Did God Forsake Jesus on the Cross?

It is a claim that is heard many times from many pulpits often in during the Lord’s Supper. Matthew 27:45ff says,

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He is calling Elijah.” (TNIV)

It seems pretty clear that Jesus understood himself as forsaken by God. Why else would he make a statement like that? There may be more to this passage than meets the eye. Here in Matthew Jesus is quoting the first line from Psalm 22. Jesus was known to have quoted a line of a psalm but the context of his statement and the content of the psalm he quotes clearly indicated that he was making reference to more than the part he cites. In modern English that is called a synechdoche where one part represents the whole. In John 2:17 Jesus quotes Psalm 69:9 but is clearly making reference to the entire psalm. That sets a precedent for Jesus using that style of speech at other times. But that alone is not significant enough.

Are there any markers in content of the gospels or the content/context of this psalm that might point to Jesus not being forsaken by God?


The gospel is very clear that Jesus and God were unified. In John 10:20 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” In John 15:10 Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” Clearly on the cross Jesus was being obedient to his Father’s commands. It would seem that in doing so Jesus would remain in God’s love.

On the other hand, refer back to the previous post on Galatians 3 to see that in essence Jesus could have been under a curse on the cross that put him outside of the covenant community temporarily but was restored through the resurrection.

Psalm 22:

There is evidence from the psalm itself that Christ was not forsaken on the cross. When you look at this psalm you notice that the the first 21 verses have many parallels to Jesus and his situation on the cross:

  • Being mocked and having insults hurled at him
  • No one to help
  • Surrounded
  • Poured out like water
  • pierced his hands and feet
  • Divide his clothes and cast lots for his garments

But can we say that the parallels between Jesus and the psalmist stop at verse 21? Could it be that Jesus only made reference to these verses but not what follows? Psalm 22:24 says,

“For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.”

Could it be that Jesus made reference to this verse as well using the same style of speaking as he did in citing Psalm 69:9 in John? So many have made the claim that God “turned his back on Jesus” or “turned his face from Jesus” but the rest of Psalm 22 states exactly the opposite of the Psalmist, “he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Ultimately through the resurrection we find that God did not forsake Jesus. Is he forsaken if only forsaken for a moment? How does this fit with Galatians 3 and the curse of the law?


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

41 Responses to Did God Forsake Jesus on the Cross?

  1. dannydodd says:

    You are making me think here Matt- thanks!

    I still remember the scene (very touching to me) in The Passion of the Christ where a single rain drop fell down as a tear from heaven as Jesus bowed his head and died.

    I am not sure God forsook His Son in that moment, but what an incredible amount of love did God have to allow him to be up there in the first place.

    • Terry Rivers says:

      God did not forsake Jesus on the cross! I would like to send you a copy of my sermon, “God works the night shift” in answer to the question, “Did God forsake Jesus on the Cross?”

      I prefer to sending it by USPS mail. If you are interested, please send me a mailing address.

      My address is 10060 Road 270, Union, MS 39365

      • Keith says:

        I am not sure I follow you. But please send the doc to 130 W. Turbo, San Antonio Texas 78216. My view is that “God’s forsaking” is misunderstood because most interpret this to mean that God turned His face, rather than God gave gave Jesus over to Satan and to men to do their worst to him. God did not give Jesus any advantages to avoid suffering. Jesus had to “be tempted in all ways” as we are and this would include men like Job whom God gave (His faithful servant) over to Satan and to rejecting men. Jesus could not bypass any trial in his work of identifying and proving and Atoning for us. God never turned his back, but he did turn off the water hose so to speak of privilaged protection and comforting grace. No one can say that Jesus had unfair advantage. The forsaking was more of a “releasing over to” and had nothing to do with God having ill feelings or disdain for the sin on Jesus. Gods perfect love and adoring affection was not diminished on bit. The case that God hates sin and loves to save sinners is clear thru-out the whole life of Christ including the Cross. Darkness is also used in the OT many places to represent judgment, therefore for 3 hours darkness ruled the skies, revealing that God had come to judge sin. Jesus prayed for the cup to be removed if it were possible but then said not my will but thine. Jesus drank the cup of Gods wrath. Jesus was not afraid to die or to take men’s worst, but he trembled at the thought of not experiencing Gods protecting, comforting, empowering full presence. Jesus was going to experience what Job did times a thousand. How many times did Job say “where are you and I remember when he was by me and so forth. God gave Job over to Satan to make a point to the world that Faith endures under the worst conditions. So it was with our Savior. It would hardly have been the ultimate test of Character had Jesus had a force field comfort from the Fathers presence. Jesus drank the cup to the dregs… even to the last drop showing that he loved God and men to the infinite apex of possibility. The point now is made that “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all good things”. If God went to the ultimate cost of saving us will He now stop at the smaller daily things? Will these petty needs which are far less tax His love? No God is more than willing to help us in our time of need. He will love us to the end, because Jesus’ infinite test and sacrifice is further glorified in how God responds in love to us. If God were to now fall short in loving us it would make a statement against Christ finished work. If God does not forgive one sin that you had as a believer then God his dishonoring something He would never dishonor….. Does that make sense?


