Did God Abandon Jesus?

Sometimes I read scripture and and struggle with understanding it fully. A great example can be found in Matthew 27:46 where he calls out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have forsaken/abandoned me?”

Here’s the question that I have – is Jesus symbolically quoting Psalm 22:1 as a way of expressing human emotion or is Jesus actually stating that in this moment, He has literally been abandoned by God?

I would contend that Jesus, despite his obvious pain and suffering, maintained a high degree lucidity throughout the crucifixion experience and in this moment, quoted David in order to accurately convey the distinctive human emotion of feeling/sensing separation and distance from God. I would contend that Jesus cognitively recognized that God had not abandoned Him, but rather choose to quote David as a way of conveying to future generations the necessity of turning to scripture in those times of great need and stress when it appears that God has abandoned them.

However, there seems to be a popular belief that God actually turned his back and literally abandoned Jesus during this time. Proponents of this belief seem to argue that because Jesus took on the sins of all mankind and that God cannot stand the sight of evil (Habakkuk 1:13) and cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked (Psalm 5:4-8) that God abandoned Jesus because of this sin (Romans 1:28).

That seems inaccurate in light of Jeremiah 16:17 where God clearly says that He sees every sin and does not turn His back on the those in need (Psalm 22:24). 2 Corinthians 4:9 clearly tells us that we are never abandoned by God and John 3:16 would support the theory that because God saw the world and all of it’s sinfulness, that He gave Jesus in order to give us eternal life.

Here’s the dilemma I find myself facing.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was abandoned on the cross by God.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was not abandoned on the cross by God. 

What I can find is that God does not abandon man simply because man has sin in his life. God sees that sin, He hates it and cannot tolerate the sin, but he still loves the man enough to pay the price to cover the sin in order to restore the relationship between God and man.

I can find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 2:14-18 which reinforces the fullness of Christ’s humanity. From this perspective, Jesus had to be made like his brothers, like man, in every respect so that he might become the high priest in order to make the sacrifice for the since of the people. This would seem to eliminate the argument that God would not abandon man, but would abandon Jesus simply because Jesus was God’s son. Or that Jesus had some supernatural strength of some sort that allowed God to abandon Jesus, but not man. In order to make the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus had to be made like man in every respect.

I can also find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 4:14-16 which reinforces the affirmation that because of the fullness of His humanity, Jesus has experienced every temptation that we have, including the temptation of believing that God has abandoned Him in his time of need, but that He experienced these temptations and did not sin. 

A secondary supporting argument to this can be found in Romans 14:23 arguing that temptation to lose faith in God is akin to sin and because Jesus didn’t sin, Jesus could not have actually believed that God had abandoned Him otherwise that would have meant that He had sinned.

Therefore, based on on the primary and secondary supporting arguments, I believe that I can say with confidence that God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, but that Jesus, in the fullness of His humanity, experienced the very same emotional response that every human being does in times of high emotional and physical stress. And that as a result of that stress, the words that people heard was that Jesus felt as if God had abandoned Him in His time of need. However, the truth of this phrase is that in this time of crisis, Jesus turned to scripture in order to give Him the strength to continue on.

So, that said, I’d be interested in some scripturally-based feedback on this topic.

Follow Us