My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? [ Why are You so ] far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?
Did Father God leave His Son to die on the cross of Calvary? Cruel as that may seem, and very really, He did! One might say that Jesus, as a Man, simply felt that His Father God had forsaken Him, but no matter how you slice it, there seems to have been a very real separation; in fact, there WAS a very real separation; Jesus died, for real!
Jesus, if He had wished it, could have come down off the cross, right? He could have kept Himself from dying at the hands of those angry men, both young and old, right?
As God Himself, Jesus surely had the power to do these things, right?! Even the Accuser knew that; 'For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In [ their ] hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' ( Psalm 91:11 & 12 ) When Jesus was on the cross, His Accusers taunted Him with 'You who destroy the temple and build [ it ] in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' ( Matthew 27:42 )
Besides the fact that we can see, looking back, it was our Heavenly Father's Plan for His Son to die on the cross of Calvary, Jesus, even though He asked at least once, 'Take this cup away from Me' ( Mark 11:36 ), chose to hang on that cursed tree and die for the sins of His People!
Could Jesus have come down off the cross and kicked some Pharisaical butt? They sure thought He could have, if He was Who He said He was! Most Christians today would like to think He could have, and maybe even have envisioned Him doing so ( especially after watching Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' ), but the fact of the matter is, that He did not; He fully and freely obeyed the Will of His Father!
One might wonder where we're going with all this!
Well, if Jesus was God, or the Son of God, why would He say 'But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only' ( Matthew 24:36 ), when He had earlier predicted, with all certainty, 'there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom' ( Matthew 16:28 )? Then again, He told the Jewish high priest, 'hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
Did Jesus, as the Son of God, know 'that day and hour', or did He simply know, for damn sure, that His Day was coming? John recorded that He uttered these words from the Right Hand of the Father ( numerous times ), 'Behold,[e] I am coming quickly!' ( Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 12 & 20 )
When He referred to Himself as 'the Son of Man' before His glorification, was he making a reference to the notion that He was somewhat less than God? Did He not come down off the cross because He wasn't yet the Son of God?
Were His Accusers right?
Well, Jesus referred to Himself as 'the Son of God' quite a few times as well, although only directly & clearly in John's record of the Gospel! According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, He hinted many times that He was the Son of our Heavenly, and interestingly enough, the clearest reference to ANYONE as a son or sons of God is given of us!
So, clearly, Jesus WAS, prior to His glorification, even, the Son of God! Why then, do you suppose, did He say 'of that day and hour no one knows'?
Well, later on His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave His listeners a hint as to why: He told them 'Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming.' ( Matthew 25:13 ) Mark recorded that Jesus spoke these words during His Sermon, 'but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.'
Jesus was known for His insistence that 'My Father is greater than I' ( John 14:28 ), so for Him to say that not even He knew the day or hour of His coming would by no means imply that He was any less than God Himself, just that He, as the Son, knew that all things were in the Father's Hands!
He knew that He was going to be sent to judge His covenant people, but not exactly when!
Let's cut into the issue of separation here! When God the Father sent His Son to die for the sins of His people, as we have already explored, there was a separation, a death of sorts. When Jesus uttered those famous last words on the cross of Calvary, might He not truly have tasted that death for the first time? When He felt His life-force draining out of Him, do you think maybe the realization of what it meant when He was sent to this realm finally hit Him with its full force??
Jesus was, as certain confessions say, ''fully man, and fully God', but for the Purpose of the Eschaton, He was separated from His Father, and experienced the pain of covenantal death in the stead of His People, Israel! After He was raised by the Power of the Spirit, He resumed His place at the Father's ''right hand', until the Marriage Supper was made ready, the battle was prepared, and He came, in the glory of His Father ( Matthew 16:27 ) to claim His Bride!
Glory be to our Heavenly Father, who cut this Covenant with us!
Charles Haddon Shank