If Jesus Is God, Why Did He Cry Out on the Cross “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

The Old Testament had foretold that God would come to earth as a child to be our Savior and Lord (Isaiah 9:6). It also foretold that this Savior, or Messiah, would suffer horribly as he took upon himself the sins of the world. So in some miraculous way, the Messiah would be both God and man. Several prophecies foretold that his suffering would be almost unbearable. Jesus claimed that he was that Messiah.

Jesus cried out to his Father in fulfillment of Psalm 22:1, which prophesied that the Messiah would cry out during his suffering on the cross for sin. The things Jesus did and said were done in fulfillment of over 300 Old Testament prophecies. Jesus’ cry to his Father was part of God’s plan in redeeming us from our sins. Jesus knew how greatly he would suffer before he left heaven as God to put on human flesh.

Jesus willingly stepped down from his lofty position in heaven to become one of us. As a perfect man he became our High Priest, suffering on the cross and experiencing all the anguish and pain any other man would experience. As our perfect High Priest, Jesus took upon himself God’s full wrath for our sin. The author of Hebrews explains how Jesus’ moral perfection qualified him to be our Savior:

Here is the High Priest we need. A man who is holy, faultless, unstained, beyond the very reach of sin and lifted to the very Heavens…. He made one sacrifice, once for all, when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:26, 27, J. B. Phillips)

At the moment he took our sins on his body, Jesus temporarily was separated from the fellowship he had experienced with his Father throughout eternity. It was during that dark time of loneliness that Jesus cried out in great agony as he experienced—for the first time in all eternity—this broken fellowship. The apostle Paul explains:

For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. (Philippians 2:5-9, J. B. Phillips)

This leads us to the question of “Why?”. Why would Jesus knowingly put on human flesh to suffer the worst torture imaginable? We are given the answer in the New Testament that his suffering was done from a heart of love—for us!

For further reading about how Jesus’ death affects you personally, see the Y-Jesus article Is Jesus Relevant Today?