    • Terry Rivers says:

      Check out the descriptive Greek words that tell how Jesus was proclaiming the words of Ps. 22.

  2. Bob says:

    Matt, actually the teaching is that “forsaken” means cut off or separated from God. In other words he actually experienced separation from God as we will if we die outside of Christ. I’ve looked at it this way. Jesus experienced separation from God for our sins in the same way that he became sin for us. He knew no sin but was made to be sin and in the same way he experienced separation. I think your exposition of Psalm 22 is good. To take it a bit further, David was considering the circumstances around him as evidence that God had forsaken him but in reality God was ever present and the psalm ends with a note of confidence. I think your on track with this. Don’t let anyone talk you out of this.

  3. bellissimanh says:

    Never looked at it this way. You make some very good points! Gonna have to go study now. Always a good thing 🙂

  4. neva says:

    I agree with you and Bob–that is what it says


  5. rogueminister says:

    It seems that on some level there must have been some severing in the relationship between the Father and the Son. I am not sure exactly how that works but if we understand Hell as the abscence of the prescence of God then Jesus experienced Hell when his Father’s prescence was somehow pulled away. At the same time though it shows the bond that they had because nothing could keep them seperated because of the eternally communal nature of the Trinity. That gives me hope that God can overcome the things that try to drive me away from Him and that He can bring me to be a part of that community no matter what the immediate situation looks like.

  6. Mark says:

    Hey Matt,

    I love Psalm 22. Whenever I find OT quotes in the NT, I am continually amazed at the rich connections that usually exist between the two when you read more of the OT text being quoted.

    Even though Psalm 22 is a song of grief, you’re right; it ends on a positive note. But why stop the comparison at Psalm 22? I wonder if Jesus continued on into Psalm 23? The LORD is my shepherd!

    That’s pure speculation, but it’s neat to think about. It seems that Jesus was using the Psalms to express his emotions to the Father, and was encouraging himself with Scriptures.

    Good post,

    Mark <

  7. Bob says:

    Matt, D. A. Carson and some other scholars have a “Commentary on the NT use of the OT.” They have an article on every OT quote or allusion in the NT. It is number one on my list and I will have it shortly. It might be interesting to find their take on how Psalm 22 is being used by the Gospel writers and Jesus in reference to his death on the cross.

  8. mattdabbs says:

    Danny, never give up on thinking! That would be a shame. What a touching scene that reminds us of the love of God.


    Let me know what you find out and if that book is any good.


    What a great question on Psalm 23. Never thought about that one.


    Great application and reminder. What a blessing to be made right with God!

  9. paperbag says:

    it is truly an interesting question..

  10. preacherman says:

    Great post and question.

  11. David says:

    here is a great video answer to the question My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCSCzJHBb38

  12. Sebastian Thomas says:

    While I don’t disagree with your noble attempt to connect with psalm 22, I strongly believe that there was a seperation or disconnection between the father and son. It is more of allowing the son to perform a perfect job as a redeemer. Or let’s put it this way, that this sepreration was inevitable for jesus to carry out his saving plan.

    What is more touching here is the love of father towards the mankind. God was forced to give up his son for a moment, in order to retain the mankind with him.

  13. mattdabbs says:


    I appreciate your thoughts and I understand that there is some tension between the psalm and views of why Jesus died, what happened on the cross, etc. Just one thing I wanted to say in response is that whether he was forsaken or not I would hardly say God was forced. It was certainly a choice that came through love. Love doesn’t force. Love chooses. Thanks for your comment.

  14. PastaBill says:

    Just pondering this myself. Been preaching, teaching for 30 years that God had to turn away from Jesus as he was loaded with all our sins – God can’t look at sin (but then how does He approach any of us? How does He love us first?) – Our sins separate us from God.

