“A supreme happiness of life,” wrote Victor Hugo, “consists in the conviction that one is loved; loved for one’s own sake—let us say rather, loved in spite of one’s self.”We each possess just enough introspection to realize that we need such a love as this. Love carries with it the benefit of loyalty from another person, which gives us confidence that they will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Heb. 13:5). This is the continual message of the scripture; God will not forsake those who are faithful to Him (Psa. 37:28). This perspective must guide our interpretation and reflection on Jesus the Messiah’s cry from the cross, translated, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” The father never, as many suggest, forsook him.
I say this in the face of the many sermons you will hear this Easter season suggesting that it was necessary for the Father to “turn His back” or “turn His face” away from His son while the son suffered. Some will suggest that this was necessary since Jesus was bearing not only our sins, but also taking the separation we deserved for our sins.
If I may, with delicacy and respect, I would like to disagree with these teachers and suggest that such wrong teaching is based on faulty interpretation of scripture or wishful thinking. Even worse, these ideas are mostly the folk theology handed down, consumed, and disseminated without reflection. In other words, these teachings flow from mistaken speculation, built on mistaken speculation, molded to form an unquestionable conclusion.
It is none the less false. The Father did not and would never turn his face, his back, or remove his favor from His obedient, perfect son. Instead, on the cross we have the blemishless sacrifice for our sins offered through the perfect and unified will of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I imagine that I have now stirred anger in some, curiosity in others, and in just a few, confirmation to the whispers of doubt they always held about this assertion of abandonment. Here I will present and defend my view.
For a great theological work on this topic read Thomas McCall’s Forsaken,
You can start by checking out my review of it, “All of God is for Us.”
He also has a great article on the topic in Christianity Today called, “Is the Wrath of God Satisfying.”