There are two (actually three, with John having Him say a matter-of-fact summation of his mission on earth: “It is Finished”) versions of what Jesus Christ said as he suffered and neared death on the cross at Golgotha. The first: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?”
Mark and Matthew attribute this to the dying Christ. It has been interpreted through the centuries as a cry of utter despair and fading hope.
Luke, perhaps finding such words repugnant as it suggests a slide into black doubt, says that Christ’s words were actually: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” Modern believers are more comfortable with Luke’s version, as His dying words are more in keeping with common doctrinal teachings that God will look after us and never leave us.
For all we know, He may have uttered both, they are not incompatible.
But I personally find the Mark and Matthew portrayal more realistic, more believable. We can easily relate to it. Who has not, at some dark hour, cried out to the heavens in anguish and pain and wondered if indeed we have been cursed and abandoned by God ? Jesus was a man, after all, and revealed his humanity many times, in many ways. Why not in death ?
Philip Yancey points out that it is this single time, of all His prayers in the Gospels, that Jesus used the formal, distant “God” rather than “Abba” or “Father”. He was quoting from a psalm (Psalm XXII,18), of course, but he was also expressing a deep sense of estrangement. The Son abandoned by the Father. No theologian can adequately explain the nature of what took place within the Trinity on that day in Calvary.
I find this the most poignant example of Christ’s humanity. It brings me closer to Him as we are all, at many difficult times in our lives, children who feel abandoned by the Father. But somehow we are given the strength and grace to surrender and say: “Thy will be done”