“At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'” (Matthew 27:46, NLT).
When we read through familiar verses we think we understand, do we ever stop to wonder, perhaps it doesn’t mean what I think it means? Yes, Princess Bride fans, I’ve been waiting to say that! Sometimes we dig deeper, but for the most part, I think many of us take verses like these for granted. Even though Jesus asked this question, did he really feel his Father had abandoned him?
Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 which begins with the question people have asked for centuries—where is God when I need him? The Jews who heard him say this knew the whole psalm, so they knew how it ended: with praises to God who has the power to save us from any trouble. When he quoted the prophetic psalm, he was showing them and us who he was and how they should read the scriptures—they all point to Jesus.
God didn’t turn his back on his son any more than a loving parent would turn away from a suffering child. Jesus took our sin, our fallen human nature, upon himself. But God isn’t so “pure” he couldn’t look at his son at that moment. The perfect God of the universe can handle sin and he loved his son every minute of his life on earth, including the last seconds of his life when he conquered sin and death.