Although Jesus was suffering each time He uttered a cross word, no other one depicts His pain and anguish more than the fourth cross word: “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” Both physically and spiritually, Jesus experienced a fierce tormenting. God the Son was forsaken by His Father and in terrible agony, but God the Father would not and could not possibly ever fail His only begotten Son.
At the end of the three hours of darkness, Jesus’ agony came to a climax at the ninth hour. God the Father brought all His wrath on Jesus as He was “made sin” for us. According to William Hendriksen, the author of The Gospel of Matthew, “The link between the cry and the darkness is very close: the first is a symbol of the agonizing content of the second.” At the ninth hour, Christ, in all His pain, cried out from the depths of hell, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
For a time, God the Father forsook His Son’s human nature. But, “His God and Father would not have abandoned Him to His tormentors if it had not been necessary. But it was necessary, in order that He might fully undergo the punishment due to His people’s sins” (Hendriksen). Jehovah forsook Him temporarily, and then brought Him out of the depths of hell. If God had forever forsaken Christ, salvation would have completely failed and Christ would be lost in hell. That is an important connection since the Lord said in Josh. 1:5, “I will never fail thee.” Therefore we, as members of the covenant, will always be safe in our Father’s hands.
Not only is this a great comfort to us, but when we see the intense suffering of our Savior, we gain a better knowledge of our salvation. We can learn to feel truly sorry for our sins.
So as you look into this fourth cross word, you see that Christ was not lost in hell because salvation had to be accomplished. Christ, in the depths of hell, was in agony, but not lost.