“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Mark 15:24
Yet God clearly states that He will never leave, nor forsake us. So why did He forsake Jesus on the cross at that very moment.
Upon first reflection, I thought that the scripture referencing Jesus not forsaking us was mentioned in the New Testament- after the death of Jesus. It was, and I found it in Hebrews 13:5. But there were many more before the crucifixion (Genesis 28:15, Deuteronomy 4:31). So that didn’t “hold water”.
My conclusion: It wasn’t a New Testament promise.
So, why then, did Jesus clearly ask God why He had been forsaken? Did God truly leave Him? Did God break a promise?
What Do We Know About God?
We know that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) and that His Word is true. God’s Word does not change (1 Samuel 15:29). So, God did not break a promise, change His mind about never leaving us- even Jesus- no matter what the circumstances.
But why did Jesus say this?
Why Was It Said? Why Was It Done?
The popular belief is that God couldn’t be in the presence of sin. God was there, but He never truly left- He just turned His face for a bit. But then, why would Jesus use the word, “forsake”?
Before Jesus died, He took on the sin of the world- which means all of the sin of the world. He took on all of the evil, all of the sin, all of the destructive things that man does and thinks so that we could be reconciled to God.
Prior to this, Jesus was without sin. Scripture quotes Jesus several times as saying that He does nothing apart from the Father- that what He says and does are according to God’s will. Not His own. So while Jesus is fully God and fully man, He could never experience the sin nature of man up until the crucifixion. Otherwise He would never have been the sacrificial lamb.
It may be speculation or revelation, but armed with the knowledge that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, wouldn’t God have to “leave” when Jesus took on the sin of the world? While God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, yet separate entities, they are still one. God not being able to be in the presence of sin would mean that He couldn’t really “stick around” while His Son was taking on the sin of the world.
Therefore, it would make sense that as Jesus became more “fully man”, that God would have to turn away causing Jesus to ask God why He was being forsaken. Up until then, Jesus freely spoke with God, heard from God, and acted on God’s behalf. There was never any separation between the two- up until now.
It doesn’t mean that God left (abandoned) Him. But it might imply that He was no longer in God’s presence… because He couldn’t be. For Him to be in God’s presence would mean that scripture contradicted itself- and we know that not to be the case.
So the answer to a very valid question (because on the surface it seems contradictory), is that God didn’t abandon Jesus, as forsake may imply, and He won’t forsake you according to the scripture. When Jesus asked God why He was being forsaken, He is referencing that for the first time, He wasn’t in God’s presence because He had taken on the sin of the world.