Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Jesus said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” on the cross. Did God really forsake Jesus on the cross?
The arguement goes like this: God can not look upon sin, but Jesus took our sins. Since Jesus took our sins upon himself God the Father abandoned him on the cross, because the Father can not look upon sin.
- Did God the Father abandon Jesus?
- Can God look upon sin?
- If God did abandon Jesus on the cross because of sin, does he abandon us as well?
- What implications are there for believing this?
- Do the scriptures back this view?
This argument did not sit right with me at first, but after thinking about the implications of this view I am convinced it is not a simple error, but rather a serious error.
Jesus’ statement from the cross is not random. It is a quote from Psalm 22:1. The whole psalm is divided into two parts. The first part is a cry of anquish during persecution. David’s ancestors trusted in God and were delivered (verse 4). David himself was persectued because of his trust in God and he is expressin his feeling of abandonment, but not by God, but by his persecutors. In verse 24 it is clear that God “has not abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has he hid is face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.”
The psalm when understood as a whole is not despair over being abandoned, but is a cry for help in which God comes to the rescue. It is the very opposite of abandonment. It is salvation and security.
But did a righteous, holy God, see sin on the cross and turn away? Can God be in the presence of sin?
This argument inevitably leads to a number of errors by implication. If you accept that God cannot look upon sin you must also accept other logical conclusions.
Implications that Lead to Error
- If God cannot look upon sin, God is not omnipresent.
- If God cannot look upon sin, then Jesus cannot be God.
- If God cannot look upon sin, then the Holy Spirit cannot dwell within a believer.
- If God cannot look upon sin, then the Holy Spirit must leave a believe every time he sins.
- If God cannot look upon sin, there can be no mediator between God and man.
- If God cannot look upon sin, then Jesus will forsake us and no one can be saved.
The scriptures themselves refute all of these errors. God is omnipresent and therefore always looking upon the sin of men. Jesus is God, the word made flesh who dwelt among men, therefore God was in the presence of sinful men. The Holy Spirit is God and dwells within the body of men who continue to sin. The Holy Spirit does not leave every time a believer sins, rather the promise is to never leave you or forsake you. Jesus is the mediator between God and men and the mediator intercedes with the Father because of your sin.
“Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and hodest they tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”
The quote from Habakkuk 1:13 seems to support the idea that God can not look upon evil. This verse must be understood in the context of delayed judgement, which is the subject of this chapter. All sin will be judged by God, but not all sin is judged immediately. This chapter actually is saying that God tolerates the presence of sin for a while, but that there will eventually be an accounting for iniquity.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This quote from 2 Corinthians seems to support the idea that Jesus was made sinful and therefore God abandoned him. The question is, “Can sin be transferred from one person to another. Ezekiel 18 refutes that sin can be transferred.
“Ezekiel 18:1 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”
The principle from Ezekiel 18 is this: All men are responsible for their own sin. Said another way. Sin can not be transferred from one person to another. So to remain consistent with already established teaching, Jesus on the cross did not become sinful, that is our sins were not transferred to him. In fact, the 2 Corinthians verse says exactly that, he “knew no sin.” 2 Corinthians is an illustration of the concept of “Imputed righteousness.” Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, therefore we are considered to be without sin, because that penalty has been paid. It is as if we never sinned and that Jesus was always a sinner. His righteousness is imputed to us. In reality though, we are sinners and Jesus is righteous but our sins are not counted against us–the debit has been paid.
So to answer the question. We our sins get transferred to Jesus, and did he come sinful? No. Did God the Father abandon Jesus on the cross? No. In fact, Psalm 22 is very conforting for when we cry out to God he will save us.