Do Jesus’ words from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” mean that God the Father abandoned his Son?

Full Question

Do Jesus’ words from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” mean that God the Father abandoned his Son even though, as God, he could have helped him?


If someone were to say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag” or “Our Father who art in heaven,” most people could either finish the quotation or prayer or at least understand the ideas being expressed. That is because certain quotations in our culture, whether secular or religious, are known and even memorized because of their importance.

This was true of the psalms in Jesus time. He needed only to say the first line, and most Jews would have known the rest, or at least the message.

Jesus was quoting Psalm 22, a messianic psalm that vividly describes the agony the suffering servant would endure. God the Father did not abandon his Son in his Son’s suffering but allowed him in his humanity to experience the sense of divine abandonment that humans often feel during times of need, and especially when in sin. Just as we often feel that God has abandoned us when we are suffering (even though this isn’t the case), so the Son of God in his humanity experienced that.aspect of human suffering as well. He died for our sins, and the weight of those sins—and thus the feeling of abandonment—must have been exceedingly heavy at that point.

By quoting this psalm, Jesus shows that he is the fulfillment of that prophecy and that he will be vindicated, which is evident in the psalm’s triumphant ending.

Catholic Answers Staff


  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    The better question is – why are there 3 sets of final words? Mark and Matthew have a very human Jesus, suffering and calling out these words. Luke has a Jesus who appears not to be suffering as he chats up people on the way to the crucifixion and chats with the guys hanging next to him (this is next to impossible in a real crucifixion according to what I’ve read). Luke’s Jesus says “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The author of Luke has a different idea of Jesus – he’s god already and he appears not to be suffering much. John’s Jesus simply says, “It is finished.” Oddly enough John’s Jesus is far more verbose in his ministry than the other three gospels, but he says the least at his death.

    Nobody knows what really happened, as this was all based on oral traditions passed down by different groups in different countries, many decades after the supposed events. Think back to the metallic weather balloon that went down in Roswell in the late 40’s when we actually had recording devices available. 30 years later that balloon had turned into a full blown UFO with captured aliens on ice, and secret government programs based on UFO technology. And it was just a weather balloon. And Jesus was just another failed (from the Jewish perspective) messiah; one of several at the time.

  2. cedie Reply

    Do the salvation loose?

    1. Ed Lim Reply

      My understanding of Jesus’ words “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?” is that the gift of salvation must remain with Jesus Christ. It was not given directly to humanity but rather remained with Christ. Jesus Christ must build his church and bring conversion and salvation through the suffering of his body and the outpouring of his blood of forgiveness. Though the crucifixion occurred in Calvary two thousand years ago, that event projects to the past, present and future by means of the consecration of the bread and wine at the altar in every holy sacrifice of the Mass celebrated in the Catholic Church. The Jewish Passover Rite, which was celebrated before the Crucifixion, though inferior offering, was credited to the Jews as the precursor sacrifice of the Lamb of God. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Catholic Church has tremendous efficacy for the transformation of sinners and hence their salvation. Jesus Christ wanted salvation for all right there from the cross. But no, unrepentant sinners with unforgivable sins are headed to eternal perdition. Hence, “why have you forsaken me?”

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        A far more probable explanation is that Jesus really did expect Yahweh to show up, haul him down from that cross, set him up as a holy messiah, ruling the world, and ushering in the end of time. There came a point where Jesus apparently realized that wasn’t going to happen…. his big “Oops” moment! It was the same oops moment experienced by a couple other messiahs of the time who were influenced by failed prophecies from Jeremiah and Daniel.
        Note that Jesus asked “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me.” He didn’t say, Humanity, oh humanity, why have you forsaken me.
        I think his meaning was pretty clear, but that’s a clever attempt to explain away his loss of faith.
        You said, “unrepentant sinners with unforgivable sins are headed to eternal perdition.” The bible has four words that were translated to the pagan word “Hell.” Which of them is “perdition?”

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