Twitter handles like MissionKali and NoConversion often post derogatory memes depicting Jesus as a weak individual who was crying for help at the cross but no one came to rescue him. Hindus then jump on the bandwagon. Their favorite goto verse is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”. But, does this really raise questions against his divinity? Is this a knockdown objection?
My answer is a resounding No! There’s more to the story than what meets the eye. The surface-level reading of this text won’t do justice to what was happening there. The key to understanding this verse is to read it in its ancient Jewish context. When a 1st century Jew heard Jesus saying this, what is the ‘intended’ message that he received? Jesus was quoting Scriptures! He was quoting the first line of Psalms 22. In ancient Judaism, it was a tradition to refer to an entire Psalm by quoting the first line. (P.J Williams “The Linguistic Background to Jesus’ Dereliction Cry (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34” in The New Testament in its first century setting).
If we read the next verses it gives us a clear indication that Jesus was looking at this suffering as a fulfillment of the scripture:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!Psalm 22:23-24
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard when he cried to him.
Jesus didn’t die thinking that he was abandoned by God The Father, but instead, he was pointing out that it’s not what it looks like and God is going to save Him.