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My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
(Aramaic: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachathani?)
Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34
perhaps referred to in Lu. 23:46

A simple reading conveys the fact that there was a separation within the Trinity, but such a thought seems absolutely inconsistent with the Biblical presentation of the essence of the Trinity. Can such a concept be contemplated? Should such a concept be contemplated? If the answer to both of these questions is in the affirmative, then how is the thinking to be processed?

It must be stated that any thinking is tentative at best and perhaps heretical at worse. While speculation within the bounds of reason guided by Christian Revelation is acceptable, it must be realized that there are limitations. It is impossible for the finite to comprehend the Infinite, and to press the pursuit is sinful presumption.

Two observations are fundamental and without debate. One, the separation was not a metaphysical separation because the Trinity simply cannot be set aside without the Trinity ceasing to be the Trinity and revealing that it has never been the Trinity. The essential nature or essence of the Godhead is inviolable and cannot be changed; therefore, the separation cannot be understood in terms of a change within the eternal relationship of the Father and Son. Two, the separation was not an ethical separation or a moral separation in that the Son was guilty of personal sin or sins. In death the Son was doing the will of the Father, and the Father was pleased with the death of the Son. Love between the two was not lessened or suspended; in fact, one would think that the Father was never more pleased in the Son.

While insight is illusive, possibly the only acceptable supposition is that the separation was related to the transaction that occurred while Christ was on the cross. Statements in Scripture are instructive and may provide the basis for any understanding that is permitted:

The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6);

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us (II Cor. 5:21);

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (Gal. 3:13);

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (I Pet. 2:24).

Carefully consider the wording in the above verses and the implication of the wording: iniquity laid on Him; the One who knew no sin was made sin; Christ was made a curse; He carried our sin in His own body on the cross. In some incomprehensible manner the Son was identified with sin, while the Father did not experience such a dreadful identification. To write the previous sentence is to write what the mind does not understand, and to write with words that do not express the depth of the mystery. May the reader not be exercised over the choice of the words, “identified” and “identification”; the precise word is insignificant because it is merely an attempt to give some meaning, some insight, to that which cannot be seen in its fullness. If a better word comes to mind then use it.

But in the mystery of this “identification” is the basis/explanation/insight into the rending statement of the Son regarding being abandoned or forsaken by the Father. Surely in this divine transaction resides the cause/explanation/reason for the cry of Christ from the cross.

Consider the statement of Jesus in light of the context of Ps. 22, the passage that originally contains the wording. In the psalm the writer expresses abandonment but also expresses faith that God will show Himself strong in his behalf. The cry is the anguish of one who has suffered much with seemingly no relief. Thus it is a cry for assistance, for help, for strength in order to endure. In other words it is a statement to God imploring Him not to forget but to remember His child in the time of need. Perhaps the cry of one member of the Trinity to another member of the Trinity is a cry not to forget or to forsake the fact of the Trinity.

Finally Jesus proclaims: “It is finished!” (Jo. 19:30). And then He says: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit!” (Lu. 23:46). It must be noted that Jesus commits His spirit into the hand of the One who He had affirmed has abandoned Him. The Son had no one but the Father. So it is with us—we have no one but God.

With Job we affirm: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). Even though we may feel forsaken by God, and even though we may erroneously and sinfully blame God for circumstances, still there is no one for the believer but the Lord—children of the Father always run to the Father!

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