In the Gospel according to St. Mark, we read the following passage: "At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:33-34) Could this mean the God actually forsook Christ on the Cross? Could, as some of my Protestant friends has explained to me, God not look upon the sin the Christ had taken upon himself for our sake?
Christ answered these questions at the Feast of the Dedication the winter before, when He said: "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." (John 10:25-39)
The Church fathers remind us that upon the Cross there hung both God and man. Thus, as God, Christ could not not forsake Himself, nor would it be fitting for Him to be unable to look upon that which He willing took upon Himself, namely our sins. Then what did Christ mean when He said "My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?"
Christ was reminding His disciples that were looking upon the Cross of the witness, testimony and foreshadowing of His Passion that was provided in the Psalms. Unlike today, the Psalms and most of the scriptures used in the synagogues were unnumbered; as such, Rabbis often referred to a passages by the first line. Here Christ was turning the onlookers' attention to Psalm 22, which begins in the deepest of lament and ends in joyful exaltation -- as the lament of Good Friday is soon washed away with the joy of the Resurrection on Sunday.
As we meditate on the Crucifix, let us also meditate on the words of Psalm 22:
2. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?
3. My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.
4. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel.
5. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them.
6. To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
7. But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
8. All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me:
9. "You relied on the LORD--let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you."
10. Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast.
11. Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God.
12. Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
13. Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
14. They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar.
15. Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.
16. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death.
17. Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet
18. that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat;
19. they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.
20. But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me.
21. Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog.
22. Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.
23. Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you:
24. "You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
25. For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.
26. I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
27. The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!"
28. All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you.
29. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations.
30. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage.
31. And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you.
32. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.