    When scripture tells us that Jesus was in “all ways tempted” just as we are, yet without committing sin – I assume that must include the temptation to believe that God has abandoned us, forsaken us. Perhaps we are witnessing that temptation of Christ in a very public venue. Satan’s temptation of Christ didn’t end on the 40th day in the wilderness. He returned at opportune times. Is this terrible afternoon on the cross the last great opportunity satan seizes to grind Jesus down?

    Bottom line on this so far (for me) is that I am convinced there is far more happening on the cross than we can comprehend. I don’t even understand my Blackberry let alone the depth of the work of redemption.

  15. I couldn’t agree more, matt.

  16. Guenter says:

    If Jesus was the second person of God, if “I and the Father are one”, if “..for whatever he (the Father) does, the Son does likewise.” how can the Father forsake the Son? Because if so, the Son would do likewise and forsake the Father.
    Secondly, God will not forsake any faithful and repenting sinner. How can He forsake Jesus who was sinless?
    Thirdly, Jesus is asking a question and is NOT making a statement.
    Conclusion: Psalm 22 all the way!

  17. Jeannie says:

    What about Isaiah 53? It is clear in that passage that the crucifixion is the means by which we, sinners, are saved by the sinless sacrifice of Christ. It is also clear that it is the Father who crushes Him. If all our sin were laid upon Him, the Holiness of God demands such a response. He would become “reviled” because of the sin He willingly took upon Himself. It would also make understandable why Jesus would ask that this cup be taken from Him. Pain and suffering were nothing to Him, separation from the Father is the cup to which He was referring.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Before going to Isaiah 53 how then would you make sense of Psalm 22:24 that says God specifically did not despise, disdain or turn from the afflicted one?

      In regard to Isa 53 and many other passages, you are right, the crucifixion was the means by which our sins are atoned for. No doubt about that! I would have to disagree that pain suffering were nothing to him. He was fully God and fully man. That fully man part means suffering really did hurt and it was not something he was looking forward to.

      However, he was looking forward to demonstrating his obedience to his father through his “glorification” ie the cross. That is where Jesus brought God glory by being obedient even to the point of death (see Phil 2:5-11 and John 17:2-5). He was put to death at the hands of wicked men but God raised him to life (Acts 2:23-24). That passage seems to say wicked mankind were the ones who crushed him but God did want him to submit to that in order to bring victory over sin and death. So I don’t know that I would say God crushed him. Wicked men did that but God used it for his own glory. Hope that makes sense.

      I think we have a real failure among many Christians in not really understanding what Jesus came to do. When he was crucified the full powers of hell were thrown against him. Yet through that he overcame sin and death because he had a greater authority due to his obedience to his father and due to his divinity. So I don’t see Jesus as someone who was forsaken by God on the cross. How could Jesus all the time say the cross was to bring glory and then during his crucifixion be reviled by his father? Doesn’t add up to me. Let me know what you think.

      • Terry Rivers says:

        Actually, the Greek word “inati” (used only 6 times in the NT) is a rhetorical question. It is not an interrogative!

        God did not forsake Jesus on the cross! I would like to send you a copy of my sermon, “God works the night shift” in answer to the question, “Did God forsake Jesus on the Cross?”

        I prefer to sending it by USPS mail. If you are interested, please send me a mailing address.

        My address is 10060 Road 270, Union, MS 39365

  18. Jeannie says:

    It is my understanding of atonement theology that each one of us has betrayed our God. Everything we have is a gift from Him, even the mere fact that we draw breath is because of His prevenient Grace. Instead of living thankful lives, we demand from Him, we turn from Him, we disobey Him and choose other things over Him. We act like Benedict Arnold to Him in the cosmic war against the enemy of our soul. Just like a traitor to our nation in the time of war, we have earned a death sentence by our treason; and not just any death, the death that Jesus suffered. I’m not just talking about the scourging, the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the falling face first into the dirt while being ridiculed and spat upon, and then the nailing to the tree for three hours of asphyxiation. That is some brutal stuff, and if you’ve ever seen the Passion of the Christ, you’ve got a pretty accurate perspective on that. What I am talking about is the actual death. Jesus took upon himself what we earned, all our wages, every sin (large and small), and every single death. He was so covered in what you and I have done and will continue to do that God’s could not behold it. We seem to forget the immense Holiness of God. Because our sins were heaped upon Jesus, His appearance became so repugnant to God the Father that He turned His face from Jesus. [see Isaiah 59:2 [y]our iniquities have separated you and your God, your sins have hid His face from you; I Peter 2:21-24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed; 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. I disagree that Isaiah 53 is talking about wicked men. I think also it is clear that it is the Father who crushed Jesus for our sins—If it were not for the intolerableness of our sin heaped upon Christ, how could a loving God ever crush His innocent son? Jesus experience what we will never have to experience, God turned from Him so that Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
    While you and I have betrayed God and deserve to be shunned, Jesus takes what we have earned and gives us what He earned so that we will never ever have to experience God turning His face from us, not ever, not once. Jesus was like us in every way but one. We did not have to project our humanness onto him, He took it upon Himself. Then He lived a life that was 100% loyal to the Father, completely honorable service above the call of duty. He never once betrayed God. Jesus earned the opposite of what you and I have earned. He earned life and that is exactly what He gives us. He gives us His resurrection, His victory over death, His life, His Spirit. We get what He earned, His heritage; we become heirs of God, adopted children of the most High!

