MATTHEW 27:46 NT Bible Difficulty: “My God, My God, Why Have You forsaken Me?”

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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

What did Jesus say?

Not long before his death, Jesus cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) None of the Gospels give us any indication as to why Jesus said this. What though can we learn from Jesus’ words? One thing that we know is that Jesus was quoting King David’s Words and fulfilling the prophecy found in Psalm 22:1. In addition, In the book of Job, Satan falsely accuses the Father concerning Job, “have you not put a hedge [invisible wall of protection] around him”? By Jesus’ saying the words, we know that the Father was not ‘putting a hedge around the Son.’ (Job 1:10) Jesus well knew that the Father had allowed him to be fully tested, being no different from any other servant of God who has had to deal with the wrath of God’s enemies. The words also convey to us that Jesus was completely innocent of these false charges against him.

Why did Jesus quote David’s words in Psalm 22:1?

These words are some of the last that Jesus would utter and cause much confusion. Matthew 27:46: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We would certainly be wrong in our interpretation if we thought that Jesus was doubting, losing his faith, looking for a way out, or that he was disappointed. Jesus certainly understood the purpose of his ransom sacrificial death more than any human ever could, and he was ready and willing to make that sacrifice (Matt. 16:21; 20:28) Jesus would also know that the Father was going to remove all protection at the time of his death. (Job 1:10) The Father was giving the Son an opportunity to remain faithful under the direst circumstances, just like many imperfect human servants had. (Mark 14:35-36) We can offer some reasonable likelihoods as to why Jesus quoted David just before his death, but we cannot be 100% absolutely certain.

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When Jesus quoted King David’s words, did he think that the Father
had absolutely abandoned him?

Jesus had to give his perfect human life as the ransom without Father putting any protective “hedge” around him. (Job 1:10) . He needed to offer his perfect human life, and he had to die to “taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 2:9)

Was Jesus thinking of the entire Psalm as he quoted a few words of David?

The memory of the Jewish people was phenomenal, as many had memorized word for word most proverbs and psalms. By uttering a few words of David, Jesus could have brought the entire section to mind for his followers so that they could see that this had long been prophesied. (Psa. 22:7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 24) The psalm would also remind them that, regardless of the difficulties that were coming, in the end, the Kingdom of God would conquer and be victorious, with prosperity to the ends of the earth. (Psa. 22:27-31)

Was Jesus drawing attention to his innocence by quoting David?

Before Jesus would be executed, he would not only undergo horrendous torture but also an illegal trial, wherein they would find him guilty of blasphemy. (Matt. 26:65-66) The trial was done during the cover of night and was not the normal procedure, nor followed the current legal norms of the day. (Matt. 26:59; Mark 14:56-59). By Jesus quoting King David’s words as a question in such a way that he intended to persuade, draw attention to, or impress upon those listening that he was not guilty of such a charge.

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Was Jesus using the David connection because David, although he suffered,
David still had God’s approval?

King David’s question was no evidence that he lacked faith because David faced a lifetime of distress, always remaining faithful. After David asked the question, the rest of the Psalm he made it clear that he had complete confidence in God’s ability to rescue him and bless him. (Psa. 22:23-24, 27) Likewise, Jesus, “the Son of David,” had endured a horrendous beating and was dying on the cross, yet his quoting David’s words did not mean that God no longer found favor in Jesus, or that Jesus lacked faith in the Father’s ability to save him. (Matt. 21:9) Rather, Jesus knew, of course, the lifetime of faithfulness that David had shown, even though David stumbled in his human imperfection majorly on several occasions, he still had God’s approval. Jesus on the other hand was perfect and never stumbled, and was completely innocent.

Was Jesus grieved because the Father had withdrawn all protection from him?

When God created Adam and Eve, it was never His intention that he would have to offer the Son as a ransom sacrifice, who would need to die to balance the scales of justice. However, after the human rebellion in the Garden of Eden, it became necessary. The son, of course, needed to suffer and die. “As one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[c] leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.’ (Rom 5:18-19) This needed to take place in order to address the issues raised by Satan and to buy back what had been lost. (Mark 8:31; 1 Pet. 2:21-24) This was only possible if the Father temporarily removed the hedge of protection from Jesus.

Was Jesus’ Quotation of David’s Words to encourage his followers to direct their attention, not to the false charges, but why the Father had to allow Jesus to offer himself in this way?

Jesus, of course, foreknew that his death as a criminal “crucified, [was] a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (1 Cor. 1:23) If Jesus could get his followers to center their attention on the real reason that he needed to offer a ransom sacrifice; then, some would comprehend its true importance. As Paul put it, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal. 3:13-14) Jesus wanted them to see him as he was, their Savior, not some blasphemer criminal.

We cannot say for certain exactly why Jesus quoted David’s Words from Psalm 22:1. However, he knew that he was doing the will of the Father and for Jesus, the Son of God, the primary concern was always the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23) Moments after quoting David at Psalm 22:1 Jesus said: “It is finished.” (John 19:30; Luke 22:37) What was finished? The will of the Father. Yes, the very short period when the Father polled away the invisible protection that Jesus was being given, it allowed Jesus to fulfill, to carry out the will and purpose of the Father. As Jesus said, “as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his soul as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) Jesus also said, “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)

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What can we learn?

What we can draw from this is that we know the Father listens to our prayers. However, we must not think that God is at the ready to put an invisible hedge up about us to protect us from the difficulties of Satan’s world. Yes, he has a spiritual hedge that surrounds us to protect us from demonic attacks, but not from the bad things of our human imperfection and the imperfect world. As Jesus had to be faithful to the limit of his endurance, so too, we need to be ready for the same. (Matt. 16:24-25) However, the apostle Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) We must also keep in mind that Jesus suffered unjustly, for he was perfect and absolutely innocent. (1 Pet. 2:19-20) This is not true of us. We need to realize in these last days that those in the world, alienated from God, hate us because we have the truth, and they do not. We “are not of the world, just as [Jesus was] not of the world.” (John 17:14; 1 Pet. 4:15-16) Jesus knew why the Father allowed him to suffer, so we need to take in enough Bible knowledge to appreciate this as well. We need to do this before we are hit with an onslaught of difficult times and begin to say, “why me?” Paul tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

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