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My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

We are continuing our meditation on the last seven sayings of Christ while His life is slowly ebbing away on the cross.

4) The fourth saying Jesus spoke was, "'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"' (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). If Jesus had never sinned as the Scriptures teach, and He was totally pure and innocent of all charges of blasphemy brought against Him, why would Christ feel forsaken of God near the hour of His death?

Paul wrote that the Lord Jesus was our substitutionary sacrifice: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, Emphasis mine). Just as the high priest, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), laid his hands on a sacrificial animal to make atonement for sin, praying the transference of the nation's sins to the animal, now, in the same way, God transferred the sin of the world to Jesus. The Lord became the sin-bearer for the whole human race. Scripture tells us that God is too pure to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), so fellowship between the Son of God and the Father was broken as the Father turned away from Christ for the first time in eternity. Christ came to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. As death drew near, Jesus spoke for the fifth time:

5) “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

We cannot tell what Christ was experiencing when He spoke the fifth saying. Some commentators say He was beginning to suffer the thirst of a man without God. The thought is that because Christ bore the sin of many, the Father had withdrawn from Him. We can't know for sure if this is so, but if it was, perhaps Christ was experiencing the thirst that the rich man in hell suffered upon death (Luke 16:24). The rich man’s experience was that he was thirsty and desired Lazarus to dip his finger into water to cool his tongue.

In a prophetic psalm about the crucifixion, King David spoke of Christ’s body being pierced and shutting down: “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15). What David saw prophetically was that the tongue of Jesus stuck to the top of His mouth, which is what happened in those crucified. The Lord had now drunk the cup of God's judgment to the full (Luke 22:42), so he looked for some relief to shout His following words of victory. This time there was no myrrh, no narcotic offered Him (which He refused); it was sour wine on a sponge lifted to His mouth. "A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips (John 19:29, Emphasis mine).

Interestingly, Scripture tells us that someone at the cross raised a hyssop plant with a sponge of sour vinegar to Christ’s lips to relieve the Lord of His dry mouth. Hyssop was the same plant dipped in the blood of a lamb and used to strike the doorposts and lintels at the time of the Passover from Egypt (Exodus 12:22). The children of Israel were delivered from slavery to Egypt by a substitute lamb's blood, just as we are delivered from the bondage of sin by the substitutionary blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus.

Christ took a drink from the sponge on the hyssop, and both Matthew and Mark record Jesus shouting out something from the cross before giving up His spirit: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50). He pushed one more time on the wedge of wood under His feet and shouted words loudly. It is John who tells us what He victoriously called out. Let's talk about that tomorrow. Keith Thomas.

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Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke. Click study 63: The Crucifixion of Christ.


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