    • mattdabbs says:


      Thank you again for your thoughtful comment. I can tell you have thought a lot about this and I respect the fact that you are really willing to be informed by scripture on this issue as you have quoted several really good scriptures.

      I really want to be sure that we don’t end up talking past each other on this one. I see that happen so many times here where comments back and forth are not at all a dialog because people aren’t addressing each other’s points. So let’s slow this down.

      First, let’s talk about what you do with Psalm 22:24 that says God specifically did not despise, disdain or turn from the afflicted one? That is the same psalm that is so specific about the kind of death Jesus would die and where the “forsaken” verses Jesus quotes comes from. Can you tell me how you would handle that verse or how to make sense of it from your point of view? Here it is,

      “24 For he has not despised or disdained
      the suffering of the afflicted one;
      he has not hidden his face from him
      but has listened to his cry for help.”

      Let’s discuss that first and then go on to discuss other scriptures that have been brought up. Thanks!

    • Terry Rivers says:

      God did not forsake nor hide his face from Jesus on the Cross!

      Not only does Psalms 22 show that God did not forsake the affliction of the afflicted, so does Isaiah 53:3. In the margin of the 1611 KJV the translators give an alternate translation from the Hebrew which is the very opposite of other translations. It shows that God hid the face of Jesus from the us (the eyes of sinful men). The Jewish translation (the TANAKH) agrees.

      God did not forsake Jesus on the cross! I would like to send you a copy of my sermon, “God works the night shift” in answer to the question, “Did God forsake Jesus on the Cross?”

      I prefer sending it by USPS mail. If you are interested, please send me a mailing address.

      My address is 10060 Road 270, Union, MS 39365

  19. Dave says:

    On one hand, there is Ps 22:24, not to mention countless other passages of scripture which allude to the faithfulness of God for the afflicted. God abandoning Christ in His greatest moment of need seems incomprehensible and contrary to His very character.

    However, on the other hand, if our punishment for our sins is eternal separation from God in hell, then how can one take that punishment and not suffer (even if for a moment) a period of time of separation from God? Denying that God turned his back on Christ seems to belittle and diminish the depth of Christ’s suffering.

    The more I consider this issue, the more I am inclined to think both viewpoints have merit.

  20. Heidi says:

    Hello, I came across your postings while researching for a Bible study. I too, am wondering about the separation of Christ from God at the moment that the sins of man were placed upon Him. As I pondered all of your thoughts and accompanying scripture, I thought hard about Isaiah 59. Specifically Isaiah 59:1-2 (1)”Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear to dull to hear. (2) But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Do these verses not stand to reason that it is our sins that cloud our vision of Him and not the other way around? His arm is not too short to save and His ear not to dull to hear, but in the midst of our sin WE are the ones whose ears become dull to the hearing of God’s voice and whose vision becomes so clouded, so much so that we cannot see His face. Therefore does it not make sense that the separation from God is felt by us, but not by Him, not a reality. Could it therefore be, that Christ Himself felt separation from God while under the enormous weight of our sins in that brief moment? How far we feel from God when we are in the midst of our own sins. How much more so would one feel if they were taking on the sins of the whole world? Just a thought. Would love to hear yours!

    • mattdabbs says:

      I would think separation would be more of a reality than a just a feeling. If we are separated then we are separated. It is not just feeling separated. How does this work in the New Testament when we have God’s Spirit living inside of us and then we sin? It is not as if his Spirit leaves us every time we sin. These are hard things to wrap our minds around but it is certainly worth a try!

