My God, My God, Why have You Abandoned Me?
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"Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani?" Which means “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me.”
Works spoken by Jesus in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
With every breath the skin from his palms ripped a little more. With every movement of anguish the thorns pierced His brow deeper. With every second blood and sweat dripped down every fiber of His skin.
He hung there on the cross, fully aware that every man-made object keeping Him there was in full submission to His authority. Yet He remained. He suffered because of a love we can never fully comprehend. He stayed on the cross for us!
Jesus knew this day was coming. He knew all He would bear for those He loved. He knew He had full authority to stop it, but He chose love instead. He chose us.
And with a crowd of witnesses full of those who hated Him (i.e the Pharisees) and those who loved Him He shouted out:
“My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”
Wait...what? Confusing, right? Why would God abandon His Son and why would Jesus want the world to hear those words?
These words hold much mystery, but they are connected to another Scripture that offers great clarity to the phrase.
Psalm 22 starts "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" It then goes on to paint pictures of the events of the crucifixion that was to come; the mockery Jesus would experience, His garments that would be divided, His enemies that would surround Him...but it ends with victory. Psalm 22:31 leaves us with "His [God’s] righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything He has done."
The phrase from Jesus found in Matthew and Mark is often explained as the moment where Jesus took on all the sins of man (past, present, and future) and experienced God’s wrath for us. It was at this moment He chose words that seem rather fitting, for I’m assuming taking on all of the sins of the world was pretty unpleasant and may have even led Jesus (who was both fully man and fully God) to feel as if God had abandoned Him. However, I would like to propose an additional purpose for Jesus’ statement.
As Jesus hung on the cross, the Pharisees and religious leaders stood by and watched their plan become a reality until Jesus spoke My God, My God, why have you abandoned me. That phrase would have made their hearts drop into their stomachs.
The Pharisees knew Psalm 22 well, for they would have sung those words out of memory to those they led and taught. Hearing the beginning of that Psalm would have immediately caused their minds to recite and sing the rest of it and as they did, line by line their plan would unravel as God’s plan was revealed.
Jesus’ outcry was just as much one of suffering as it was victory! Yes, death was upon Jesus, but He knew resurrection day was coming. He would stay on the cross so we could inherit the victory of His empty tomb!
1. Read Psalm 22 in its entirety. Underline, circle, and highlight what stands out to you. What do you think the pharisees and religious leaders thought when they heard Jesus start this Psalm.
2. In our suffering do we also cry out in victory knowing God remains good and faithful even in trials? If not, how can we suffer better and praise God even in the storms of life?
Lord, thank You for the cross! Thank You for taking on my sins so I could experience victory through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for sharing Your victory with me. Father, as I experience suffering in this life remind me to suffer better. To count my suffering as a joy because it points me back to the cross. Allow my times of suffering to shape me more into Your likeness. Lord, help me to be all You have made me to be. I am Yours!
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