If Jesus is God, why does he say, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
On the cross at the ninth hour (3 PM) Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)? This was right before Jesus gave up his spirit and died. This was one of the seven recorded words from the cross that Jesus spoke while he hung from 9 AM to 3 PM.
There are several theories on why Jesus said this. One of them is that Jesus took on the weight of the sin of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because the Father cannot look upon sin, he had to turn his back. In that moment, Jesus felt the separation from the Father for the first time ever.
The Father did not leave Jesus. His presence was still there. But he had to turn his back so he did not look upon sin. Jesus did not sin. He is sinless (Hebrews 4:15). But he took on the sin of the world, like wearing a coat. This is how he became the guilt or sin offering, the perfect and ultimate sacrifice who can forgive our sins because he never sinned.
The second understanding of this phrase is that Jesus began to quote from Psalm 22 in the Old Testament. This saying is the first line of Psalm 22. This Psalm is a messianic Psalm all about how the Messiah suffers. If you ever read the entire Psalm, you will find there are parallels with Jesus’ suffering on the cross.
When a Rabbi said one or more verses from the Bible, he was referencing everything in between. If it was the beginning of the Psalm, Jesus was referencing the entire Psalm without quoting it. So for anyone paying attention in the crowd, they would hear the beginning of Psalm 22 and understand that it was the context for the whole Psalm.
By quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, Jesus was declaring himself to be the suffering Messiah. It was his final proclamation about himself. But there is one other theological point that must be made about this question.
Two members of the Trinity appear in the text of the Gospels at this moment. When Jesus says, “My God, My God,” he references God the Father. But Jesus, the Son, is also present in this text. Just like one person can talk to another person, Jesus referenced one of the Persons of the Trinity while himself being another Person of the Trinity.
The Trinity contains three Persons in one substance. Jesus is divine because he is of the same substance as the Father and the Spirit. But he is his own Person. He has his own personality and holds all of the identity of a single person. This is the mystery of the Trinity.
When Jesus spoke about the Father, calling him God, he wasn’t saying that he wasn’t God. They are both God because they have the same substance that makes God divine. So Jesus was expressing a deep moment of loss and silence because he took on the sin of the world.
As far as we understand, it was the deepest moment between the Father and the Son. But both maintain their divinity in that moment. Jesus limited himself from all of the powers of his divinity while he ministered on earth.