by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Matthew 27:33-54
I. Assumptions can lead to wrong conclusions
A. As Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out - Matthew 27:46
B. Some claim that God abandoned Jesus because Jesus took on the world’s sins:
1. “My answer is that it was Jesus, the Man who became sin for us. When he absorbed the darkness and weight of the sin of the world into Himself, He had the sense of abandonment by God the Father that sin always brings. Blinded by sin and horrified by its effect on and in Him, the man Jesus cried out of His humanity, "Why have you forsaken me?" In that moment, He identified Himself with every person who has ever felt abandoned by God. He became one who felt isolated, lonely, abandoned, forsaken and hopeless on behalf of you, me, and everybody who would ever feel that way.” [Steve McVey, “Did the Father Forsake Jesus on the Cross? No!”]
2. “And this, no doubt, all the prophets did foresee in spirit, that Christ should become the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, rebel, and blasphemer, THAT EVER WAS OR COULD BE IN THE WORLD. For he, being made a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, is not now an innocent person, and without sins; is not now the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; but a sinner which hath and carrieth the sin of Paul, who was a blasphemer, an oppressor, and a persecutor; of Peter, which denied Christ; of David, which was an adulterer, a murderer, and caused the Gentiles to blaspheme the name of the Lord; and, briefly, which hath and beareth all the sins of all men in his body: not that he himself committed them, but for that he received them, being committed or done of us, and laid them upon his own body, that he might make satisfaction for them with his own blood” [Marin Luther,
C. The claim is that the sins of the whole world was imputed upon Jesus. Since God cannot bear sin, He abandoned Jesus at his time of need.
D. There is just one problem: Matthew 27:46 does say why God forsook Jesus. People assume that Jesus’ human nature became sinful, but assumption is not evidence.
II. Before digging into our topic, I would like to draw your attention that Mark’s account and Matthew’s account differ slightly
A. Mark 15:34 - Mark’s account follows the spelling of Jesus’ words as pronounced in the Aramaic dialect that was common in Galilee at this time period.
B. Matthew’s account records the Hebrew spelling of the words Jesus said, which is understandable since Matthew was aiming at a Hebrew audience.
C. There is no difference in meaning between the two accounts. The Holy Spirit himself supplied the translation - II Peter 1:19-21; I Corinthians 2:10-13
III. Did Jesus become sinful?
A. II Corinthians 5:21
1. At first glance the statement sounds almost contradictory. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
2. Jesus was without sin
a. I Peter 2:22 - Jesus committed no sin
b. Hebrews 4:15 - Our High Priest was without sin
c. Jesus was undefiled - Hebrews 7:26
d. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world because he alone in all the world’s history was without sin. If Jesus died in a sinful state, then he not be the perfect sacrifice.
3. Paul did not say Jesus became sinful, he said Jesus was made to be sin
a. That sounds awkward in English
b. Paul is referring to the sin offering in the Old Testament
(1) A sin offering required an unblemished animal to be sacrificed for the sins committed by another - Leviticus 4:3
(2) The animal did not sin. It did not take on the person’s sins.
(3) Its death stood as a substitute for the death of the sinner
c. But the death of an animal could not atone for men’s sins - Hebrews 10:1-4
(1) It took the sinless death of God’s own Son to accomplish what animal sacrifices could not do - Hebrews 10:10
d. “As a sinless substitute he suffered for our sins, that our sins might thus be atoned for, the law satisfied, and we be forgiven and accounted righteous. Since we die with Christ, in him we pay the penalty, and are justified." [People’s New Testament Commentary] - Romans 6:5
4. The Greek word for “sin” is amaritia.
a. It means sin, transgression or guilt. So when Paul said Jesus knew no sin, he is saying that Jesus was innocent of all guilt.
b. But this same word also is used to mean a sin offering or a sacrifice for sin.
(1) The Septuagint translated sin-offering as amaritia 94 times in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers according to the commentator Adam Clarke
(2) By not noting the second definition for the word, the translators confused sin with the punishment due sin.
(3) Jesus suffered and died in our stead, bearing the punishment that was due because of our sins
B. Galatians 3:13
1. Like II Corinthians 5:21, this passage is saying that Jesus took on the consequences that the Law laid out for sin.
2. Paul is stating that Jesus was treated as if he was a heinous criminal, but he is not stating he was a heinous criminal.
3. The quote is of Deuteronomy 21:22-23, but note that Paul leaves out “of God” after “accursed.”
a. Jesus was treated as a curse, but he wasn’t accursed by God.
b. The original law dealt with hanging, not crucifixion.
c. Paul is making a parallel between what happened to Christ and what the Law stated.
d. In the case of Christ, the innocent was treated as if he was a curse.
C. Isaiah 53:6-12
1. Jesus bore the consequences of our sins, laid on him by the Father - Romans 4:25
2. Notice especially Isaiah 53:4-5 the emphasis on the punishment that was laid on him
D. I Peter 2:24
1. Again, the implication is that he bore the consequence or punishment for our sins.
2. One person cannot be charged with the sins of another - Ezekiel 18:20
3. “In his body” refers to where the punishment for our sins was inflicted upon Jesus.
a. It does not mean that our sins were placed in his flesh while somehow his spirit remained untainted by them. Such is an imaginary mechanism unsupported by any teaching in the Scripture.
IV. Did God abandon Jesus?
A. John 8:16 - “for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me”
1. present active indicative - continuous, on going
2. Jesus continues to be with the Father
B. John 8:28-29 - “He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone”
1. “He” is not in the Greek. When Jesus is lifted up on the cross, we will know that he is “I am” – a reference to his deity - Exodus 3:14
2. In a prophecy about the Messiah - Isaiah 48:12-19
3. God has not left Jesus alone when he is lifted up on the cross
C. John 16:32 - “And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me”
1. The disciples will abandon Jesus, but Jesus will not be alone.
D. Jesus denies that Father would desert him.
V. Then why did Jesus say his Father forsook him?
A. Jesus quoted the first line of Psalms 22. It was a reminder to his disciples to remember that particular psalm and all that it said.
B. Psalms 22:1-5
1. It starts out as a cry of despair but becomes a cry of trust
2. The emphasis is on the outcome - Matthew 26:39
3. It is “forsaken” in the sense of not being rescued but left to his enemies, not as a personal rejection.
C. The rest of Psalms 22 describes Jesus’ suffering on the cross, punctuated with assertions of complete trust in God - Psalms 22:7-11
1. Men would reject him, but God would always be there.
2. No one else could deliver him
D. The psalmist realizes that God had not truly abandoned him - Psalms 22:22-24
1. This is the opposite of what some ascribe to Jesus on the cross!
2. Jesus died a horrible death on the cross. A death that God did not spare him from facing - Romans 8:32
E. But Jesus’ trust was well placed - Acts 2:29-31
F. With such an example of fulfilled trust, could we do no less? - Hebrews 12:1-3