragged down, period!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Okay. All is well. You addressed me and thought for moment that I was going crazy.

          You do not have to respond to any harsh comments. I will even mute such comments as you or anyone requests. However, I think allowing such speech makes the case for your sincerity.


          • Rudy J Schellekens says:

            I don’t mind people disagreeing with me (or you, or anyone else). I strongly dislike, however, the tone some of the readers have assumed in past comments. And as the whole world knows, civility seems to have gone down the drain, even in political speech.
            Anonymity seems to make some thing loose in people, where they feel they can use whatever derogatory language they want. And it happens even among believers (as the death of quite a few conversation groups can attest to).
            To all: Argue with me, please. But do not a) ridicule, 2) belittle, 3) assume attitudes and more such negative issues. Do not refer to the opinions of others as “ridiculous, childish, and such terms.
            I disagree with Scott on some things – but I will never accuse him of unchristian thoughts or behavior. I appreciate the fact that he allows discussions on this site where he might not agree with the conclusions shared. But surely, those who share their faith in the Risen Christ should be able to have decent conversations!

            Liked by 1 person

      • Rudy J Schellekens says:

        What I mean…
        Let me start with the Exodus. You know that God “remembered” His people after their presence in Egypt for about 400 years. He makes arrangements to take His people to the land He promised Abraham. As the nation finally is led out of the land, God makes sure the people know He is indeed with them. The meetings Moses has with God – Did God turn His back on Moses, even though he was a sinner? Moses has the ultimate privilege to be in the very presence of God, to such an extent that he had to cover his face, because the glow of the glory of God was too much for the nation to behold.
        God’s presence was in the middle of the camp – filled with sinners. God traveled with the nation – of nothing but sinners. If God could be in the presence of Israel (all sinners) why would God turn His face away from His Son?

        let me continue with Job. In the introduction we read that the “One day the angels (or sons of God) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them….” And from there the conversation goes on. Then, in the second chapter, we see the same, “On another day the angels (or sons of God) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
        If Satan could come in the presence of God, why then would God turn away from His only Son?

        Now we come to John 3. Deity became humanity (1:1, 1:14). Or, in Paul’s words, “He emptied Himself…” He divested Himself from being equal with God (His NATURE). All the glory He had before the incarnation He left behind (John 17). Not only that, but He laid down His life (Voluntary, no one made Him do that). He died, a death on the cross p not in His sleep, not accidental, but through one of the most cruel means men had devised in His time on earth.
        After such, God would leave His own Son alone?

        I will share some thoughts on Psalm 23 later…


        • I still do not know what you mean. Sin separates the sinner from God (Isa 59:2; Eph 4:18; Col 1:21).


          • Rudy J Schellekens says:

            Let’s try this:

            Was God in Israel’s presence during the Exodus?
            Was Satan in God’s presence in Job?
            Did God leave David?

            If you answer, “yes” to these questions, you have created a different environment for the statement of Jesus at the cross. An environment which leaves the cross intact, and, more important, leaves the consistency of God intact.

            Will discuss Psalm 23 later in the day.


            • The separation of sin between God and man does not compromise God’s omnipresence. While no one can escape God’s Spirit, David prayed that God not take His Spirit from David because of David’s sin (Psa 51; 139).

              For practicality, one could look at God’s presence in the sense of distance. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (Jas 4:8). How can this be true when God is omnipresent? The difference is simply the separation and alienation that sin causes between God’s providential blessings and man’s willingness to faithfully obey God.

              God is always present, but He is closer to those who believe in Christ and have received God’s forgiveness. There is no sin separating the forgiven from God.


            • Rudy J Schellekens says:

              “There is no sin separating the forgiven from God” Will God listen to the prayers of someone who does not forgive? Will God forgive one who does not forgive?

              I noticed that you did not answer the questions asked. So, let me deal with some of the passages you quoted to prove your point.

              Isaiah 59
              Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
              nor his ear too dull to hear.
              2 But your iniquities have separated
              you from your God;
              your sins have hidden his face from you,
              so that he will not hear.
              3 For your hands are stained with blood,
              your fingers with guilt.
              Your lips have spoken falsely,
              and your tongue mutters wicked things.
              4 No one calls for justice;
              no one pleads a case with integrity.
              They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
              they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

              Note that it is not God who departed:
              YOUR iniquities have separated you from God – not: God has removed himself from your presence because of your sins
              Your sins have hidden his face from you – not: He has hidden his face from you because of your sins

              They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts…

              it is their ignorance which stops them from being able to see God – not: God has hidden himself from you

              Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel

              It is “their minds’ that created the enmity – not: God hid himself from you, removed himself from you and made you His enemies

              I love the phrase, “But now he has reconciled you…” He, the INJURED (emphasis, not shouting!) party, reached out to those very sinners YOU (Emphasis, no shout) said He cannot be near, and restored the tie between Creator and created

              So, if this God, who reaches out to those who had hid themselves from Him because of their sin, ignorance and evil is so concerned about that restoration, that reconciliation, then according to you, turns His face away from His OWN Son, would that not be terribly out of character?

              And when David, in Psalm 23 uses that statement, he KNEW that he was wrong with that phrase! As you see the flow of the Psalm, where he “repents” (in the sense of, changes his mind)…


    • God left Jesus in the sense that God leaves and separates from sinners. Sin alienates/separates man from God (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21).


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