Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani: A Commentary on Matthew 27:46


And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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This is the point of no return in Jesus’s mission to reconcile man back to God. At that point, all of humanity’s sin fell on Jesus. God the Father placing and seeing all the filth and sinfulness of man caused Him to turn away from Jesus His only begotten Son. In that moment there was a separation between father and son. Something that broke the heart of God and left Jesus crying – “Eli Eli, lema sabachthani – my God my God why has thou forsaken me?” What did Jesus really mean by this and how significant is it for us today?

My God, My God:

In quoting Psalms 22, Jesus declared His fulfillment of that prophecy, in both its agony and it exultation. The Psalm goes on to say, You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You. (Verse 21 says – “Save me from the lion’s mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.” Verse 22 says – “I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Psalms 22:21-22).

Why have You forsaken Me?

Jesus knew great pain and suffering – both physical and emotional – in His life, but had never known separation from His Father; now He does. There was a significant sense in which Jesus rightly felt forsaken by the Father at this moment. How? Because God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (Verse 21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But Jesus not only endured the withdrawal of the Father’s fellowship, but also the real outpouring of the Father’s wrath upon Him as a substitute for sinful humanity. Horrible as this was, it fulfilled God’s good and loving plan of redemption. Therefore Isaiah can say Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. (Verse 10 – But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would give Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand (Isaiah 53:10).

At the same time, we cannot say that the separation between the Father and the Son at the cross was complete. Paul made this clear in Verse 19 – namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 : God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself at the cross.

The agony of this cry is significant. It rarely grieves man to be separated from God, or to consider that he is a worthy object of God’s wrath. Yet this was the true agony of Jesus on the cross.

To close, maybe today you feel like God has forsaken you in a similar way Jesus felt, but you need to understand that “sometimes God takes away from a Christian His comfort, but He never takes away His sustaining presence. You know the difference between sunshine and daylight. A Christian has God’s daylight in his soul when he may not have sunlight; that is, he has enough to light him, but not enough to cheer and comfort him.” (J. Cumming, D. D.)

So cheer up and fix your eyes on Jesus – the pioneer and perfected of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are.

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Excerpts From David Guzik’s Commentary on Mathew 27

9 responses to “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani: A Commentary on Matthew 27:46

  1. What does it really feel like when you are forsaken – ask Jesus. I am so glad He sympathizes with me when I feel forsaken. Happy Easter my brother, Happy Easter…

  2. What brings me comfort now….is that of all the times I’ve felt that God has forsaken me….there was not one time when he was really had…it was me turning away from him every time! Only Jesus has felt the deepest pain of being truly forsaken. Good read Walter!

  3. Pingback: Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? Into the Most Holy Place « Resting in His Grace·

  4. A very good reminder of what Christ went through for our sake and, no matter how we feel on a certain day or at a time in our lives, just how much He loves us. Thanks, Walter!

  5. Walter, I like how you explained Christ’s atoning work on the cross; And thank you for the reminder that we walk by faith and not by feelings. He promised never to forsake us and He means it.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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