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What Did Jesus Mean When He Said ‘Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani’?

Jesus knew what He was doing as He died on the cross, yet we can only imagine the pain He would have felt on the cross. The Lord took on all of the sins of the world and died the gruesome death on the cross.

 


As Jesus was on the cross, around three o’clock, He cried, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani,” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Upon first glance, it can be confusing as to why Jesus would say these words. Why would Jesus say He was forsaken by God?


1. The Crucifixion

Jesus’ death by crucifixion was the worst death that anybody would have to endure. Despite the pain and agony of the cross, Jesus chose to die for the sins of the world because He loves us.

While He was on the cross, He cried out, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani,” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Jesus said, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani” on the cross in fulfillment of Psalm 22. Psalm 22:1 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”

From these passages of Scripture, we are told that Jesus was asking the Father why He had forsaken Him. Jesus would have been in pain and in anguish when He spoke these words. From the Lord’s perspective, He would have felt forsaken by His disciples and by the Father.

He was left all alone on the cross. Jesus knew what He was doing as He died on the cross, yet we can only imagine the pain He would have felt on the cross. The Lord took on all of the sins of the world and died the gruesome death on the cross.

He experienced all of the pain that we deserved. It was our place to die on the cross, yet He took our place in order for us to receive salvation through placing faith in Him. Jesus never sinned as He was God in the flesh (1 John 3:5).

It was only through Jesus’ sinless sacrifice that we could be saved (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is hard to decipher what Jesus means when He says He has been “forsaken.” It is clear that the Father was pleased with Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and He dearly loved Him.

It is best to conclude that Jesus says He was forsaken by the Father because it fulfilled the Psalm 22:1 prophecy. The Lord also could have said this because He did feel forsaken as He hung on the cross. Pain, agony, and abandonment would have pierced through Jesus’ heart and mind.

Anyone would feel forsaken as they hung on the cross with no help in sight. Even though Jesus knew the Father loved Him, He could not help but feel the pain of death, agony, and abandonment.

At the time of the incarnation, Jesus became fully man in addition to being fully God. Within the field of theology, this is known as the hypostatic union. The Lord was fully God, yet He was also fully man (Colossians 2:9).

Since the Lord was both fully man and fully God, He was able to feel the same emotions, pains, and anguish that we can feel as humans. Prior to the incarnation, no member of the Trinity took on human flesh and experienced what it was like to be human.

Only Jesus did; therefore, He was able to feel the pain and agony of being abandoned and forsaken.


2. Taking Up Our Sins

On the cross, Jesus died for the sins of the entire world. Despite the fact that Jesus never sinned, He died on the cross for our sins. Ever since the fall of mankind, we have been separated from God because of our sins.

It is only by Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that we could be forgiven of our sins and be restored in a right relationship with the Father. Since we could not fix our severed relationship with the Father, Jesus fixed it for us.

Now anyone can be saved by placing faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (John 3:16-17). When we place faith in Jesus, we are given forgiveness of sins, redemption, and eternal life. There is no salvation apart from Jesus as He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

The Lord endured such a bloody and painful death because of His great love for us. Jesus experienced and felt total separation from the Father so that we would not have to. This alone should cause us to be extremely grateful and thankful to Jesus.

Without Christ, we would be on the road to eternal separation from God in hell. Through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we have the chance at a new life with Him.


3. The Suffering of Christ

It is without a doubt that the Lord experienced intense pain on the cross. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4-5,

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

As this passage of Scripture tells us, Jesus took up our pain and suffering in order to redeem us. He was stricken, afflicted, and crusted for our sins. Through Jesus’ suffering on the cross, it brought us peace, and through His wounds, we are eternally healed.

It is too often that we overlook Jesus’ death on the cross. We can become so accustomed to it that we forget the importance of the death and burial of our Lord. Yes, Jesus is God, but He still felt the pain and agony of being crucified, being separated from the Father, and dying for the sins of the world.

None of this was easy but rather painful and excruciating. Jesus suffered such a horrible death because of His great love for us. Through feelings of pain, agony, and abandonment, He still chose to die for us. Jesus’ love is unconditional and eternal.

His love for us will never change, alter, or waiver. Reading the account of Jesus’ distress in Matthew 27:46 can cause us to feel heartbroken for Christ. It can cause us to feel sad, and in anguish, because of the severe pain, the Lord went through for us.

Jesus did not deserve to die such a horrible death, yet he endured suffering in order to bring us back into a right relationship with the Father. In the present time, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, and He will return one day to rule the earth for 1,000 years.

After His 1,000-year reign, God will create the New Heaven and New Earth, which will be the home of righteousness. Never again will Jesus have to undergo suffering or pain again. His death on the cross is sufficient to save us from our sins.

Romans 6:10 says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” One day in the future, when we are with Christ, it is possible that the Lord will share with us His feelings as He hung on the cross for our sins.

He may even tell us the exact account of His words of “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani.” The Lord loves all people and He willingly died for us in order for us to live with Him forever in Paradise. Allow this to motivate you this year to share the gospel and to live for Jesus.

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