    • Ralph Doiron says:

      Let us note that God did not hide for Adam after that Adam had sinned, but Adam hid from God. We must understand that the fleshly part of Jesus was feeling the emotions that we often feel–separation from God. Since Jesus had to endure all the temptations that are common to man, he had to face this temptation as well, yet without sin. He became a sacrifice for our sins, not a sinner.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Thanks for sharing Ralph…There was a recent post here about God’s interaction with Adam in the garden that parallels some of what you are saying. It is a great connection back to this post. Thank you!

  21. KeithWitt says:

    I wrote the following article this morning. I don’t claim to have all the answers but am working thru this subject at this time: Sorry it is so long…

    Did God forsake Jesus?
    Most of us have heard that God forsook Jesus on the cross because God is too holy to behold sin; therefore he turned his back on Jesus—hence he forsook Him. I would like to contend with this view in the following essay. Lets read the text.
    Matthew 27:46
    About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
    Now consider the verses that contradict this conclusion.
    John 10:30
    “I and my Father are one.”
    John 16:32
    “You [disciples] will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
    2 Corinthians 5:19
    “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”
    Psalm 22:24 (NAS)
    For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
    Nor has He hidden His face from him;
    But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
    Some say that Jesus became sin so God had to turn his back. They take this from 2 Cor 5: 21. I found the following on a web site and found it worthy to consider, but not conclusive.

    “2 Corinthians 5:21, which in the NIV reads, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” But an accompanying note indicates that another way to translate the phrase “be sin for us” is “be a sin offering.”
    The NIV translators recognized that because of the semantic range of the Greek word for “sin,” hamartia, it can be used (by the figure of speech Metonymy) to mean “a sin offering.” Thus, they translate hamartia in Romans 8:3 as follows: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.”
    Hebrews 10:5 and 6 are especially relevant: “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased’” (See also 6:8 and 13:11). These verses show that the Old Testament sin offerings, the best God could do for His people at that time, simply pointed to the coming of the only one who could sacrifice his own body as a once-and-for-all sin offering”.

    Most translations insist on the term “became sin” or to NAS says “to be sin in our behalf”. Apparently there are some difficulties in making this text translate “sin offering” even though this is a truth stated elsewhere in scripture. All the commentaries do confirm that Jesus did not become a sinner, but sin was placed on him in our behalf. O.K. let it stand that way, and you still don’t have any justifiable reason to say God could not look at sin so he let Jesus go it alone or God turned his back on sin. God did not forsake Adam or Cain, or David with Bathsheba, did he? So why would he forsake Jesus who always did the will of the Father? And if God forsakes due to sins presence, then how many minutes a year would you enjoy God ( = perhaps 0)? Here is my understanding of what Christ meant by the statement “why have you forsaken me”.

    ‘Why Have You Forsaken Me’ Statement Considerations
    The term “why have you” could have been given for 2 possible reasons
    a. Jesus was ignorant and clueless and needed to know why God was doing this? Not likely!!!
    b. This is a common cry of the heart that shows the emotion of the heart, even though the answer is clear…..hence it is a rhetorical question. If a woman died from cancer or a bullet to the heart the lover could cry why have you left me and no one would surmise that he was clueless about the bullet that killed her. No anyone beholding this would instantly understand that the heart was speaking and bleeding in upper limits of expressive pain. The heart can say things that express the innermost groans, which are not at that moment meant to be theological statements, but human expressions. Don’t make the mistake that many do when we over Deify Jesus to the point where we forget that Jesus was one of us.

    He expressed our pain and this “why” makes it clear that His Human Heart was reaching its limits in human suffering.
    How many times in the Psalms does David say “Why have you” and or “Where are you”? David was not doubting Gods character in most of these instances. No, he was expressing pain in a human way and with Hebraic expression. The heart says many things that express emotional stress and pain and are not statements of stupidity or doubt.

    Have You Forsaken Me
    I checked the word ‘forsaken’ from at least 5 different Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and they all say the word includes the meaning of “being left behind” and therefore include could include “being given over to something” and thus abandoned to that thing. This makes complete sense if you consider the facts. Before this dark day no one could touch Jesus because he had as it were a force field around Him. You couldn’t have touched him unless the sovereign God let you. They tried to grab him and throw him off of the hill at one point, but he passed through them and likewise when they took up stones to kill him and elsewhere he just moved on with sovereign protection> John 8: 59, John 10: 39, Luke 4: 29 also consider:
    John 7:30 (KJV)
    30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

    John 8:20 (NAS)
    20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

    The term :”not yet come” indicates that there is a sovereign timetable that no man can thwart. He was not given over to the hands of wicked men and no one had the right or power to make a move to do so until that time. There is coming a time when God will release Jesus over and they will do what they wish to him (within Gods permitted sovereignty). God will eventually give Jesus over to Satan who is working thru the hands of evil men.

