Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

7 Last Sayings on the CROSS series – 4


  Text:   Ps. 22:1-19; Matt. 27:41-50 (45-46)

    Aim:   To reveal the reason for Christ’s cry on the cross.


Today, we view once again Calvary. We stand at the foot of it and cast our gaze at the three crosses. We notice that Calvary if anything, is a place of contrast. At Calvary we see:

·         A true man of peace – Lord Jesus Christ AND men of war – the soldiers.

·         Here we see the World’s hatred for Christ AND Christ’s love for the World.

·         Here we witness the Son of God dying so that the sons of men can live

·         At this time, angels of a holy God were weeping, while the Devils of Satan are rejoicing.

·         It was at Calvary, we see a thief rejecting the precious gift of eternal life, while another was accepting it.

·         Here at Calvary, Christ’s life is lost, so that our life might be found.

·         At Calvary we see the depth of sin AND the heights of divine love.

·         At Calvary, our Saviour died and salvation was born.

·         At Calvary, darkness fell so that the light might shine in the hearts of those who visit.

·         Here at Calvary we see God praying AND the crowd cursing.

·         At Calvary we see man at his very worst AND God at His very best.


Up to our Scripture reading Matthew, Jesus has already spoke three times.

1st   He offered up a prayer for the forgiveness of his enemies – “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”

2nd  He gave the words of salvation for a dying thief – “Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

3rd  He put forth a request for to John for the care of His mother. “He saith unto his mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then saith he to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:25-27).


Shortly from that moment we pass on into Darkness, Desolation and Death. Darkness fell at the “sixth hour” until the “ninth hour.” The Jews divided their day into two 12-hr. segments beginning to count from 6 am. Reckoned according to Hebrew time, this would be 12 noon to 3 in the afternoon.


We are not talking here about an eclipse of the sun – Passover was celebrated at the time of the full moon, this is when the moon is opposite to the sun! So the darkening of the sun could not be the result of the natural phenomenon of the moon passing between the earth and the sun.


This darkness was noted by one at least of the pagan writers. Phlegon, a Roman astronomer, speaking of the 14th yr. of the reign of Tiberius, which is supposed to be that in which our Saviour died, says, that “the greatest eclipse of the sun that was ever know happened then, for the day was so turned into night that the stars appeared” (Barns Notes of the NT, pg. 140).


What went on beneath that dreaded veil, we are not meant to know as it wrapped Christ’s agony from the world’s eyes. It symbolised the blackness of His desolation and by it God dropped the heavens in mourning for man’s sin.


Nothing strikes fear into the heart of man like total darkness. I can only assume those present were “gobbed smacked” and shaking with fear as to what was transpiring that hour.


I think I can understand the words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” as they are written by David in the 22nd Psalm. But the same words, “My God, my God, why hast thou, forsaken me?” when uttered by Jesus on the cross, I cannot fully comprehend, so I’ll not pretend to be able to explain them to you. There is no plummet that can fathom the depths; there is no eagle’s eye that can penetrate the mystery that surrounds this strange question.


I have read where Martin Luther sat him down in his study to consider this text.

Hour after hour, that mighty man of God sat still and those, who waited on him, came into the room, again and again, and he was so absorbed in his meditation that they almost thought he was a corpse. He moved neither hand nor foot, and neither ate nor drank, but sat with his, eyes wide open, like one in a trance, thinking over these wondrous words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And when, after many long hours, in which he seemed to be utterly lost to everything that went on around him, he rose from his chair, someone heard him say, “God forsaking God! No man can understand that;” and so he went his way.

(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, pg. 315-316)


Though that is probably not the correct expression to use, —I endorse it. It is little wonder that Luther thought of our text in that light. It was said of Luther after this study that he looked like a man who had been down a deep mine, and who had come up again to the light. These few verses are tremendously deep — no man will ever he able to fathom them.


So I’m not, going to try to explain them, but first I want to make some points, ask a few questions and secondly, to draw some lessons from these verses.


Few of us understand the theories of electricity, but we make use of it every day. We may know of a variety of things for which we have practical use, BUT which are beyond the grasp of our minds. This saying of our Lord on the cross may be of great service to us even though we cannot fully comprehend it.

I.     Points and Questions

A.        Jesus was accustomed to addressing God as His Father.

1.    If you turn to Jesus’ prayers, he invariably speaks to God as His Father.

2.        Jesus’ relationship with Father is both 100% as God and 100% man.

3.    In this instance He does NOT say “Father,” BUT “My God.”

a.    Was this because He had doubts about His Sonship? Assuredly not!

b.        Satan assailed Him for 40 days in the wilderness. Time after time Satan challenged, “If Thou be the Son of God…” do such and such or so and so. BUT Christ sent him packing.

c.         Here Satan is not attacking. BUT here Jesus is doing business with God.

d.       Satan has not gained some advantage over our Lord in this situation and some how has made Him doubt His relationship with the Father.

