The fourth phrase that Jesus utters on the cross is:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
Or we could say
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
These famous words are originally found in the Psalms. They are the opening words of Psalm 22 which describes someone facing great distress and who in the midst out of their distress cries “My God, my God...”
It’s deep a cry from the heart when life feels so messed up and God seems so far away.
Now here is the question – why did Jesus feel so abandoned? Why this sense of being alone with no one to help? Why does the Father turn his back on the Son’s intense agony? The answer is given to us in another famous verse:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Very simply, Jesus faced the anguish and horror of separation from God for your and my sin. That is why he came. That is why he died – so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
The truth of the matter is that sin is a horrible thing (if you don’t believe me, just read through today’s papers). It leads to death and not just physical death which we’ll have to face one day but to eternal death – the utter separation from God and the horrible agony of everlasting fire in hell. However (and this is important) rather than send people to hell, God offers a way out: Jesus’ death on the cross.
Jesus died a death he didn’t deserve to give us a life we could not earn. He was abandoned by the Father so that come judgement day, we who trust in Him would not be abandoned.
It’s interesting that only here with this fourth word, Jesus address God as God rather than calling Him “Father” (which is what he normally calls Him; Heavenly Father, Abba Father, My Father, etc). In his sacrificial death for our sin, Jesus seems to forget that he is a Son. The intimacy that he had always enjoyed with His Father seems at this dark moment to be no more... and he endured that for us... us who didn’t deserve paradise but who can now say: “we are children of God!”
What an extraordinary sacrifice, Jesus’ death was that first Good Friday. This perfect Man died a death he didn’t deserve to give us a life we could not earn – today is Good Friday indeed...