One of the most difficult passages of Scripture is the saying of Jesus from the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The gospel writer Matthew recorded this penetrating and poignant question (Matthew 27:46).
Though Matthew does not give the reason for this “cry of dereliction,” the context and the Scripture give us a basic understanding of what this means.
I see three reasons why Jesus asked this powerful question.
First, Jesus simply quoted Scripture. Psalm 22 begins with this same question. When you read this Psalm you see amazing parallels with the crucifixion of Jesus. Along with Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 looks forward to the work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus filled Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 full of meaning – – he “fulfilled” Scripture.
You would naturally expect the Son of God to quote the Word of God.
Second, Matthew emphasizes the price Jesus paid on the cross. Neither Matthew nor the other Gospel writers emphasize the physical agony of Christ on the cross. Many preachers and many Bible students seem to only look at the physical suffering. Matthew, to the contrary, focused on the spiritual agony of Christ.
When Jesus cried out these words he was showing us the battle for humanity that He fought on the cross for you and me. The words of the apostle Paul were being acted out on the cross: “He who had no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So, in Matthew’s depiction the question, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” shows the willingness of Jesus to take our sin upon Himself to become the once for all sacrifice for the sin of the world.
Third, Matthew used this question to point to the victory that is in Christ. Psalm 22 ends in victory. So does the cross event, but Matthew and others couldn’t see the victory until resurrection morning.
Therefore, this question points us to the hope that is in Christ our Lord.
Like all Scripture, this passage is filled with meaning, power, and hope. Because of His work on our behalf we have hope, joy, and blessing.
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