Why Have You Abandoned Me?

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So far as we have studied Jesus’ questions, we have looked at several questions he asked other people- questions which cut to the heart of the matter, which challenged them, which left them changed.

Today’s question is slightly different.  It is a question addressed to God- a cry from the heart as Jesus hung on the cross:  “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  (Matthew 27:46 NLT)

Like many of the other questions, it seems strange.  It’s understandable that Jesus would have felt abandoned as he hung on the cross, but he knew why he was doing it… and if he was God’s Son, fulfilling God’s plan, could God really have abandoned him?

As usual, when we look deeper, there is a lot we can learn from this question.

Firstly, it quotes the opening verse of Psalm 22.  Jesus’ intention could have been to remind people of this Psalm, which contains several references prophesying events that were taking place that Good Friday:

  • “Everyone who sees me mocks me.  They sneer and shake their heads, saying, “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?  Then let the Lord save him!”  (Psalm 22:7-8 NLT)
    “The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery…”If you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!””  (Matthew 27:39-40 NLT)
  • “They have pierced my hands and feet…They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.”  (Psalm 22:16,18 NLT)
    “After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothing by throwing dice.”  (Matthew 27:35 NLT)

To those who recognised the reference this could have been a clue that the terrible events of that day were not just a random set of circumstances, that what was happening to Jesus was not a mistake, but a crucial part of God’s plan.

Secondly, the question shows the weight of our sin and the severity of its consequences.  The separation and abandonment Jesus experienced on the cross was the punishment we deserved.  Jesus, who had lived a perfect life and always experienced perfect communion with the Father was now cut off from him because of our sin.

  • “When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.”  (Galatians 3:13 NLT)
  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

He took on himself the curse and he became sin.  The price he paid was high, but it was for us and our freedom.  Because of Jesus’ separation from God, that is something we never need to experience: “As a result he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him, without a single fault.”  (Colossians 1:22 NLT)

Finally, Jesus’ question shows us that it is okay to be honest with God.  We all have times when we feel alone and abandoned, and this reassures me that we can come to him with our pain, our disappointment, our fears and our questions.

After all, Jesus knew why he was suffering; he had willingly chosen to go to the cross.  But in that moment, in the midst of intense physical and emotional pain, this was the cry of his heart.  He felt alone and abandoned

Several years ago I took part in a school assembly as part of a team sharing a message about Easter.  Some pupils were chosen to take part in a challenge and the forfeit for the loser was to have an egg cracked over their head.  Just as the egg was about to be cracked over the head of the pupil, my part was to come from the back of the assembly hall and volunteer to take their place, as an illustration of Jesus’ sacrifice in taking our place on the cross.

I felt excited to be taking that role.  It seemed like a noble thing to do, a good thing, and it was a privilege to illustrate to the pupils what Jesus had done.  I knew why I was doing it but, in the moment, it felt very different from what I expected.  As I sat at the end of the assembly covered in egg, with members of school staff looking in disgust, the janitor angry at the mess, leaving me frightened to move in case I made it worse, I didn’t feel noble or honourable or that I had done a good thing.  I felt disgusting and shameful and dirty.

It was a horrible experience but it was also profound.  It opened my eyes in a new way to what it must have been like for Jesus and gave me the tiniest glimpse of what he experienced.  He knew why he was going to the cross and that it was to fulfil a good purpose but, in that moment, it must have seemed a distant thought in comparison to the present reality of agony and anguish, the jeering of the crowd and the pain of carrying the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders.

We all have moments when the pain is so great we struggle to see beyond it, when we know the truth but all we can feel is the pain.  This question encourages me that it is okay to cry out to God and express our feelings in the midst of the pain.

This week as we think about the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice, we remember the pain and suffering he endured and the magnitude of the price he paid for us, but we also remember all that it achieved and that, in the end, he concluded that it was worth it:

“When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.  And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”  (Isaiah 53:12 NLT)

Why have you abandoned me

This is part 7 of a series reflecting on questions Jesus asked.  Click to read the other posts:
What Do You Want Me To Do For You?
Do You Want To Get Well?
How Much Bread Do You Have?
Who Touched My Robe? 
Can Worry Add To Your Life?
Do You Believe That I Am Able To Do This?

Embracing Every Day  “God-Sized  Holly Barrett     purposefulfaith.com             Kristin Hill Taylor - Porch Stories

 

 

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40 thoughts on “Why Have You Abandoned Me?

