Matthew 27:46 - Preparation for Easter - step 4.
Behold The Lamb Of God
Mat 27:46 (KJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a
loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
This is the fourth of seven utterances of Jesus as He hung upon
the cross, sometimes called the Seven Words. No gospel writer
mentions more than three, nor less than one, of these utterances.
Arranged in point of time the seven "utterances" are as follows:
1. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (v. 34).
2. "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in
paradise" (v. 43).
3. "Woman, behold thy son! ... Behold thy mother!" (see on John
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46;
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is finished" (see on John 19:30).
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (see on Luke
23:46). [SDA Commentary]
The Gospels report seven utterances by Jesus as He hung on the
cross. Three of these can be assigned to the first three hours, between
9 a.m. and 12 noon. Four can be assigned to the next three hours,
12-3 p.m., during which the scene was shrouded in darkness.
It is traditional during Good Friday services to meditate on
these seven utterances. Surely there is much here for us to ponder.
[Victor Bible Background Commentary]
The only utterance from the cross recorded by Matthew and Mark.
[Wycliffe Bible Commentary]
Jesus was not questioning God; he was quoting the first line of
Psalm 22--a deep expression of the anguish he felt when he took on the
sins of the world, which caused him to be separated from his Father.
This was what Jesus dreaded as he prayed to God in the garden to take
the cup from him (Matthew 26:39). The physical agony was horrible,
but even worse was the period of spiritual separation from God.
Jesus suffered this double death so that we would never have to
experience eternal separation from God. [Life Application SB]
Ps. 22 is a graphic prophecy of the crucifixion, [Wiersbe
Ps 22 is interwoven with the whole Crucifixion story.... though
it begins in complete dejection, it ends in soaring triumph.
Did God actually forsake Jesus? (27:46) The divine and human
natures of Jesus were never separated, even during the crucifixion. Yet
it is clear, difficult as it is to explain, that Jesus' intimate
fellowship with God the Father was temporarily broken as he took the sin of
the entire world on himself. Jesus used the words of Psalm 22, which
begins with despair but ends with renewed trust in God. By quoting that
psalm, Jesus may have hinted that he knew the broken relationship with
his Father would soon be restored. [Quest SB]
It was to redeem us that Jesus lived and suffered and died. He
became "a Man of Sorrows," that we might be made partakers of
everlasting joy. God permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to
come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world marred and
blighted with sin, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse. He
permitted Him to leave the bosom of His love, the adoration of the angels,
to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred, and death. "The
chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5. Behold Him in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, upon the
cross! The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin. He
who had been one with God, felt in His soul the awful separation
that sin makes between God and man. This wrung from His lips the
anguished cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46.
It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of
its separation of the soul from God--it was this that broke the
heart of the Son of God.
But this great sacrifice was not made in order to create in the
Father's heart a love for man, not to make Him willing to save. No, no!
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son." John
3:16. The Father loves us, not because of the great propitiation, but
He provided the propitiation because He loves us. Christ was the
medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen
world. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 2
Corinthians 5:19. God suffered with His Son. In the agony of Gethsemane, the
death of Calvary, the heart of Infinite Love paid the price of our
With amazement angels witnessed the Saviour's despairing agony.
The hosts of heaven veiled their faces from the fearful sight.
Inanimate nature expressed sympathy with its insulted and dying Author.
The sun refused to look upon the awful scene. Its full, bright rays
were illuminating the earth at midday, when suddenly it seemed to be
blotted out. Complete darkness, like a funeral pall, enveloped the
cross. "There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour."
There was no eclipse or other natural cause for this darkness, which
was as deep as midnight without moon or stars. It was a miraculous
testimony given by God that the faith of after generations might be
In that thick darkness God's presence was hidden. He makes
darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and
His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son.
Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from
the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in
that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father's
presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none
In the thick darkness, God veiled the last human agony of His
Son. All who had seen Christ in His suffering had been convicted of
His divinity. That face, once beheld by humanity, was never
forgotten. As the face of Cain expressed his guilt as a murderer, so the
face of Christ revealed innocence, serenity, benevolence,--the image
of God. But His accusers would not give heed to the signet of
heaven. Through long hours of agony Christ had been gazed upon by the
jeering multitude. Now He was mercifully hidden by the mantle of God.
The silence of the grave seemed to have fallen upon Calvary. A
nameless terror held the throng that was gathered about the cross. The
cursing and reviling ceased in the midst of half-uttered sentences. Men,
women, and children fell prostrate upon the earth. Vivid lightnings
occasionally flashed forth from the cloud, and revealed the cross and the
crucified Redeemer. Priests, rulers, scribes, executioners, and the mob,
all thought that their time of retribution had come. After a while
some whispered that Jesus would now come down from the cross. Some
attempted to grope their way back to the city, beating their breasts and
wailing in fear.
At the ninth hour the darkness lifted from the people, but still
enveloped the Saviour. It was a symbol of the agony and horror that
weighed upon His heart. No eye could pierce the gloom that surrounded
the cross, and none could penetrate the deeper gloom that enshrouded
the suffering soul of Christ. The angry lightnings seemed to be
hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross. Then "Jesus cried with a loud
voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" "My God, My God, why hast
Thou forsaken Me?" As the outer gloom settled about the Saviour, many
voices exclaimed: The vengeance of heaven is upon Him. The bolts of
God's wrath are hurled at Him, because He claimed to be the Son of
God. Many who believed on Him heard His despairing cry. Hope left
them. If God had forsaken Jesus, in what could His followers trust?
