The Unbreakable Bond Between the Father and the Son and You

Understanding the Red Letters   Part 24

When Jesus called out these words from the cross, He spoke in Aramaic, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani.”  Some in the crowd thought that Jesus was calling for Elijah (Mark 15:35).  Translated into English, we have the well-known, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

We have been taught that Jesus spoke these words on the cross because God the Father turned His back on His Son.  While the weight of the world’s sin was upon Jesus’ shoulders, God the Father abandoned the Son.  Is this really true?  I don’t think so.

The bond between the Father and the Son is unbreakable.  I don’t believe that there was ever any separation between them.  We have no support in Scripture that “The Father and I are one” was ever broken.  I don’t believe there is any reason to think that God abandoned the Son even as He became sin for us on the cross.

So what was Jesus saying from the cross?  Jesus was speaking line one from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1).  The rest of this Psalm is a stunning prophecy of what His death would be like with passages like, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart is like wax; it is melted within me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws.  You lay me in the dust of death.  For dogs have surrounded me.  A band of evildoers has encompassed me.  They pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones.  They look, they stare at me.  They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:14-18).  Wow, does that sound like a description of the death of Jesus?

It has been suggested that in first century Israel, it was a common practice for a rabbi to speak the first line of a Psalm and expect his students to recite the rest.  Could this be happening here?  Could Jesus be saying from the cross, “For those with ears to hear, I am pointing you to the prophecy of Psalm 22; and in My death, I am its fulfillment”?

With or without this view, it does not diminish the suffering that Jesus experienced on the cross.  It is totally expected that Jesus felt abandoned by the Father.  He was suffering greatly.  He was at death’s doorstep in brutal pain.  And it was Jesus’ last test of obedience as He suffered.

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:7-9).  On the cross, in the depth of His suffering, Jesus passed His last test of obedience.  “He learned obedience” does not mean Jesus was lacking and needed to “learn” something.  It means that Jesus was tested regarding obedience and passed the final exam on the cross.

Just as the Psalmist in Psalm 22 felt that God had abandoned him, so Jesus, in the dying of His human form, likely felt that God had turned His back on Him in that moment.  However, by the end of Psalm 22, we find that God had been protecting the writer all along.  “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” (Psalm 22:24).  I especially like the phrase that God has NOT hidden His face from the afflicted.  God did not turn His back on the Son.  I believe God the Father was there with the Son at the cross.

So what lesson is here for us?  We have been taught that God turned His back on His Son because He could not look upon sin.  But that doesn’t square with the rest of Scripture.  God pursued Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned.  Jesus, God in the flesh, was a “friend of sinners”.  He dined with, visited with, and called sinners.  Sometimes, He even invited Himself to their house (Zacchaeus).

And God and Jesus can look upon you in your sin.  When we sin, Jesus does not withdraw from us.  Our fellowship with God is not broken.  Jesus is with us when we sin.  Jesus is with us in our sin.  And He is holding up a way out of our sin.  He is there to walk us out of our sin.  He is there to say, “This isn’t who you are, My child.  Come with Me to the path of righteousness.”  God is not turning His nose up at your sin.  He came to save you from it.  And He will never give up on you.  Your union with Him is unbreakable!

How can I be so sure? God has given us this promise that you can take to the bank, “I will NEVER desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).