About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34
Jesus expected to be despised and rejected by men. He didn’t come to earth to win a popularity contest. Jesus came to save the lost, even when the lost, especially the religious leaders, didn’t appreciate the saving. Their rejection was no surprise.
Jesus just wasn’t the kind of Savior that they wanted. He didn’t live up to their expectations. Jesus came and proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah, yet the Jews were still under Roman oppression. Where was His horse? Where was His sword? Where was His army? What kind of “Messiah” was this? The religious leaders rationalized that this must be a false one. Jesus couldn’t be it. He was a disappointment to them.
Jesus also knew that He would be rejected by the Father when He took on all of our sins. He knew full well the purpose of His coming. Taking on our sin was the focus of His mission on earth. This is what He was humanly born to do. Yet, Jesus had never experienced separation from the Father. He had never been rejection by the Father. They were intimately connected. They were One.
When Jesus utters this phrase, which is given to us in both Aramaic and English (from the Greek), His lament is not a complaint. What He experienced was not a surprise. It wasn’t remorse.
Beyond the ridicule and the physical pain leading to His death, this experience of separate from the Father was Jesus’ true agony. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus fully felt the pain of His wounded and broken body. But, separation from the Father was incalculable degrees worse than the physical pain.
Paul writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We will never be good enough to achieve righteousness. Jesus made the way for us to be united to God. He bore the brunt in His body and in His soul, so we wouldn’t have to.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, KJV). Oh, how He loves us so.