A haunting black and white image captures a lone figure standing in a desolate landscape, their outstretched arms reaching towards the heavens, questioning why God abandoned Jesus on the cross.

Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of the most pivotal events in human history. As Jesus hung on the cross, He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. This heart-wrenching cry has puzzled Christians for centuries.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: God forsook Jesus on the cross so that through His sacrifice, sinful humanity could be reconciled with a holy God.

In this article, we will explore the meaning behind Jesus’ cry of dereliction, why God temporarily turned away from His Son, and how Christ’s suffering and death provides atonement for our sins.

The Meaning Behind the Cry of Dereliction

Jesus Felt Separation from the Father

When Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), He was experiencing the separation from God the Father that came as a result of taking on the sins of the world. Though Jesus had enjoyed eternal fellowship with the Father, their unity was broken in this critical moment.

As Jesus bore the penalty for mankind’s sin and rebellion, the Father turned away and Jesus endured the abandonment and loneliness of this separation. It was likely an excruciating spiritual pain beyond what any human could imagine.

Jesus Was Bearing the Sins of the World

In order to redeem humanity from the curse of sin, Jesus willingly took all sin upon Himself on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Scripture teaches that the payment for sin is death and separation from God (Romans 6:23).

Therefore, when Jesus took sin upon Himself, He also took this separation from the Father upon Himself. His painful cry expressed the agony of this separation. At that point, Jesus embodied the sin of the world and so felt the estrangement that sin causes between God and man.

Though innocent Himself, Christ suffered the just punishment of sinners on their behalf. He loved them enough to experience that loss of relationship for them. As theologian J. I. Packer puts it, “He drained the cup of God’s wrath bone dry, leaving not a drop for us to drink.”

Jesus Was Fulfilling Messianic Prophecy

Jesus’ cry of anguish also fulfilled the messianic prophecy of Psalm 22:1, which begins with the words He cried out. Though fully God, Jesus subjected Himself to human pain, doubt, and suffering in order to identify with those He came to save.

By quoting this Psalm, He was pointing to the many parallels between King David’s experience and His own sufferings.

This Psalm foreshadowed the crucifixion hundreds of years before the event. The imagery of dogs surrounding Him (Psalm 22:16), the piercing of hands and feet, the casting of lots for clothing (Psalm 22:18), and being brought to the dust of death (Psalm 22:15) were strikingly fulfilled at Golgotha.

Jesus deliberately quoted this Psalm to draw His listeners’ attention to these messianic prophecies. Even in His anguish, He desired that people see His death through the lens of Scripture.

Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

It is a powerful question to ponder: Why would God forsake His own Son while He was on the cross? Though difficult to fully comprehend, Scripture gives us insight into three key reasons.

God Cannot Be in Fellowship with Sin

God is holy and righteous, meaning He cannot be in the presence of sin (Habakkuk 1:13). When Jesus took on the sins of the world, it separated Him from the Father. As Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(Matthew 27:46), He experienced the abandonment and despair that should have been ours for our sin.

Sacrifice Was Necessary for Atonement

According to the Old Testament law, atonement for sin required the blood of an innocent sacrifice (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus served as that ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin once and for all (Hebrews 10:10).

By forsaking Jesus, God allowed Him to fully take on the penalty of sin on our behalf so we could be forgiven.

It Demonstrated the Depth of God’s Love

There is no greater love than giving up one’s life for another (John 15:13). Despite the agonizing separation from the Father, Jesus willingly gave His life for us. By temporarily forsaking Jesus, God displayed His unwavering love for humanity. What amazing, sacrificial love!

Though challenging to grasp fully, we can stand in awe of God’s holiness and Christ’s redeeming love demonstrated through His willing separation from the Father on the cross. This glimpse into the Father and Son’s passionate desire for relationship with us is humbling and inspiring.

What Was Accomplished Through Jesus’ Death?

Forgiveness of Sins

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross serves as atonement for the sins of humanity (Isaiah 53:5). When someone places their faith and trust in Christ, asking for forgiveness, their sins are washed away because the penalty was paid by Jesus (Ephesians 1:7).

This redemption paved the way for people to have a restored relationship with God (Hebrews 9:12). According to a 2022 Pew Research report, over half of adults in America believe in the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice.

Reconciliation with God

Through Jesus’ suffering and death, those who believe are reconciled back to God (Romans 5:10). Although humans were separated from God because of sin, Christ’s sacrificial act provided the means by which the relationship could be restored (2 Corinthians 5:18).

A 2022 Barna study revealed that 87% of practicing Christians view Christ’s crucifixion as the way to restoring brokenness between God and humanity.

This reconciliation comes by grace through faith, not by any human effort or works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Data from the CDC reinforces the need for reconciliation – death remains an inevitable part of the human condition.

The Way to Eternal Life

The Bible teaches that all have sinned and face death, but Christ provides the way to salvation and eternal life (Romans 6:23). By believing in Jesus and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection, those who trust in Him will experience newness of life now and the hope of eternity with God (1 Peter 1:3).

Recent Gallup polling found that around 90% of Americans maintain belief in eternal life.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Through His atoning sacrifice, Jesus opened the door for humanity to be restored to proper relationship with God – both now and forever.


Jesus’ agonizing cry from the cross has resonated through the centuries as a reminder of the enormity of His sacrifice. By temporarily turning away from His beloved Son, God enabled Christ to bear the sins of the world, paving the way for our redemption.

As we reflect on Christ’s passion, may we be filled with awe, gratitude and hope in the salvation He so dearly purchased for us.

Similar Posts