    Matthew 17:11–12 (NKJV)
    11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”

    The bottom line is that Jesus is heading to the cross were they will do to him what they wish. They will not have this man reign over them, so they will have him crucified. But keep in mind that God has ordained (by His design and power) this process.

    Acts 2:23 (NKJV)
    23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
    Acts 2:23 (NAS)
    23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

    God ordained it, but they did it. God uses wicked men for His Own Glory. God gave Jesus over to them to work what they wished in their evil hearts for the redemption of mankind. That said, God gave Jesus over to Satan; hence he forsook him or perhaps better said “Gave him over to”. Remember as I previously stated that the term “forsaken” means to leave behind or to give over to. So the term “why have you” is rhetorical expressing his human emotion of pain from the separation of God the Fathers protection from these wicked men and the term “forsaken me” is simply stating the fact of being in this state of being released into the hands of Godless men. God handed him over. He did not turn from him.

    Why most bible teachers insist on God turned his back on Jesus because he was made sin? This is a travesty and poor bible hermeneutics to say the least.

    Yes Jesus was God, but he was also was 100% human and felt the pain and loneliness of the situation even though God did not forsake him but was with him every second and never left his side. Jesus said he would never forsake Him and Psalms 22, which foreshadows this gives great detail to this coming event and says with 100% certainty that God will not forsake him or turn his back on him.

    Psalm 22:24 (NAS)
    For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
    Nor has He hidden His face from him;
    But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

    What part of “Nor has He hidden His face from him, don’t we understand?

    God did not turn His face from the sin placed on Jesus. God did not have bad feelings about what Jesus became. God did not walk away. God did not look the other way. God never took away his complete presence at any time. Why must we impugn God’s perfect character, love and goodness in order to interpret this text?

    Another consideration is what Hebrews says:

    Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
    15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

    The Son of God came to identify with man and to show the way through “the points of temptation and trial”. He felt our pains and sufferings in each and every kind of trial. Some may say “sure he didn’t fall because he was God in the flesh and it’s kinda hard to mess us when you are God. But consider that Jesus was human to the full degree and suffered from “all” our types of trials. Now, up to the point of the cross, he had never suffered separation from Gods protection.

    He had never felt as it were “the force field removed”. This no doubt had formerly given Him great comfort and assurance, and at the cross it was for the most part removed. The comfort of this is gone. He now feels the absence of something that has always been. God is there but not in the full active protective roll He has always enjoyed. This connotation of “forsaken” fits the narrative. The connotation of “given over to or left behind” fits the narrative. Released to their hands fits, but abandoned because God can’t stand sin does not fit. Jesus had to suffer at all points as we and this new point (of partial) separation had to be endured as well to fulfill His identification for us, so that he could operate as a High Priest who could be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. There are times of God’s separation. These are test given to reveal who we truly are—our real substance and character apart from perhaps the Holy Spirits full presence. Does God draw back from us to test people?

    Job 2:3–6 (NAS)
    3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”
    4 Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.
    5 “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.”
    6 So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”

    2 Chronicles 32:31 (NKJV)
    31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

    Satan made the point as follows: “does Job serve God for naught”. Sure he worships you and does righteousness; look at the hedge and the blessings. But if you take all that protection away he will curse you”. Job never cursed God, but he did buckle under the pressure with accusations at times. Jesus on the other hand was given a far worse trial and did not buckle or flinch. The trial was needed as an opportunity to reveal His flawless character and reflect the power of Faith. God’s glory is the issue not a cushy lifestyle with God’s force field of protection on at full blast.

    As we just read in 2 Chronicles 32 God withdrew from Hezekiah so that God could reveal what was in his heart and it was not good. Hezekiah showed off all the treasures in the house of God out of pride. When God draws back he may remove some of His restraining grace—His caution alarm if you please; and who you are will flow thru your auto-pilot heart. This happened to Job and Hezekiah and both were not flawless by a long shot. But in contrast Jesus proved holy, harmless and undefiled in character to the infinite degree. You and I have the same trial at times, albeit to a lesser degree, but we have Jesus as a sympathetic high priest and additionally we have the Holy Spirit as restrainer and comforter at the same time.
    Thank God that Jesus went through these painful trials in your behalf. We have Jesus as our example. He is the author and finisher of our faith whom we are to look to for our identifiable example. He passed all the tests even the test of unrestrained evil from men. He was given over to Satan and wicked men and yet he hung on that cross despising the shame in your behalf. In the full degree of humanity he suffered without unfair advantage, having at his side His father and up to 12 legions of angels ready to rescue and destroy. God his father was not in the kitchen making a sandwich because His now ugly son could not be looked at. No the father was surely more broken hearted and saddened than we would have been if our loved one was going thru this torment. Yet it pleased the father to bruise Him in our behalf. What kind of God have we created in our imaginations that would turn from His own Son in the greatest hour of His obedience and suffering? We need to rethink this traditional teaching if we are to rest in His saving grace and love.

