Christian Essentials, Controversial Issues

Was Jesus Separated from the Father on the Cross?

This topic may be new to some but is understood by many in the Christian faith to be a Biblical doctrine. Most Christian preachers teach that when Jesus was on the cross and said “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34), He was referring to the fact that God, the Father, turned His back on Jesus because the sin of the world was laid upon Him. They go on to teach that God cannot look upon sin and for a moment in time the unity of the Father and Jesus was separated on the cross. Some teach Jesus being separated from the Father means Jesus died spiritually, but did Jesus die spiritually?

I will admit that on the surface, this seems to be a Biblical teaching. However, the more I examine this I cannot accept it nor condone it. My purpose for this article is to present the error of this illogical and unbiblical teaching. You may ask, does it really matter? I will let you decide for yourself on that question. All I ask is that you consider the information pertaining to this topic and examine it for yourself.

Examining What Jesus Said

Jesus said “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” recorded in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. The question is why did Jesus say this? When Jesus said this, what exactly was He saying and to whom was he directing this statement? What was going on around Jesus when He said this? These are questions that give much light to what Jesus said. In order to understand what Jesus meant I believe it is imperative to read the Scriptures in context to properly grasp the fulfillment of what was being stated. The Jews, at that time, were waiting for the Messiah to come and had their own certain beliefs about who this Messiah would be. In short, at that time the Jewish people, who were waiting for the Messiah to come, expected Him to be a great leader and King to deliver them from the Romans. They were not expecting a suffering Messiah and they rejected Jesus as God’s appointed Messiah and in turn had Him crucified.

Jesus taught from the Old Testament and many times claimed to be the Messiah to come. When Jesus was on the cross, many Messianic prophecies were being fulfilled before their very eyes and yet they did not see it. In Matthew 27:35 it records that they took off His clothes and cast lots for them. This is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18 “They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” Also in Matthew 27:39 it records that those around Him mocked Him and insulted Him. This is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:7 “All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, {saying,}.” In Matthew 27:43 the people were saying “He trusted in God, let us see if He will deliver Him.” This is in fulfillment in Psalms 22:8 “Commit {yourself} to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” Jewish scholars and Jewish people believed Psalm 22 was Messianic in understanding and prophetic in reference to the coming Messiah. When Jesus said “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He was quoting Psalm 22:1 which is a Messianic Psalm.

Jesus knew exactly what He was quoting to them and He knew why He was on the cross. They cast lots for His clothes, mocked Him with insults and were questioning if God would deliver Him. These were all from Psalm 22 in fulfillment right before their eyes. In other words, when Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1, He was referencing the whole chapter and claiming to be the Messiah of whom they were forsaking and showing them that He would be delivered. In reading Psalm 22, in it’s entirety, it speaks of deliverance, not destruction. Jesus knew why He came to this earth and what His purpose was in coming. Reading through the four gospels, Jesus taught that He came to give His life as a ransom for the people, that He would be betrayed and on the third day rise again. Jesus knew from where He came, what was going to happen and where He was going. When He quoted Psalm 22:1, He was telling them that He would be delivered and that He was their Messiah! He was not stating that the Father turned His back on Him.

The following paragraphs will show that Jesus was not separated from the Father on the cross. I will provide Scripture references as proof and will also examine the other view and show reasons why it is wrong to teach that there was a separation on the cross.

Misconceptions Corrected

Isaiah 59:2 is used in reference to believe that God the Father turned His back on Jesus and they were separated. It says “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden {His} face from you so that He does not hear.” This does not mean that God forsook them completely or that they were rejected! Those who teach Christ was separated from the Father because of the sin laid upon Him, use this verse as proof. But what about Adam and Eve? They had perfect fellowship with God in the beginning but sinned later and caused a separation but not a rejection. Their sin did a separation but God always cared for them, loved them and did not forsake them. This portion of scripture is dealing with man’s rebellion to God and in turn God says, through Isaiah, that their wicked actions have caused a division between them. Again it is true that sin can not be in the presence of God, in heaven, not on earth! God, throughout the Bible, says that we are to turn from our wicked ways and repent and He will forgive us. Sin has always been present in this world since the fall of Adam and Eve, but God has always been in the midst of His creation. He was active in many peoples’ lives in the Old Testament, even dwelling among them in clouds and His presence in the tabernacle. God made Himself known to people, even appearing in some type of physical form to certain individuals and groups of people. They all were sinners and God was in their midst and He did not forsake them. God is Holy and just and He does bring judgment upon sin. Consider 2 Chronicles 7:14 “…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This is the very heart of God, even in the midst of sinners.