  1. This line from Jesus breaks my heart. Whether He was truly abandoned by God for our sin or just felt like that overwhelms me. I can’t thank Him enough for His sacrifice. Thanks for such a wonderful post that points us to His great love. Praying your Easter is celebrated with a deep sense of His gracious goodness for you and that your blogging reach is increased for His glory!
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lesley! I read a reflection on this statement from Jesus, and it brought forward the point that the sin Jesus was carrying filled him with the flaws of humanity, crowding out the presence of God. That really stuck with me.
    I like the point that you made about being honest with God. Whatever I’m feeling, he can handle. And he knew I was going to feel it too.
    Nicole Nordeman has such a beautiful voice, thank you for sharing this touching song.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so incomprehensible that Jesus took that full impact of God forsaking Him all for us, so we never will be abandoned. It’s mind-blowing, isn’t it? There have been times in my life when I was in a deep state of despair and really believed God left me. It was awful. And then to think how that wasn’t even the tiniest fraction of how Jesus felt. I’m so grateful it is ok to cry out to God and express our feelings. Thank you for these encouraging thoughts, Lesley. Blessings and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is mind-blowing to think of all Jesus went through for us. It’s encouraging, when we feel abandoned, to know that he understands, and I love how his example shows us it is ok to be honest with God. Love and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So grateful for ALL Jesus went through for us! Love the last point you made: that Jesus’ words showed us it’s okay to be honest with God. The fact that Jesus felt abandoned and was honest about it reminds me that it’s not a sin to share the pain when I’m struggling. Another excellent article Lesley.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Lesley.

    There are times I feel abandoned, yeah. But I figure my job is to suck it up and carry on regardless, because feelings and fact are different, and since Jesus walked this road first I know I’m not abandoned.

    I’m merely expected to do my job, no excuses, no whinging.

    Mercs don’t cry.

    If you’re interested, I addressed Jesus’ words in my FMF post this week.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/04/your-dying-spouse-294-famous-last-words.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andrew. It is important to hold to the facts instead of just going with our feelings, but at the same time it’s comforting to know we can bring our feelings to God and express them honestly.
      I think next week’s post will be about crying! 🙂
      I’m coming to read your post now. Friday was crazy and I had no time to post or read this week.

      Like

  6. Thank you for your thoughts here, Lesley. I’d never heard that idea that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22–that’s how people named the Psalms back then, by the first line–until last year. It’s certainly an interesting thought. But yes, He bore our punishment and the separation from God that we deserve. May your week be blessed as you remember our Savior’s death and resurrection.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is profound, Leslie….
    I like this quote,’ The separation and abandonment Jesus experienced on the cross was the punishment we deserved’. It is double true!
    I love the story analogy you shared here. Likening your experience with that of Jesus…But with sin covering His innocent body, Jesus hung there and took our place instead…so much love.
    Thanks dear friend. I am grateful for this series!
    Hugs and Blessings to you

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lesley, your story about the cracked egg really spoke to me. Such a beautiful post, friend. it’s so true that we can think we know what we’re doing (noble and all that), especially when it’s for someone’s good. But sometimes, it’s in the doing, when we realize how very difficult it is to do good, to sacrifice for another. Thank you for the glimpse into some of what Jesus endured for each of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad it spoke to you, Jeanne. I was really surprised by how difficult it was to sacrifice, even in such a small way, and by how much people’s reactions bothered me, but it’s just a glimpse of what it must have been like for Jesus, hanging on the cross with people mocking and insulting him.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the insights you gained from the experience of getting the egg cracked on your head, Lesley. The way Jesus approached His death and handled the all the pain it entailed is fascinating, isn’t it? Fully God and yet fully man, with all the senses and emotions we finite humans experience. It’s amazing, but also so comforting to know that He did it all willingly, and that we can cry out to God just as He did. I hope you have a wonderful Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lois. It is fascinating to look at Jesus and how he lived as a human, while also being fully God. It is amazing to know that he chose to endure such suffering for us.
      Hope you have a wonderful Easter too!

      Like

  10. This is my favorite question. You did a beautiful job of showing us how Jesus in His humanness cried out “why did you abandon me”? but also the connection between that and God’s perfect plan.

    The week before Easter always calls to mind such deep reflection and for me I am always asking “why”? But in the asking I find the answer because as you said “The separation and abandonment Jesus experienced on the cross was the punishment we deserved.” That explains why we have been redeemed and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. You did a beautiful job with this post! Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a profound experience to play the part in that play. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed that role. ha. But the lessons you learned and are continuing to share from it make it all worthwhile! The “forsaking me” question has always been a troubling part of the death story, but each piece is critical. Thanks for breaking it down here for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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