    Keith Witt

    • Terry Rivers says:

      There are only two reason why anyone would even think that God (doesn’t say the Father) forsook Jesus on the cross. (1) The darkness and (2) Jesus disturbing words “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?”

      What was the darkness for? Lehman Strauss writes that “darkness is everywhere in Scripture symbolic of evil.” Is it?

      God spoke on Mt. Sinai from the darkness. God covered the tabernacle in darkness. Darkness filled the Temple the day Solomon said, “God dwells in the darkness.”

      When the veil in the temple was rent, the darkness from the Holy of Holies poured out upon the earth to hide the face of Jesus from the eyes of sinful men.

      We know what Jesus said but the question we should ask is, “how did Jesus say it?” The Greek N T shows that Jesus “cried with a shout of encouragement, a call of jubilation.” Matthews gospel shows that Jesus cried repeatedly the words of the song of David.

      Jesus reminded his enemies that God would not despise and forsake them. Jesus had prayed, “Father forgive them,” and Psalm 22 was their invitatiion song.

      God did not forsake nor hide his face from Jesus on the Cross!

      Not only does Psalms 22 show that God did not forsake the affliction of the afflicted, so does Isaiah 53:3. In the margin of the 1611 KJV the translators give an alternate translation from the Hebrew which is the very opposite of other translations. It shows that God hid the face of Jesus from the us (the eyes of sinful men). The Jewish translation (the TANAKH) agrees.

      God did not forsake Jesus on the cross! I would like to send you a copy of my sermon, “God works the night shift” in answer to the question, “Did God forsake Jesus on the Cross?”

      I prefer sending it by USPS mail. If you are interested, please send me a mailing address.

      My address is 10060 Road 270, Union, MS 39365

  22. Jeff says:

    Great job on this Keith. We might also consider who was around that heard Jesus ask this. These men knew and belived the scriptures. Would you agree that Jesus made this statement for their benefit and that some, at that point may have understood what they had done? Wow, if God turned his back on Jesus, what chance do we stand? I will never leave you or forsake you. I’m counting on that.

  23. keithwitt says:

    There is a good chance for sure. They did call for the psalm, by the opening words instead of Psalms 22 they would say let us read “My God My God why have you forsaken me”. Hence the declaration was true in time, but additionally it was a calling for the whole Psalm. What I would say to those who declare God turned away from His own Son is “where does it say that”? That is at best guess work or conjecturing the scriptures. The bible does not say what they claim it means—nowhere!!!!. So what does the bible say in regards to God forsaking/abandoning/giving over? It only says that God turned him over to wicked men for our redemption. God did forsake him over to wicked men out of love for me and you. That truth does not need human conjecturing to make sense. It complements Gods character of love, grace, mercy, goodness, and compassions. The alternative seems to corrupt our sense of what a good father would do for his own child. Would you walk away from your child who was dieing at your will to help save others (I hope not). To think He would makes us struggle with the unconditional love he calls us to live by. If God was cold & rejecting to Jesus then should we be that way to each other and to the unsaved? No! Jesus said love your enemies and to do good. This doctrine seems to me to corrupt Gods Character and sends a message that does not jive with what God has called up to do and be.

    I agree with you “what chance do we have” and I am counting on that too. If anything we have underestimated the incomprehensible infinite love of God displayed in Christ on the Cross. It was like an atomic bomb of love and light expressing Gods goodness and compassion. The doctrine of an abandoning Father corrupts the intended impact and undermines the very message that was meant draw men to Him.


  24. Kim says:

    My father was a minister for over 40 yrs, and he firmly believed God did not forsake Christ on the cross. He cited the original language when he discussed this topic, which states, “Why hang any longer?”. He received much criticism from other preachers because he would not agree with them, but he refused to preach a lie. In the end, God honored my father’s faith, and the critics were silenced (incredible story far too long for here). Thank you for letting the Spirit guide you, rather than man, and for having the courage to teach the truth.

