A thousand years before Jesus went to the cross, King David of Israel wrote the 22nd Psalm, which begins like this: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The fact that Jesus quoted these words in His dying moments suggests that He meditated on this psalm during the painful hours of His suffering.
Psalm 22 describes cruel torment far beyond David's own experience but specifically fulfilled at the cross of Christ. Only by divine inspiration could the psalmist write, "They have pierced my hands and feet" (v 6) -- many centuries before crucifixions were even practiced. At Calvary Jesus quoted Psalm 22, not simply because it expressed what He was feeling, but because it expressed what was happening. He knew this psalm was about Him.
The victim of a crucifixion suffered the most painful and humiliating form of execution ever devised by humans. But for Jesus, the spiritual agony was far greater than the physical. While slowly suffocating on a Roman cross, something far more profound was happening in the invisible realm -- something
that changed the course of all history, even something that affects our lives to this very day: for God
the Father was placing the weight of our sins upon His own Son.
The prophet Isaiah had predicted this 700 years in advance: "But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (53:5-6).
The apostle Paul put it like this in the New Testament: "For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be
sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus was an innocent man, yet God placed the guilt of our sins upon Him. The punishment we deserved was actually poured out on Jesus. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).
The necessity of this sacrifice is found in the righteousness of God. The only way a Righteous God can forgive sinners is for sins to be paid for. God's wrath poured out on Christ means justice is served. At the cross we bow in wonder at God's amazing provision by which sins are punished and sinners forgiven.
The sobering reality of the cross is that Jesus did not merely feel forsaken by the Father; He was forsaken. God the Father actually turned His back on God the Son as darkness covered the land for three hours. Jesus literally went through hell for you and me so that we would never have to know what hell is like. The consequences are eternally significant:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life... Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16,18).
Have you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for sins and rose again? Because He was forsaken by God, those who trust in Him never will be!