Did the Father Forsake the Son on the Cross?

In Matthew 27 and Mark 15, it records Jesus saying from the cross:

Matthew 27:45-46

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Two wrong ways to take this statement of Jesus:

  • “Jesus was truly and completely forsaken by God the Father, separated from the Father on the cross.” This exaggerates the idea of forsaken.
  • “Jesus was just quoting Psalm 22 to let everyone know that He was the fulfillment of that psalm.” This understates the idea of forsaken.

The true idea is somewhere in the middle of these extremes.

When Jesus said in Matthew 27:46 (also recorded in Mark 15:34) My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? The statement came from the great pain and suffering Jesus experienced on the cross. Through His life, Jesus had experienced both physical and emotional suffering in His life but never knew separation from His Father. Now, in some sense, Jesus knew it. There was a significant sense in which Jesus rightly felt forsaken by God the Father at this moment.

I like what Spurgeon said regarding this: “His one moan is concerning his God. It is not, ‘Why has Peter forsaken me? Why has Judas betrayed me?’ These were sharp griefs, but this is the sharpest. This stroke has cut him to the quick.” (Spurgeon)

As horrible as the physical suffering of Jesus was, this spiritual suffering – the act of being judged for sin in our place – was what Jesus really dreaded about the cross. This was the cup – the cup of God’s righteous wrath – that He trembled at drinking (Luke 22:39-46, Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15). On the cross, Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father’s fury. He did it so we would not have to drink that cup.

Isaiah 53:3-5 puts it powerfully:

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

For He [God the Father]

made Him [Jesus, God the Son]

who knew no sin to be sin for us,

that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus].

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself: Through all the terrors of the cross, God the Father worked in and with God the Son, reconciling the world to Himself. The Father and the Son worked together on the cross.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself is all the more amazing when understood in light of what happened on the cross. At some point before Jesus died, before the veil was torn in two, before Jesus cried out “it is finished,” an awesome spiritual transaction took place. The Father set upon the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and Jesus bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the justice of God for us.

Yet, at the same time, Paul makes it clear that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. They worked together. Though Jesus was being treated as if He were an enemy of God, He was not. Even as Jesus was punished as if He were a sinner, He performed the most holy service unto God the Father ever offered. This is why Isaiah can say, Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10). In and of itself, the suffering of the Son did not please the Father, but as it accomplished the work of reconciling the world to Himself, it completely pleased God the Father.

What Jesus did on the cross, in putting Himself in the place of guilty sinners, was the greatest act of love and self-sacrifice the universe has ever seen. While I don’t mind saying that Jesus felt forsaken of the favor of God the Father at that moment, there is a sense in which Jesus was never more in the Father’s favor as He performed this greatest act of love.

“I even venture to say that, if it had been possible for God’s love towards his Son to be increased, he would have delighted in him more when he was standing as the suffering Representative of his chosen people than ever he had delighted in him before.” (Spurgeon)

Remember that this was phrased in a question: Why have You forsaken Me? Yes, Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 – that great psalm of the Messiah’s suffering and triumph. But it wasn’t only a quote; we can also take it as a legitimate question.

We can imagine the answer to Jesus’ question: Why? “Because My Son, You have chosen to stand in the place of guilty sinners. You, who have never known sin, have made the infinite sacrifice to become sin and receive My just wrath upon sin and sinners. You do this because of Your great love, and because of My great love.” Then the Father might give the Son a glimpse of His reward – the righteously-robed multitude of His people on heaven’s golden streets, singing praises to the Lamb of God – surely, this was part of the answer to the question Jesus asked.

In that cry (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34), Jesus expresses both His partnership with God the Father (My God) and the agonizing feeling of receiving the wrath of God that we deserved (Why have You forsaken Me?)

So, we don’t want to err on either side.

  • We don’t want to think as if Jesus was truly and completely forsaken by God the Father, separated from the Father on the cross. This exaggerates the idea of forsaken.
  • We don’t want to think as if Jesus was just quoting Psalm 22 to let everyone know that He was the fulfillment of that psalm. This understates the idea of forsaken.

If I have wronged someone, will God not hear my prayers until I apologize?

