“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
At twelve o’clock on the Friday that Christ was crucified, a threatening darkness spread over the country. It lasted for three hours. Then the frightening stillness was broken by the loud cry, in which our Saviour voiced all the agony and pain of His tormented body and soul: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
It was a cry for help. This is clear from Psalm 22 wherein David called upon the LORD for deliverance. He was surrounded by enemies who mocked him and sought his death. In Christ Jesus, hanging on the cross, David’s word and situation found their fulfillment. For Jesus was surrounded by enemies. They had crucified Him. In their eyes He was a worm and not a man, despised and scorned.
But worst of all was that God had become an enemy for Him. God had forsaken Him. Jesus knew this. The cross and the darkness were the signs of it. God had taken the light, which He had created on the first day, away from Him. For Him God was no refuge.
We can never comprehend this wonder of God’s wrath against Christ in His love for us, sinners. We can only adore Him for it with great gratitude. How was it possible that God the Father forsook His innocent Servant, Jesus? However, He did so for the sake of His chosen people of all ages, who may enjoy, forever, the restored covenant communion with their God and Father through faith in Christ.
Christ Jesus not only gave full satisfaction to the justice of God in bearing the curse of the covenant, but He also paid to God the perfect love and obedience which we owed to the LORD. Being forsaken by God in hell, Christ did not forsake His God. In His agony He spoke: “My God, My God.” With these words He declared: My God, I do not leave Thee. I still love Thee. I can and will only live in Thy communion.
The first Adam, in paradise, rebelled against God. The second Adam, in hell, forsaken by God, remained faithful to His God. In this obedient love He fulfilled all the righteousness of the divine law, all the Scriptures.
Our Mediator spoke this word not only to God, but He spoke also for us that we might believe in Him and know that He paid everything for us in our place. In His agony He loved His God with all His heart.
He loved His congregation, too. For her He suffered. Psalm 22 says: “From Thee comes my praise in the great congregation.” “From Thee”.
God did deliver David’s Son because of His obedience. After the three hours of anguish the light returned. God came back to His Servant, being pleased with His perfect righteousness. Christ could say with a shout of joy: “It is finished”, so that now His congregation can sing her song of praise.
“To Him Who sits upon the throne
The God Whom we adore
And to the Lamb that once was slain
Be glory evermore.”
By Prof. J. Geertsema in Lasting Food – A Book for Daily Family Worship, Premier Printing, Winnipeg, 1975, p. 373.