    • Keith says:

      It is beyond us to understand the infinate degrees of Gods atributes of Love and Justice ( His hatred and reaction to sin). When we observe the Cross we should be careful to not compremise either. God did forsake Jesus by forsaking him over to men and satan, but not as they assume, by turning his back with a bitter attitude towards His own Son. God’s love never altered. How could it? Many of these teachings seem to undermine the very unity of God.

  25. Jim Butler says:


    Ditto, Ditto, and constant Ditto…Your understanding not only shows your true relationship and understanding of your Lord and Savior and of the Word, it demonstrates your full understanding of Gods Mercy, Grace and understanding of the Gospel message. I would say WOW to you and say keep it up my brother. You give me hope that there still remains a remnant of those that seek, find and teach the truth unadulterated without fear in all faith.

    Don’t take me wrong with my Kudos’ to you as I give God by His Holy Spirit all praise for your understanding and rendering the legitimacy in this article, however, I must on no account detract from the jubilation in heaven over even one of His earthly children that might articulate His resounding truth even in light of potential retribution of today’s Pharisee’s, the hypocrites of this day and time reminiscent of the offensive past judgment imposed Him; the ones that even after such proof would still rebuke in light of such substantiation, corroboration, validation, authentication, unequivocal, indisputable evidence that in any sagacity, prudence and level-headedness could leave no man in hesitation, reservation, disbelief, qualm, doubt, consternation or trepidation concerning unadulterated certainty.

    Need I say more than what has been said by you and the many other’s here that have agreed.

    I will say that I once heard in another internet commentary and as it was interrelated to in one of the above post by “Mark” that Jesus citation of Psalm 22 was not only significant of Gods giving Him over to sinful men and to read on in the text that God would never turn from Him or keep Him from His HOLD; I must dare say that the Jew’s present would have heard the Psalm and been familiar with it and pondered that this “truely must be the Son of God” as while even in death, Christ not only praised God in Psalm but must have placed a Holy conviction apon those present as they said “not yet does this men endure what we have put upon Him, but even in death He still praises God in Psalm.” It must have burned within their hearts as they heard this Psalm from a person they considered one who had BLASPHEMED and they had rejected. At once they were made in the twinkling of an eye to reconsider their position as no man but “The Christ; the true Messiah and Son of God” could have done such a thing in light of the circumstance.

    Once again Ralph, in spite of my rambling, and even in lieu of it, RIGHT ON!

  26. the1seer says:

    I believe Jesus was God. That Jesus and the Father are One. And therefore, as One, could not and cannot be separated in any way, shape or form. When God the Father said, “I will provide MYSELF a sacrifice . . .” He meant it! He, as His son Jesus, was on the cross. He put Himself there, “No man takes My life, I lay it down” Only God could do that. Taking on and becoming sin was extremely emotionally painful for Him. So painful that even the very thought and anticipation of it caused Him to sweat blood. To become the very thing He despises, ONLY He can do that. “I will NEVER leave YOU or forsake YOU.” And “Lo, though I make my bed in hell You are with me.” I believe God the Father was never closer to Jesus (if that’s possible) than when He was on the cross committing His most ultimate act of love. God can take anything and He sure proved it that day.

    • contend77 says:

      I couldn’t agree more. God forsook him not as some suppose “by abandoning him because he was sin”–that is ridiculous. The word forsake can mean to step back from or to give over to. God did step back by giving Jesus over to Satan who was working through men to do their worst to Him. In that sense God gave Jesus over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. That was not the big pain Jesus suffered from, but rather what we can’t imagine–God’s wrath being poured out His own beloved Son for our wicked sins. How can we ever distrust God again when we see that kind of love? I agree with you wholeheartedly that God was never closer to Jesus in His love and admiration than when He was in obedience giving His life to vindicate the Fathers own Name. You see, God had said “ye shall surely die” and He had many times shown mercy, but mercy that does not have a payment is unholy and God’s righteous justice did not get satisfied. Jesus had to die on the cross to vindicate and honor the Father’s Name or God would be found unholy. We tend to see the cross first and foremost for our benefit only, but God’s Glory always trumps mans issues. Jesus was dying first and foremost for God His Father….What kind of Father figure do they paint when they say ” God can’t look on sin” and therefore….. Sorry I don’t buy it. Thanks for your awesome post.


  27. M. Love says:

    Look up the word, REMEZ

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