Of the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross there are several that have caught my mind, but the most compelling and heart-wrenching was, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
Not everyone agrees with me why, but that’s okay. Many people, when they hear Jesus’ statement, point to 2 Corinthians 5:21 and say that’s why. This small article is not intended to be an exposition of that scripture. Suffice it to say I believe what Paul is saying there is a metonymy, a putting of a part for the whole, that Jesus was made to be a sin offering, not literal sin (Hebrews 4:15).
The act of atonement is happening at the cross, or the process where the justice of God meets the satisfaction of the law’s demands. The soul that sins must die, Ezekiel 18:4, 20 tells us. Jesus had never committed a sin, but died as our sin sacrifice (Romans 5:8-10). The penalty of sin must be paid. Had the penalty not been paid, God’s justice is not satisfied and the law is merely a joke.
But God allowed his son to die. He couldn’t save him. If WE are to be saved, then God the Father must allow his only begotten son to die for US. Doesn’t this take us back to Gethsemane? Jesus asked, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42). Certainly, Jesus was faced with his own death, but he was also faced with the prospect that, at some point, he would be separated from his Father.
Anyone who has ever had to let a family member die knows how difficult it is to let go. But, what if you had the ability to save them? Could you just let them go? God had to do exactly that. He had to allow his son to die so that we could be saved. “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8 NET).