DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Did Jesus think God had abandoned him when he was crucified? I’ve never really understood why Jesus thought God had forsaken him, and I wondered about it again this Easter. Was Jesus doubting God? — K.R.
DEAR K.R.: You’re referring to what was almost Jesus’ last statement during his crucifixion, perhaps only minutes before his death. His body had been nailed to a rough wooden cross, and undoubtedly he was enduring almost unimaginable pain. The Bible says he “cried out in a loud voice… ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34).
No, Jesus wasn’t doubting God; he still referred to him as “My God.” But Jesus was shrinking back from the horror he was about to experience, a horror you and I can barely imagine. Remember: Jesus was completely innocent, not just of the sin he was accused of committing that led to his condemnation by Pilate, but of all sin. On the cross, all our sins were transferred to him, and he was about to take upon himself the judgment that you and I deserve for our sins.
What would that mean? First, it would mean that Jesus would be separated from God, his father. The unbroken fellowship that he had enjoyed with God from all eternity was about to be shattered, for sin cannot exist in God’s holy presence. Second, Jesus was about to endure God’s judgment against sin, the judgment of hell that you and I deserve.
Don’t take lightly what Jesus Christ has done for you. Instead, thank him for taking upon himself all your sins, and enduring God’s judgment in your place.
The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
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