The Lord Jesus uttered seven phrases from the cross. The middle phrase was the shuddering cry of desolation and devastation, spoken in a loud voice: “My God, my God why hath thou forsaken me?” (See Matthew 22:46 and Mark 15:34) It is significant what precedes and follows this cry. The first phrase Jesus uttered was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus’ final statement, spoken again in a loud voice was, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Between these two cries there is Emmanuel crying out, once again loudly, to his Father: “My God, my God.” The apostle John is actually the only author of the Gospels who mentions Jesus adding here, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
We should also note the two instances where the Lord was offered a drink while on the cross. “The Lord said, ‘I thirst.’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.” (John 19:28-29) Then Jesus is offered “vinegar to drink mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” (Matthew 27:34) It has been suggested that this combination of vinegar and gall could have been somewhat of a pain reliever, a stupefying potion, or an opiate that would ease the physical suffering of Jesus. Yet Jesus refused to drink the mixture.
In this scene on Calvary we should also note Jesus’ evident loneliness on the cross, because Jesus appeared quite alone during this experience. For example, Matthew 27:27-40 tells of how “the soldiers mocked Him” and “the people ridiculed Him.” In Matthew 27:41-44, “the scribes taunted Him,” and “the thieves despised Him.” Previously, Jesus had pointed out His critics, saying, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19) He was declared a blasphemer and an imposter, and yet He was a friend to all. The people, the ones He came to save, had betrayed Him and crucified Him.
Psalm 69 presents the Lord’s broken heart in His death: “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none…they hated Me without a cause.” Let us also note what others said of the Messiah’s innocence. In Luke 8:25, Jesus’ audience marveled at Him and asked one another, “What manner of man is this?” Judas said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) Even Pontius Pilate’s wife exhorted her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just man” and then Pilate later claimed, “I find no fault in Him” and washed his hands of the matter to declare his own innocence. (See Matthew 27:19 and John 18:38) On the cross, the dying thief proclaimed, “He has done nothing amiss” and the centurion witnessing Jesus’ death declared, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Luke 23:41 and Matthew 27:54) So when Jesus cried out, “Why hath thou forsaken me?” this was the first and only time this question was ever asked. At this point an eternal unbroken communion was broken. This communion between the Son and the Father is unfathomable and unexplainable to us!
We should also ask ourselves when the cry was made. Was it during the hours of darkness? Matthew 27:46 identifies the time as the ninth hour (at nighttime) when Jesus cried out. For this reason, some scholars believe that the word “hast” could be replaced with the word “didst” thou forsake me?” signifying that Jesus had already been forsaken as a past event. Indeed, it was no new experience for the Lord to be forsaken. Several times the religious leaders had tried to kill Him. His brothers, His nation, and many followers did not walk along with Him. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the disciples forsook Him. Up until this time, although men had continually forsaken Him, He had always been able to turn to His Father for help. However, this refuge was denied on the cross. His Father had forsaken Him, for God is a holy and uncompromising God, demanding the full price for the redemption of mankind. The Lord Jesus was left alone, abandoned, and ultimately forsaken, all for our sakes.