In light of Matthew 5:24, if I owe someone an apology for yelling at them, but want to wait a while to get my thoughts in place, will God not hear my prayers until I apologize?  

Matthew 5:23-24 – Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

It may be the God won’t answer your prayer. The Bible gives us several reasons why prayer might not be answered. I think it’s fascinating study. I studied this topic years ago. Maybe I’ll prepare a message for our YouTube audience about reasons for unanswered prayer.

It could be because of sin in a person’s life, or impurity, or a lack of forgiveness, or a bad marriage relationship. It could be a failure to ask or asking amiss. The Bible gives many reasons why prayer might be unanswered by God.

I think God is merciful. If things aren’t completely right, He’ll still answer prayer – sometimes. But He is under no obligation to do so.

If you feel that prayers are unanswered in your life, you need to address it. You need to deal with this. You need to go before God and ask Him, “Lord, is there some reason?” Now, sometimes our prayers are unanswered just because God says “No.” We must admit: “No” is an answer. Sometimes our prayers seem unanswered because God is saying “Wait” – and “Wait” is an answer.

But we must deal with the fact that it could be that a lack of forgiveness hinders our prayer life before God. The Bible itself presents that very real possibility in the New Testament.

If all prophecy isn’t predictive, what other kinds are there?

The prophets of the Old Testament – Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zechariah, etc. – were many times announcing a future judgment, or a future restoration, or some other thing that would happen in the future, but many times their message was a call to repentance, with a promise of blessing right here and right now. This type of message didn’t really concern the future; it concerned God’s promise to do something in the immediate timeframe.

God can speak to His people prophetically right now without necessarily with predicting anything in the future. Sometimes people say that we should understand prophecy as not so much being foretelling, that is, telling them something before it happens, but forth-telling – in other words, telling the heart and the mind of God.

Friends, if you want to know the heart and mind of God, don’t go running after self-titled prophets. Seek Him in His Word. Now, I believe that God can and does reveal Himself and speak to people outside of the Scriptures. I think that’s clear both from the Scriptures and from experience. But I don’t think we should seek after that. If we’re going to seek the word and the voice of God, we don’t run after a prophet, we read His word. This is His word made sure to us. And if along the way God happens to bring us a word, in and through the giftings of His Holy Spirit, we’ll praise the Lord for that.

Why did the disciples betray Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane and fall asleep when Jesus wanted them to pray?

I wouldn’t quite say that they betrayed Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. I understand what you mean; I don’t think it’s a bad word, but it’s not the best word. Judas betrayed Jesus when he turned Jesus over to the religious leaders to be arrested and eventually crucified under the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The disciples failed Jesus, no doubt about it. They failed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

And why? I think Jesus spoke to it. With compassion, Jesus spoke to His sleeping disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Those were Jesus’ own words. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Friends, I want you to think about this for a moment. Jesus is diagnosing the human condition. We do oftentimes have a willing spirit, but a very weak flesh, a very weak ability to carry things out. And so this is what we need to give attention to. This is what we need to say: “Lord, help me to bring the flesh under submission to You. If my spirit is willing, my flesh can still let me down.”

Where were the disciples when Jesus was crucified?

The disciples scattered. They were in hiding, except for John. It seems that all the disciples scattered when Jesus was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter followed Jesus and saw Jesus’ interrogation before the religious leaders of the Jews. And then Peter ran off and hid himself. And then it seems that at the crucifixion, John the disciple found his way back to the place of the crucifixion. We know from the Gospels that Jesus was present at the scene of crucifixion, because Jesus entrusted His mother into the care of John. So, all the disciples scattered and went into hiding, with the exception of Peter, who followed part of the way, and John, who followed and met up with Jesus at the cross.

Now, where were they? Well, it could be that more disciples than just Peter watched these things from a distance, and were able to relay these things. It could also be that the Gospel writers learned of what Jesus underwent in His sufferings, not by their own personal observation, but by speaking with eyewitnesses. They could have been eyewitnesses themselves, but they were not necessarily. But they spoke with eyewitnesses. One guy we know for sure wasn’t there was Luke. Luke wasn’t there. Everything Luke knew about what happened at the trial of Jesus before the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders, and the crucifixion itself, he learned from eyewitnesses.