When the darkness lifted from the oppressed spirit of Christ, He
revived to a sense of physical suffering, and said, "I thirst." One of
the Roman soldiers, touched with pity as he looked at the parched
lips, took a sponge on a stalk of hyssop, and dipping it in a vessel
of vinegar, offered it to Jesus. But the priests mocked at His
agony. When darkness covered the earth, they had been filled with fear;
as their terror abated, the dread returned that Jesus would yet
escape them. His words, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" they had
misinterpreted. With bitter contempt and scorn they said, "This man calleth for
Elias." The last opportunity to relieve His sufferings they refused.
"Let be," they said, "let us see whether Elias will come to save
The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated
with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to
the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love,
spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns;
those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He
endured--the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the
agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled
His soul at the hiding of His Father's face--speaks to each child of
humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear
this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and
opens the gates of Paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walked
the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee,
who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life,--offers
Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee. He,
the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy
sake becomes sin itself.
In silence the beholders watched for the end of the fearful
scene. The sun shone forth; but the cross was still enveloped in
darkness. Priests and rulers looked toward Jerusalem; and lo, the dense
cloud had settled over the city and the plains of Judea. The Sun of
Righteousness, the Light of the world, was withdrawing His beams from the once
favored city of Jerusalem. The fierce lightnings of God's wrath were
directed against the fated city.
Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear,
trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried,
"It is finished." "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." A
light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a
glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.
For almost all those hours Christ suffered in silence. Then, as
the moment of death approached, the last four sayings burst from
Christ's lips. None are addressed to the witnesses, squinting to pierce
the darkness. Instead each reflects Christ's own inner struggle and
His intimate relationship with the Father....
Now the Son of God was dying on the cross--dying that He might
take upon Himself the burden of our sins, and suffer death in our
place. For this awesome moment Jesus, who knew no sin, was "made...sin"
for us (2 Cor. 5:21). And at that extended moment, stretching over
three darkened hours, God the Father forsook the Son, turning away
from Him, and Christ experienced spiritual death--isolation from God.
In an awesome sense which we cannot begin to grasp the Godhead
itself was ripped and torn, and the anguish Jesus felt was deeper and
more real than all the anguish felt by our sin-cursed race. All this,
all of history's sin and suffering, was suddenly, stunningly
shouldered by the Son of God, and in the resultant sundering of that
intimate tie that bound Father, Son, and Spirit together, Christ suffered
more than we can ever imagine or begin to know. [Victor Bible
In that moment the weight of the world's sin fell upon the heart
and the being of Jesus; that that was the moment when he who knew no
sin was made sin for us (2Cor 5:21); and that the penalty which he
bore for us was the inevitable separation from God which sin brings.
No man may say that that is not true; but, if it is, it is a
mystery which we can only state and at which we can only wonder.... That
is a saying before which we must bow in reverence.... [Barclay
The full import of this cry cannot be fathomed. But certainly
its basis lay not in the physical suffering primarily, but in the
fact that for a time Jesus was made sin for us (II Cor 5:21);
[Wycliffe Bible Commentary]
The mystery of God the Father forsaking His only begotten Son is
too deep for us to fathom and understand. [Wiersbe Expository
The mystery of the crucifixion is only intensified by this cry.
The Greek word translated as "forsaken," enkataleipo, is a powerful
word that expresses terrible emotional anguish caused by abandonment.
Christ was not abandoned to the grave (same word, Acts 2:27), but on
the cross He was abandoned by the Father.
How could the Godhead itself be torn apart on Calvary? In what
sense was the Son abandoned there? Was that momentary isolation, or a
deeper severing? We are not told, and if we were we could hardly
understand. We do know, however, that it was this agony which Jesus feared;
this agony was so terrible that in a single, endless moment, what
Christ suffered more than paid for the sins of humankind from Adam to
history's end. [Victor Bible Background Commentary]
One of the most moving Bible studies I've ever experienced
happened in our living room. It was near Easter, and I had our little
group of friends turn in their Bibles to this passage. I gave each a
drawing of this scene; a drawing that had three circles drawn at varying
distances around the cross. Together we looked into the passage and found
those who stood closest to the cross--the centurion, the soldiers, the
thieves on the other crosses, the man who hurried up to offer Christ
drugged vinegar. We filled in the second circle, and then the third. And
then I asked each member of our group to select the one person he or
she might most probably have been--to take that person's place--to
witness the Crucifixion--and then to tell what he or she felt and thought
as he or she witnessed the death of our LORD.
What an exercise for you and me, at any time of the year. Are we
hardened, insulated against feelings by a protective shell, like the Roman
soldiers? Are we trained, educated, competent, like the Roman centurion?
Are we burdened with knowledge of our guilt, like the one thief on
the cross, or bitter and angry like the other? Are we simply
curious, like the man with the sponge of vinegar? Do our hearts break, as
did that of Mary His mother and the other women? Are we cynical,
like the priests and scribes?
Whatever our nature or present state, we can find a person with
whom to identify in this chapter. We can stand with them, near the
cross. We can watch the Saviour die. And, perhaps, as we do, we too can
suddenly be filled with awe as the events unfold, and realize
that--whoever we are, or whatever our condition--Jesus hangs there for us! And
through His suffering, we can be healed. [The 365-Day Devotional