Did God the Father really turn His back on His Son on the cross? Is God cold-hearted?

At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34, GW)

I read a true story once long ago that was both disturbing and showed the reality of how far a parent’s love can go for a child.  A mother and daughter were in a severe car wreck.  Their car was thrown from the road and no one knew where they were.  In the days that followed, the young daughter woke up and began crying out, “I’m thirsty!  I’m thirsty!” over and over again.

The mother, who was paralyzed by her injuries, became frantic to help her daughter.  She asked herself, What can I do?

She decided to do something that is so extreme it is almost hard to understand, but in another sense, it is easy to understand, because of the extreme love a parent can have for a child.  She picked up a broken glass shard from the shattered car windows and cut her arm open.  She let her daughter drink the blood from her arm.

Over the next few days, every time her daughter cried out that she was thirsty, she cut herself, over and over.  When the paramedics found and rescued the woman and her daughter, the mother had multiple cuts from the many times she had given her own blood for her daughter’s thirst.

When we look at stories like this, and we think about our own instinct to love each other, it seems almost inconceivable that God, who identifies Himself as the deepest, best love in the universe, and the source of love, would turn His back on His own Child on the cross.  It seems nearly unimaginable that God would allow His Son to be spit on, accused of lying when He said God was His Father, mocked, given vinegar to drink to quench His thirst, flogged, and everything else that happened on that long night that turn into dawn and into day.  The sun did not rise on a new day, but on a continuation of the darkest night in history.  As Jesus struggled with His last breaths, the sky turned black.  There was no day on this day.

Atheists sometimes give Christ’s crucifixion as one of the reasons they could never believe in God.  How could a Father ever, under any circumstances, permit His Son to go through such torture?  And because God knows all things, did He arrange for all this to happen?

In a sense, these are hard questions to answer, when you look at the extreme death of Christ on the cross.  But in another sense, it is easy to understand, because of the extreme love a parent can have for a child. 

You see, we were created to be God’s children.  Not biologically, and not in the sense that we are “gods” or share God’s essence.  But in an “inter-species” adoption, if you will, God adopted Adam as His son when He made him.  Jesus, on the other hand, has always been with God, is one of the three Persons of God, and was not created.

God created us to share in His love and joy.  Creating us was the first gift He gave us.  He could have created us to be no more than dogs or cats, and certainly that would have been wonderful in and of itself in the perfect world He made, but He gave us a priceless gift: He made us in His image.  We have an awareness of love and morality and choice that a dog or cat never can.

We did not want to be God’s children, though.  We rebelled and, in effect, handed our birth certificates over to Satan to claim.  And he did.  The cross is God’s act of buying us back from Hell.

The cross is not a manifestation of God the Father’s abandonment of His Son, but a manifestation of the love all three Persons of God have for His “ex-children”: us. 

Even through everything we have done against Him, God wants to be our Father again.  And He made that way through one Person of God coming to earth and dying.  All three Persons of God fully agreed on this plan, because that is the greatness of the love God has for us.

Jesus is not a victim.  He is like the mother who willingly cut herself to give her child a drink.  Jesus gave us His flesh and blood to bring us back to God.  It was the most costly adoption of all time.

We need to stop accusing God of doing something wrong because He suffered for us.  It is like accusing the mother in the story I told of cruelty and insanity for cutting herself so her child could live.  But it is worse than that.  It is the daughter herself accusing the mother of cruelty and insanity.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB)

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