Therefore, Isaiah 59:2 does not apply to what Jesus performed on the cross, for even though Jesus never sinned, the sins of the world were laid upon Him. But that does not mean the Father forsook Him, rather what Jesus did is give His life as an offering to God for the sins of the world, like the High Priest would in reference to making atonement for sins. Isaiah 53:10 says “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.” Isaiah 53:12 says “…Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of the many, And interceded for the transgressors.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” There are those who say that this means Jesus became literal sin, wherefore He took our sin and paid the price we deserved and was separated from the Father. Again, Jesus was never separated from the Father. What exactly did Jesus’ death do for mankind by sacrificing His life on the cross? The Bible states that Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) who shed His blood to make atonement and to bridge the gap from man to God. John, the Baptist, said “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John, the Apostle, wrote “and He Himself is our propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Peter writes that we have been redeemed, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:19) Throughout he New Testament, Christ is called the Lamb of God, our sacrifice, and it is He who fulfilled the Messianic prophecies pertaining to a suffering Messiah. In Isaiah 53, is shows where Jesus fulfilled the requirements by the Law to satisfy God as an offering to reconcile man back to God. I suggest for you to read Leviticus 1-7 and Isaiah 53 and see what Christ fulfilled by His shed blood.

Another point to bring up is that whatever was sacrificed as an offering for sin, (whether a lamb, goat, hens, etc.) it never became literal sin but was a substitute sacrifice for sin. In other words, the animal that was sacrificed never became sin itself, but was the offering for sin to make atonement. Jesus never became sin or a sinner, but became an offering for sin to satisfy the requirement of reconciliation between man and God.

Additional information concerning 2 Corinthians 5:21

There is no hint of anything in Scripture that Jesus actually became literally sin.  Some use 2 Corinthians 5:21 to suggest this but when examined that Scripture does not state that.  Here is what 2 Corinthians 5:21 says:  “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (NASB)  Here are some Biblical reasons why Jesus did not become literally sin to make atonement for sins.  Firstly, if Jesus became sin then by definition Jesus was no longer holy and would not be an unblemished sacrifice, therefore would not be worthy as a sacrifice.  Secondly, the word “made” in the Greek (Strongs 4160) means:  to perform, to ordain, to appoint, to execute, bring forth, fulfill, made…  Clearly Jesus was to be sin in the sense of Him being appointed to be a sacrifice for sins to bring reconciliation and peace for mankind to God.  It is written in Acts 2:36 that God “made” Jesus both Lord and Christ.  The same word in Greek is used and any true Christian knows Jesus was Lord and the Christ before He ever came to this earth and took on flesh.  The meaning clearly in Acts 2:36 would be in reference to being appointed, declared, ordained, to be Lord and Christ by God.  The key in understanding this is the context of the Scriptures.  As has been stated before there is no place of any sacrifice being offered to God was ever considered to become literally sin in the Old Testament.  Would that change with Jesus?  Jesus holy, sinless, and an unblemished sacrifice for our sins, anything less would invalidate His death on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-22, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Hebrews 4:15)

1 Peter 2:24

“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;  for by His wounds you were healed.”

Some people believe this Scripture is proof positive that Jesus became sin in the sense of Him having sin in His body to atone for our sins.  This may seem solid at first but after examining this more closely this is reading into the text without giving it the proper exegesis.  In His body is in reference to the way sin was dealt with, namely through His shed blood, death on the cross, and that prophecy was being fulfilled.  The word “in” in the Greek is “en” (Strongs 1722) which has various meanings:  in, on, by,  among, through, upon, openly, outwardly…  Our sins He bore in His body meaning it was in the body of flesh that Christ came to make atonement for our sins.

Another way of understanding this is simply seeing that Jesus bore our sins in His body through His shed blood that brings atonement and reconciliation. (Colossians 1:19-22)  In Isaiah 53:4-5 it states:  “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (NASB)  Notice in these verses words “Himself bore” which means to take away, lifted up, carried, which in simplicity means these griefs were going to be taken away.  “He was pierced through” is pretty obvious.  This means Jesus gave His life as an atonement and through His life being pierced or that He was crucified for mankind’s sins.  The same is said of His being crushed meaning He was afflicted, oppressed, and humbled for our sins.  Jesus came to this earth as the One to come, the Messiah, and Jesus humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of man and gave His life for us. (Phil. 2:5-8)   It states “The chastening for our well being fell upon Him”, meaning He took our place on the cross, our substitutionary.  In the Old Testament God had the high priest offer up holy and unblemished sacrifices for sins to be atoned for, and in the same way Jesus sacrificed Himself for mankind’s sins on the cross.  Finally, it states “by His scourging” which is in reference to His shed blood, sacrifice, and His death on the cross was a sin offering which Isaiah 53:10 confirms.

What Jesus and the Scriptures Teach

John 4:31-38 “31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 “Do you not say, `There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 “For in this case the saying is true, `One sows and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” Jesus taught them that He had food to eat and work to complete in reference to His sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus will was to do that which the Father sent Him to do.

John 6:30-40 “30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus came to do the will of the Father and lived a sinless life which would mean He did do the will of the Father. The main reason why Jesus came was to set us free from our sins by His broken body and shed blood giving His life as an atonement. The will of the Father was for the Son to come as the bread of life to which whosoever would believe on Him would be saved and have eternal life.