It may very well be that the disciples simply took the eyewitness testimony of other people who relayed to them reliably, and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to communicate what Jesus went through in His suffering and in His crucifixion.

If the gospel is so complex and extensive, how can we share it simply and succinctly?

If the gospel is so complex and extensive, how can we share it with people in a few minutes when we don’t have much time?

What a great question. I’m going to challenge the premise of your question. Here’s the premise of your question: that the gospel is complex and extensive. I’ll agree with extensive, because the gospel and all of its implications extend out in uncountable ways, but the gospel in and of itself is not complex.

Here’s the gospel. The gospel is the message of the good news of what God has done for us in the Person and in the work of Jesus Christ, especially what He did for us by dying on a cross and raising from the dead. That’s the gospel. I don’t know how long it took me to put into words – not very long. That’s the core of the gospel, especially as the Apostle Paul defined it in 1 Corinthians 15.

Please understand this: the Gospel can be understood simply. The core of the gospel is very simple. Just grab hold of it.

Now, to talk about the implications, outworking, and fullness of the gospel, to talk about all of the Person of Jesus, and all of the work of Jesus Christ, this would go on and on throughout all eternity. But the core of what Jesus did to save us is very simply expressed.

I’ll say it one more time. The gospel is the good news of what God has done to save us in Jesus Christ, in who Jesus is, and in what Jesus did, especially what Jesus did by dying on the cross, and in raising from the dead. We can go into great depth about the gospel, but that’s the core message. And that can be simply shared.

Does Revelation 22:18-19 apply to just the Book of Revelation or the whole Bible?

When Jesus says in the end of Revelation 22 that if anyone adds to these things or takes away, they will have consequences, did He mean that about the whole Bible, or just about the book of Revelation?

That’s a great question. I would say that the most pointed application of that truth which Jesus said, most simply concerns the Book of Revelation. But by extension – because we believe that God knew that the book of Revelation be the last book presented in canon of the New Testament – I would say that it applies to the entire New Testament and the Bible itself. But most pointedly, we would say that it applies to the book of Revelation in and of itself, and only beyond that by extension.

Does the Feast of Trumpets points to the Rapture of the Church?

Yes, I do believe that it points to the Rapture of the Church, the catching away of the church described in 1 Thessalonians 4-5. By the way, it seems so strange to me, that people would deny that there is a catching away of the Church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Someday, God’s people are going to be caught up – raptured. That’s just what it says. Now, I understand how some people don’t agree concerning the certain eschatological or End Times scheme, how some people say, “The Rapture is this, the Rapture is that; it happens there, it doesn’t happen there,” and so on. I understand the disagreement. But the fact that there will be a catching away of the Church is written for us right there in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

Now, is it connected with Feast of Trumpets? I believe so. If you match up other significant events in the life and ministry of Jesus, they seem to correlate with different Feasts of Israel. There is speculation on how perfectly they correlate, but certainly Jesus was crucified right at Passover, and He was raised from the dead in connection with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Church was inaugurated at the Feast of Pentecost, and I could go on.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this catching away of the Church will happen on the day that is recognized as the Feast of Trumpets. That may or may not happen. Maybe what the Jewish people regard today as the day for the Feast of Trumpets isn’t exactly correct on God’s calendar; maybe it’s off by a few days. So, I don’t blame any Christian for having a bit of heightened expectation when the Feast of Trumpets comes around. But nobody should feel that it’s disconnected. It doesn’t absolutely happen on that day, but there does seem to be a connection.

If the demons work through people, can angels also work through people?

That’s a great question. We have no biblical evidence of angelic beings possessing someone, in the way it speaks of demonic beings possessing someone. We have zero indication of that from Scripture. And instead, it would indicate that God’s people, those were born again by God’s Spirit, are actually indwelt by a spiritual power and person, but is the Holy Spirit of God, not an angelic being. But please don’t make any mistake: the manner of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of the believer is not after the pattern of demonic possession that we see in the Scriptures. The pattern of demonic possession that we see in the Scripture is violent, controlling, oppressive, and manipulative; it subsumes a person’s personality and the image of God within them. The work of the Spirit of God within a person does just the opposite. So no, we don’t have the idea of angels possessing anyone. But we do have the idea that every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.

