On the Cross: Was Jesus forsaken by God?

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On the crucifixion Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34: Was Jesus forsaken by God the Father? And/or did Jesus think he had been forsaken by His Father? 

There are some Christian theologians who argue that Jesus doubted in God as he hung from the Cross on Gol’gotha. But, was that truly what happened to the Son of God? And/or did Jesus this he may have been forsaken by His Father?

Let’s take a look… (Note: Psalm numbers are listed according to the Protestant version of the Bible, not the Douay-Rheims.)

1) Beatific Vision: Jesus was and is always in sight of God.  He never required either faith or charity because He was with God at the very beginning (Revelation 19:13, John 1:1, Luke 10:18); Jesus definitely suffered pain and agony throughout the Passion, but He knew that He was never alone (John 8:55, John 10:30, John 16:32). Ludwig Ott – “Christ’s soul possessed it in this world (in statu viae), and indeed, from the very moment of its union with the Divine Person of the Word, that is, from the Conception…He could not possess the theological virtues of faith and hope.”

  • Revelation 19:13 – “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”
  • John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
  • Luke 10:18 – “He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
  • John 8:55 – “Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.”
  • John 10:30 – “I and the Father are one.”
  • John 16:32 – “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”

2) God does not turn away from anyone, most especially Jesus; and Jesus would have known this. Only through sin can we individually separate ourselves from God. And because sin is a willful, voluntary turning away from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), not the other way around; and Jesus would know this fact, teach it definitively, and live with God as a perfect, divine man. Additionally, Psalm 22:24 shows us explicitly that God never turned away from Jesus because He never would do such a thing to any of us. (Psalm 94:14, Romans 11:2)

  • Isaiah 59:1-2 – “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
  • Psalm 22:24 – “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
  • Psalm 94:14 – “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.”
  • Romans 11:2 – “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel:”

3) Jesus never doubted God’s presence. He definitely suffered in pain & agony during the passion; but, He never doubted God who He alone had seen face to face. God cannot take back vision & understanding that He has already given (or whatever else is God’s). Even though we humans have never seen God, Jesus had seen God and required no faith or hope for what He knew to be truth. (Romans 11:29, John 10:30, John 16:32);

  • Romans 11:29 – “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.”
  • John 10:30 – “I and the Father are one.”
  • John 16:32 – “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”

4) At any point in time either God or Jesus had the full power to stop the suffering; but, both chose not to do so because of what the pure sacrifice (based on God’s promise) would mean to beloved mankind. (Matt 26:53, John 10:17-18)

  • Matthew 26:53 – “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
  • John 10:17-18 – “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

5) We see throughout the Gospels, and most notably the entire passion, that Jesus is under full control of His words.  He utters words with purpose, never random outbursts. Jesus silently takes His trial and scourging without complaint or errant word. (Mark 15:5, 1 Peter 2:22-23)

  • Mark 15:5 – “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.”
  • 1 Peter 2:22-23 – “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

6) Jesus, of one mind with the Father, begins his final moments by rallying the faithful and learned Jews on the mount at Calvary. Jews knew by heart Psalm 22, 23, & 24.  After so much suffering and defeat, He rally’s them with the introduction to Psalm 22:2 (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34) and signifies the end of the ordeal (victory) by saying the closing verse to Psalm 22:31 with his words recorded in John 19:30.

  • Psalm 22:31 – “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”

Summary: So, beyond the victory message of Psalm 22, the only literal translation of the word “forsaken” that can be taken from the context of the scriptures (assuming Jesus does not commit the sin of despair on the cross) is as a personal expression of Jesus where He expresses openly the notion that no physical comfort was to be given to Him in His time of suffering, even though Jesus knew full well that God was still with Him, always.  This where the context of Mark 14:36 shows us that while Jesus suffered, He had no doubt whatsoever that God was still there executing His divine will.

Mark 14:36 – “Abba (Daddy), Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

God love you all!

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