The key to understanding the cry of Jesus from the cross is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'” (Gal. 3:13, NIV).
To be cursed is to be removed from the presence of God, to be set outside the camp, to be cut off from His benefits. On the cross, Jesus was cursed. That is, He represented the Jewish nation of covenant breakers who were exposed to the curse and took the full measure of the curse on Himself. As the Lamb of God, the Sin Bearer, He was cut off from the presence of God.
On the cross, Jesus entered into the experience of forsakenness on our behalf. God turned His back on Jesus and cut Him off from all blessing, from all keeping, from all grace, and from all peace.
God is too holy to even look at iniquity. God the Father turned His back on the Son, cursing Him to the pit of hell while He hung on the cross. Here was the Son’s “descent into hell.” Here the fury of God raged against Him. His scream was the scream of the damned. For us.
Coram Deo: Reflect on what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Give thanks for the Lamb of God who bore your sin.
Matthew 27:46: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'”
Galatians 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).”
Galatians 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'”
—Dr. R.C. Sproul