Is it true that April is the real New Year as per the Bible?

Not exactly. I’m not saying that we should adopt the same calendar that Israel had in the Old Testament. There’s no command for the nations, for the Gentiles, or the world at large, to adopt this calendar. I understand and I respect that the Jewish people do the best they can to adopt that calendar, but there’s no command to do so.

I would point out that, to the best of my understanding, the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, so it’s based on months. Our modern-day calendar is very different. The new year for the Jewish people is usually in April, but not always. It could come earlier, in March; I don’t know if it could come in May. But because it’s based on a lunar calendar instead of a solar calendar, these things can be different.

Did God divide the earth when He divided the people at the Tower of Babel?

No, we have no indication of that. He did not divide the land, but people drifted out towards different lands. We have a very interesting verse in the book of Acts that tells us that God has ordained a place, a role, and a destiny for each nation; God has established these nations and established their boundaries.

Acts 17:26-27 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

We can understand from this that God did direct people, all in His providence, to different places. But those geographical divisions were not made at Babel. God, in His providence, worked those things out.

Why does Revelation 13:8 refer to Jesus as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”?

Revelation 13:8 – All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The sacrifice of Jesus to save His all those would put their trust in Him – His people, His chosen – was ordained by God from before the foundation of the world. God knew what He was doing. The sin and rebellion of Adam (and Eve, of course, but Adam is the one who bears the responsibility for it) was not a surprise to God. He had already factored it in. It was as if the sacrifice had already been made, because it was so established in the plan of God, that it was absolutely, positively going to happen.

What is the significance of the wedding garment in the parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 22?

In Matthew 22, what is the significance of the wedding garment? And why was he not wearing the garment but called his friend and then was thrown out?

Most people say, and I agree with them, that the wedding garment in Matthew 22 relates to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The believer must be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, or they won’t be accepted into or allowed to enter Heaven. The parable of the wedding feast is illustrating that we must be clothed in the righteousness of another, specifically the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Apparently, this was a practice that when people came to party in that day, they were sometimes or maybe even often given a garment to wear, so that everybody had a nice suit, or at least the same suit, of clothes as everybody else. And if someone refused that garment provided by the host, it was a great insult.

Jesus Christ offers His people a garment, a covering, of righteousness, and it must be received and worn. We don’t trust in our own righteousness in our own ability to save ourselves. We look to Jesus.

What’s the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven?

Here’s my take on this. I don’t see any difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. You will find that phrase, “kingdom of heaven,” used most often in the Gospel of Matthew.

Keep in mind that Matthew wrote for Jewish sensibilities. Oftentimes Jewish people, both ancient and modern, did not want to make a direct reference to God. Therefore, they would substitute words or ideas for the name of God or even for the word, “God.” So, often instead of saying, “The kingdom of God,” they would say, “The kingdom of heaven.” They meant the kingdom of God, but they just used heaven as a substitute word for God. So, I do not see any distinction. Nobody’s pointed out to me any meaningful distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven.

Based on Genesis 1:29, should we avoid eating mushrooms, because they don’t reproduce with seeds?

Genesis 1:29 mentions “fruits with seeds.” Some Israelites says mushrooms have no seeds, and according to this verse are therefore forbidden. Also, mushrooms grow during the nighttime, and darkness is negative. What’s your view?

Genesis 1:29 – And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” 

I would explain it this way. Maybe it could be said that mushrooms, being some kind of fungus, don’t have seeds, and they multiply or propagate some other way. If there are observant Jewish people who decide, “Therefore I won’t eat mushrooms,” well, God bless you. But nowhere in the Scriptures does God prohibit the eating of mushrooms – especially those lovely wild mushrooms that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law love to find in the forest in Sweden. Those chantarelle mushrooms are beautiful and wonderful, and since there’s no commandment against it, I think we can partake of such wonderful foods that God has provided for us.

If somebody felt convicted, they do have freedom in Christ or freedom in their custom to do so. But we must understand that there’s no command in the Scriptures to not eat a mushroom because it doesn’t propagate through seeds.