A Study of Matthew 27:46

“My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
(Matthew 27:46)

The Evangelist adds, that Jesus cried again, with a loud voice.

But why with a loud voice?

To show that He did not die by compulsion but voluntarily. When a person is in his last moments, his speech commonly fails him; but Christ, when He was expiring, spoke with a clear, audible voice, which was a proof, that, though He had suffered so much in His human nature, yet that human nature was, in a supernatural manner supported by His Godhead, and that all the united cruelty of Jews and Gentiles, could not put an end to His life, sooner than He pleased. Having, therefore, with a loud and triumphant voice, commended His blessed soul into His heavenly Father’s hands, He gave up the ghost; or, as it may be literally rendered, “He dismissed or let go His spirit.”

When He knew that He had fulfilled all the prophecies that related to Him, and suffered enough to procure the salvation of His people, He voluntarily retired from life. No sooner was the important scene brought to a period; no sooner were the Redeemer’s eyelids closed, than universal nature seemed to sympathize with her departing Lord, and in a miraculous manner, to reproach the matchless guilt and the unexampled cruelty of His murderers. The first prodigy that immediately followed on His death, was the rending the veil of the temple. The priests, or at least, the major part of them, were attending divine service in the temple, to offer up the evening sacrifice, at the very moment when Christ expired; when the veil, or magnificent curtain, which separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, was suddenly rent in two.

And as this veil was composed of the richest and strongest tapestry, its rending of itself was the more miraculous, and showed the immediate interposition of divine Providence. This rending of the veil signified, that the Jewish dispensation was now at an end, all the types belonging to it being fulfilled in Christ. It was also a presage of the approaching destruction of the Jews as a nation; and showed likewise, that by the death and sacrifice of Christ, a way was opened for sinners into heaven, of which the holy of holies was an emblem; and that now, there was no difference between Jew and Gentile; Christ having broken down the partition wall, and procured eternal life for all that trust in Him, out of every nation under heaven.
Our blessed Lord when He had hung near three hours on the cross, and suffered, not only in His body, but, which was more dreadful still, endured in His immaculate soul that sense of the divine wrath which was due to His people, broke out into that pathetic and bitter cry “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Or as I think it may better be rendered, My God! My God! how hast Thou forsaken Me?” as much as to say, to what depth of immense distress does the withdrawing of Thy presence reduce Me! Christ suffered as our substitute, and in our stead; the punishment, which must otherwise have fallen on us, was transferred on Him. And one part of that punishment consisted in the inward manifestations of the divine displeasure. These, therefore, the Redeemer felt, not for any evil done by Him, but for the sins done by others, and which He graciously took upon Himself to atone for. So that this was the time wherein it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and to make His soul an offering for sin, If the Most High God bent His bow against Him as an enemy, and stood at His right hand as an adversary, it is easy to account for the prodigious consternation of the Redeemer. It is not to be wondered at, that His heart, though otherwise indued with invincible fortitude, should, on this occasion, become like melting wax.
The vinegar and the gall, which they gave Him to drink, were not half so bitter as the cup of His Father’s wrath; yet for the sake of His people, He drank it to the very dregs. The nails that pierced His hands, and the spear that cleft His heart, were not half so sharp as the frowns of His eternal Father’s countenance; which, for our consolation, He patiently submitted to bear. He was rent with wounds, and racked with pain; yet this, all this, was gentle, was lenient, in comparison of those inexpressible agonies which penetrated His very soul. The former fetched not a single complaint from His mouth; the latter, wrung from His breaking heart that passionate exclamation, “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?” —Astonishing words! surely a distress beyond all imagination grievous, uttered them! Surely the vengeance, not of men, but of heaven itself, exhorted them! Every syllable of which, speaks, what the prophet describes; “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger.”

By Augustus M. Toplady

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