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The Question

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About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46 NIV) 

Jesus asked questions when teaching and talking with people. Sometimes He answered questions with a question. But there is only one question recorded in the Gospels that Jesus asked His Father. Some commentary suggests the question was rhetorical—that He didn’t expect an answer. Also, the question draws attention to Psalm 22, which very accurately and prophetically describes His suffering. Hours after He had been nailed to the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice … “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus was not quoted as questioning God His Father about the accusations and beatings, or the scoffing and mocking, or even the crucifixion itself. The question was about the forsaking. He had lost communion with His Father for the first—and last—time. 

The bereaved, if they have loved and been loved, know that one immediate result of death is separation—the end of access to the relationship. One parent I know whose child died said she wished heaven had visiting hours. You just want to be in the presence of your loved one with all of your being. Grief is exhausting. Mary, the mother of our Lord, endured the torture, crucifixion of—and separation from—her Son. 

And if separation from a loved one is intolerable, separation from God—His comfort, His guidance, His presence—is unfathomable. This our Lord endured, and His followers will not have to.

The one question to the Father we know that Jesus voiced aloud for all to hear: Why? Why did God forsake His Son? 

Can any answer fully satisfy our hearts or fully explain this mystery? We enter into the mystery by coming to the cross. Draw near it. Look upon the One who was pierced for us, scorned for us, made sin for us—forsaken for us. Dwell with Him there today and be transformed by the Father’s forgiveness of sin, and His love.

The eternal God sees us, as Psalm 139:16 says: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Even while on the cross, our Messiah saw us. He knew us then. 

The verse below from the Charles Wesley hymn “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain” hints at the transformation that takes place at the cross: 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou my God, should die for me! 


Scripture is quoted from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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About The Author

Helen R.

Helen has been writing, editing, and proofreading for CBN since 1986. She enjoys cooking, the Oxford comma, learning piano, and birdwatching in her backyard.

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