B.   The Saviour was speaking to God as man! That is why Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” – (Matt 27:46)

1.    It’s inconceivable that God the Son would call God the Father, “My God.”

2.    But remember Jesus was Emmanuel –God with us – God and man united in ONE Person.

a.    It seems impossible that Jesus, as God would allow Himself to be scourged, spit upon, and mocked. It seems impossible for God to die.

b.    It was not only possible, but also absolutely necessary in order to complete redemption for the world.

c.    It was necessary for Him to be both God’s beloved Son and to be forsaken of His Father.

d.    Because He was God in the flesh, He could truly say, as many of us have said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

1)    As a believer, the next time you are persecuted and forsaken, keep in mind, Jesus, your Brother.
2)    Behold the ONE who has gone wherever you may have to go, the ONE who has suffered more that you can ever suffer, and the ONE who has taken His part in the direst calamity that ever happened to a human, so that He had to cry out in the agony of His soul, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

C.   What was this forsaking?

1.    Do you remember how it feels when you experience rejection? Maybe it came from a spouse, work mate, friend or from a family member? When it happens, it is unpleasant and painful. Like you, Jesus, as a man, experienced feelings of rejection on many occasions through out his life.

a.    Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth had thought of Him only as the son of a carpenter, NOT the Son of God.

b.    John 1:11 – We read, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

c.    After His profound teaching in John 6:66 – “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

d.    As a put down, when they ran out of anything meaningful to argue, the religious leaders accused him of being an illegitimate child, casting upon Him the stigma of being a social reject.

e.    At His trial, His devoted disciples had fled for fear of the Roman solders.

f.     Christ and the Father had dwelt in unity for all eternity. NOW, while in the darkest hour of His need, the Father rejects Him.

2.    What was this forsaking? Some think when God looked upon the Lord Jesus Christ, He saw the total sum of all the miseries brought upon man—from the Past, the Present and from Future generations of the human race.

a.    It must have been a holy horror!

1)    Here is Jesus Christ experiencing all the woes of man—
caused by S-I-N—in this life and in that which is to come.
2)    Jesus being completely man one with man, He spoke in the name of man and cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

b.    NOTE: The Saviour DID NOT say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken MAN?” but ME! This forsaking was personal!

3.    Others think Christ’s cry of forsaking had to do with the shock of His soul on account of the degradation of man’s sin.

a.    Christ did not say, “My God, My God, why has MAN forsaken THEE,” and why has Thou so completely left men in their sin?

b.    His cry was, “Why hast Thou forsaken ME? was NOT so much to the God of man to whom Jesus appealed, BUT to “My God, My God!”

c.    Jesus’ grief was a personal and it wrung from Him in the cry “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” This forsaking, by the Father, in whom He trusted, related particularly to HIMSELF!

4.    Could it be that Christ was forsaken due to some physical weakness?


Some of us may be aware that when one has experienced recent surgery or is has become very sickly—when the body is a low condition, the soul sinks. An involuntary unhappiness of mind, a depression of spirit, or a sorrow of heart often comes upon you.


You may be without any real reason for grief, yet you are unhappy because, for the time, your body has conquered your soul.

a.    Such was NOT the case with Jesus Christ! Not many moments after this, we read in Vs. 50 – the Jesus “cried again with a loud voice,” His conquering cry, “IT IS FINISHED!”

b.    His spirit over came His physical weakness—His loud voice proves He had a considerable amount of mental strength—notwithstanding His physical strength.

c.    The depression of spirit caused by physical reasons would not account for His agonising cry.

5.    Certainly, this cry was NOT because of unbelief.

a.    Sometimes this is the case of a child of God, who faces great trials and struggles—they cry out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

1)    As long ago as Isaiah’s day, “Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. (Isaiah 49:14)
2)    BUT the Lord replied, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isaiah 49:15)

b.    Unbelief often makes us talk about God forgetting us, when He does nothing of the kind.

c.    It was impossible for the Lord Jesus Christ to have any doubt about the faithfulness and loving-kindness of His Father. —Jesus’ cry did not arise from unbelief.

6.    Well, maybe Jesus made a mistake in crying out?

a.    Some believers, when the are having problems and things aren’t going their way think— “God has forsaken us! We must have misunderstood what He was doing or we missed or misinterpreted some signs as to how He was dealing with us.” Therefore they conclude that everything is against them, because God is out to get them for their spiritual stupidity.

b.    Christ was under no such delusions. There was no mistake about this matter at hand—God HAD forsaken Him! It was really so!

c.    When Jesus said, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me? —He spoke an infallible truth. —His mind was not deluded, nor was He under a cloud whatsoever. He knew what He was saying! His Father had forsaken Him!

