As Jesus was being crucified, he cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why would Jesus feel forsaken by God? Many have put forth an explanation along the lines that on the cross, Jesus became the embodiment of sin and God cannot look upon sin. So it was at that moment that God turned his back on his son (thus “fracturing” the godhead for the only time in history). I don’t know if I completely buy into this explanation.
For one, as many of you might have noticed, the line that Jesus cries is an Aramaic translation of the opening line of Psalm 22. As you turn to Psalm 22, you can see in this Psalm images that bring do mind what Jesus might have experienced during his crucifixion:
Verses 7-8 – All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads; He trusts in the Lord; let the lord rescue him… (Mark 15.20, 29-32)
Verse 15b – my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth (John 19.28)
Verse 16-18 – Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all of my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. (Mark 15.24)
Yet if we keep reading this Psalm we notice that it does not continue this theme of abandonment, but a hope of rescue. It does not end in a theme of defeat but of triumph.
Verse 24 – For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
Verse 25 – From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly…
Verse 31 – They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it (that is delivered the suffering one).