John 6:47-58 “47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 “I am the bread of life. 49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” All this represents Christ’s death on the cross for which He came to make atonement for all. To those who would believe and eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood will have eternal life. This means taking Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, and partaking of His sufferings with communion. Christ knew exactly what He came to do and taught it continuously throughout His ministry.

John 10:14-18 “14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” Jesus clearly states that He is going to lay down His life for the sheep and that He is going to also rise from the grave. Jesus says no one takes it from Him but lays it down on His own initiative freely. Jesus says He has the authority to lay it down and to take it up again which means Jesus knew exactly what He came to do and what was going to happen both in His death and resurrection. This He received from the Father which Jesus knew from the beginning.

John 14:1-6 “1 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus told His disciples He is going to prepare a place for them for which they can be one day. Jesus said the only way to the Father was through Him which Jesus had to give His life as a ransom for which one could be saved and go to the very presence of the Father. Jesus was confident that He was going to the Father and one day would bring them also which indicates Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen in advance.

John 19:28-30 “28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Here is the final part of Jesus ministry in reference to His coming to make atonement. Jesus knew that all was fulfilled and said “It is finished” which paid our dept in full. All was fulfilled and Jesus completed that which He came to do from the Father.

Hebrews 10:5-12 “12 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; 6 IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. 7 “THEN I SAID, `BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME ) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’ ” 8 After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), 9 then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.” Jesus knew why He came and acknowledged that His body was prepared by the Father and came to do the will of God. The will of God was for Jesus to give His life as an offering for sin once and for all and Jesus fulfilled the will of God.

Does It Really Matter?

I said in the beginning does it really matter what you believe about this subject, and I believe it does. Stating that Jesus was separated from Father and became literal sin is dangerous and here is why. To say Jesus became sin to which the Father separated Himself from Him would indicate that a moment in time Jesus was alone apart from the Father which would make Him unholy. If Jesus became literal sin, then Jesus was no longer holy with the Father and no longer one with the Father. If Jesus somehow lost for a moment the union with the Father then Jesus would not be a worthy sacrifice for our sins. Did Jesus not have the presence of the Holy Spirit with Him? The Bible says in Psalm 139:7 “Where can I flee from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” There is no way Jesus could not be in the very presence of the Holy Spirit, and there is no way Jesus could loose His union with the Father. To be literal about this, this teaching contradicts the very Scriptures concerning what Jesus did and who He is. Jesus was the perfect lamb who shed His blood and died on a cross to set us from living a sinless life. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world as John the Baptist said in John 1:29.

Another thing to consider. If Jesus really meant ‘My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me’ meaning that Jesus was implying He was separated. The question is, was Jesus questioning the Father? See if Jesus was saying ‘WHY’ then that would imply that He did not understand why this happened and could even be questioning the Father. That would mean Jesus had fear and doubt which would mean Jesus sinned right then. The Bible states “whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) The fact is Jesus was not talking to the Father but was telling the people He was indeed the Messiah, the Anointed One to come, and was not forsaken of God, but was going to be delivered.

Be careful of these teachings especially!!!

There are those who teach that Jesus not only paid our dept with His body but with His Spirit of which He took our sins upon Himself which we would be eternally separated from the Father, Jesus died in our place. That may sound right but did Jesus really suffer our punishment on the cross? Some within the Word Faith Movement say Jesus took on the very nature of Satan on the cross by becoming sin, some say Jesus had to go to hell and suffer there and take our place (spiritual death) and on the third day rise again from the grave as the first born again man which opens the door for us to be saved. (Some of them are Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price)  Is that Biblical? The Bible clearly states that Jesus was sinless in Hebrews 4:15 which says: “For we do not have a high priest who can not sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been temped in all things as we are, yet without sin.” The Bible clearly states Jesus work on the cross paid our dept in full as John 19:30 says: “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” The Bible clearly states that Christ purchased the Church with His own blood as Acts 20:28 says: “Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” It was Jesus’ physical death on the cross that satisfied the requirement for reconciliation from man to God, not the false teaching that Jesus tasted spiritual death for everyone by being separated from the Father on the cross.  To teach that Jesus suffered in hell tasting spiritual death, became the very nature of Satan on the cross, that Jesus had to be born again in hell as the first born again person, and to teach this is the gospel message for our salvation and for our sins being atoned for is blasphemy and false gospel.

There is much more that could be quoted and commented on in this subject. I believe it is clear that Jesus knew exactly what He came to do and why the Father sent Him. Jesus continuously taught His disciples and the crowds what He came to do, of which Jesus fulfilled the will of God by being obedient to the point of death, even on a cross. You decide Biblically whether or not Jesus was separated from the Father, or Jesus believed it Himself. Those who teach that Jesus was separated from the Father have some serious issues that need to be resolved.. First is, that person does not understand the Gospel in it’s simplicity; second is, that person is not representing what Jesus and the Apostles taught; third is, that person is not reading things in context from Scripture within the passage and as a whole; fourth is, that person has some red flags. I ask all who read this to pray, study, and seek the Lord concerning this issue and may God bless you.

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