These words have always been distressing to read. They are the only words both Mark and Matthew record Jesus speaking from the cross. Of the seven last sayings of Jesus from the cross [3 in Luke, 3 in John], this is the saying that has caused the most concern for Christians.
We do know that Jesus often quoted the Psalms and these words are the first line of Psalm 22. Was Jesus hoping that those who heard him cry out with these words would recall the rest of the Psalm? This Psalm of David does move toward hope; declaring in verse 24: For [God] has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
Whether Jesus was still teaching, even on the cross, or feeling absolutely forsaken, we cannot know for certain. We do know that Jesus was fully human and suffered to the greatest extent, yet was fully God, embracing his calling as Redeemer. In the hymn: O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded, we’ll sing these words on Good Friday: …mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
As we walk through Holy Week, may we be ever grateful for the love of the Saviour. May we experience this love deeply and offer it earnestly to others.
with hope in Christ,