7.    What can this expression mean? Does it mean that God did not love His Son?

a.    God did forsake His Son, but He loved Him as much when He forsook Him as at any other time.

b.    If were possible for God’s love towards His Son to be increased, he would have delighted in Him more when He was obediently suffering for the sins of the world than He had ever delighted in Him before.

c.    Let’s not think for one moment that God was angry with Him personally or looked upon Him as unworthy of His love or found anything in Him displeasing. BUT the fact remains, God had withdrawn from Him, He forsook Him. For the time being He had lost His Father’s favour.

D.   Jesus Christ was not only forsaken but separated from the father as well.

1.    After being with the Father for all eternity, the Father had to watch, as His son died alone on the cross.

2.    There are times in every life when we feel the pain of separation.

a.    1st time our children go to school; seeing a child into military or college; wedding days.

b.    After taking that final look and as you walk away from a grave of a loved one you feel the pain of separation.

c.    A missionary feels that pain of separation every time they say good bye to family.

d.    Every time a child becomes homesick at camp for their parents, every time we wave good bye to a loved one, God is reminding us of the pain he and His son suffered that day on the cross for you and me.

3.    The next time you say good bye and the tears start to flow remember how Jesus felt on the cross.

E.    But why did God the Father have to forsake God the Son?

1.    Because on the cross Christ not only bore our sin (Gal. 3:13), He became sin for us.

2 Cor. 5:21 – “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Isa. 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.”

2.    Because sin separates man from God.

a.    A Righteous, Holy, Just, God cannot look upon sin.

 Hab 1:13 – “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”

1)    Ps. 22:1 asked the question, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”
2)    Verse three of Ps. 22 answers it by saying, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

b.    Separation from God is the TRUE death – the WAGES of sin! In that dread hour Jesus bore in His own body and consciousness the uttermost of sin’s penalty.

1)    The physical fact of Christ’s death, if it could have taken place WITHOUT this desolation from the consciousness of separation from God, would NOT bring about the realisation of bearing ALL the consequences of man’s sin.
2)    These two—Christ’s physical, agonising, bloody death and His conscious separation from God the Father—MUST NEVER be parted when we think of what happened on Calvary’s Hill.
3)    Christ revealed to us by His cry “Why hast Thou forsaken Me? what He witnessed in that darkness at midday as He was bearing the whole weight of the world’s sin.

3.    Why did God the Father have to forsake God the Son? Because sinful man needed someone to die in his place. Man is incapable of saving himself. No matter how good a man tries to be, he will always fail!

Rom 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Rom 3:10 –As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Jesus paid the offal debt.

4.    Because on the Cross Jesus provided for every man a way to God. Jesus was separated from the Father so that you and I will not have to face eternal separation in Hell.

II.    Let’s draw some lessons

A.    Realise how much Jesus loves us.

1.    When Christ stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews said, “Behold how He loved him!”

2.    But on the cross Jesus did not weep, HE BLED! He did not merely bled – He died.

3.    Was there ever any other love like this? —That he Prince of life and glory should humble Himself to this shame and death for our sakes?

B.   Since He suffered so much for us, let us be ready to suffer anything for his sake.

1.    Let us be willing to give of ourselves to the reaching of the lost.

2.    Let us be willing to part with our last penny, for Christ’s name’s sake, if He requires it.

3.    Let us be willing to lose our reputation in our identification with Christ.


If you are a believer today, and you should ever feel that you are forsaken of God, there is hope for you for two reasons:

1.    If you should get into this state in any way, REMEMBER that we are only where Christ has been before us. Christ came through it and He will be with you in it. After all, no one ever before or since has ever been forsaken as He was.

2.    The feeling of being forsaken for the believer is just apprehension. I realise that is bad enough, but it is not a matter of fact for “For the LORD will not forsake his people for His great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people”(1 Sam. 12:22)


There is a much more awful thing even than crying, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

1.    If you are afraid that God has left you and the sweat stands on you brow in terror and you are not in the worst possible condition. Why? There is hope for you.

2.    But what is worse than that is to be without God and not care about it. To be living without God, without hope, yet not having a concern about themselves at all.

3.    You can pity the agony of the man who cannot bear to be without God, his agony will lead him to salvation in Christ, but what can be done who never have any communion with God and all the while are quite happy about it?


Please think on this – if God would forsake Christ because of our sins, how much more so will we be forsaken if we fail to accept Christ’s payment for our sin.

John 1:12 – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”



“Far dearer than all that the world can impart was the message that came to my heart;

How that Jesus alone for my sin did atone, and Calvary covers it all.

Calvary covers it all, my past with its sin and stain;

My guilt and despair, Jesus took on him there, and Calvary covers it all.”



1 April, 2001