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If Jesus was God who was he crying to on the cross?
Thank you for your question. The subject of your query is one over which there is certainly a great deal of mystery and debate. It is an area of Christian teaching that is not easy for us as finite human beings to understand, but that is not a problem - in fact it should be a relief to us when we come to understand that the God who created the Universe is far bigger than we can comprehend! If we could contain everything about God in our relatively small brains, that would indicate a god who was on the same level as us, and that wouldn’t be a god at all!
The simple answer to your question is that Jesus was crying to God the Father when He was on the cross but this does not make Jesus any less God. This opens up for us the teaching on what we call the Trinity - the fact that the God of the Bible is one God, and yet is three distinct persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is not easy for our natural minds to take in, but the Bible clearly presents this teaching - the word ‘Trinity’ is not used, but each person belonging to the Godhead is clearly proclaimed as divine, and equal to each other. Many people will have an issue with Jesus being fully God, but consider these verses that teach this for us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14).
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).
[Jesus said] "I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God" (John 10:30-33)
For in him [Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9)
I’m not sure you can get much more clarity than in these passages - John’s Gospel frequently proclaims that Jesus, the Word from God, wasn’t just a special man, but was God Himself. Jesus claimed for Himself the covenant name of God from the Old Testament (I am), and the Jews who hated Him knew exactly what He was claiming. Had Jesus not been God, He would surely have corrected their misunderstanding.
Lastly Paul, writing to the Colossians, proclaims that in Jesus the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in a human body. These verses, among others, point very clearly to Jesus' deity and He also states His choice to submit to His Father in the great mission of God to bring salvation to this world (John 14:28, Philippians 2:5-8) - this gives us two members of the Trinity, but what of the third member - the Holy Spirit? Consider these verses:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." (John 14:15-17)
While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (Acts 13:2)
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God." (Acts 5:3-4)
There is so much truth regarding the Holy Spirit in the verses above - He is spoken of personally by Jesus as the One that He would pray to the Father and ask to be sent into the world to dwell with the disciples - notice the clarity of distinction between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also said to speak (to the church in Acts 13), to have a will (in distributing gifts to the church), to have emotions (He can be grieved), and lastly Peter indicates as clearly as he could that Ananias has lied to the Holy Spirit, which equates directly with lying to God.
So this is the teaching of the Bible - the God of the Bible is not just a singular person, He is one God but in three persons - all perfectly united together in a way that is hard for us to describe or understand.
As we go back to the original subject of your question though it says something incredible to us about what was happening as Jesus died on the cross. There are seven things recorded in the Bible for us that Jesus said while dying on the cross - some to the people standing around Him, and some of which are the subject of your question, where He is crying out to His Father.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Here we see one of the most powerful indicators of what Jesus was doing as He hung on the cross, as we see the first member of the Trinity, the Father, turning away from His Son, the second person of the Trinity. These two members of the Godhead, who had existed eternally in perfect love and fellowship were being separated for a time. Jesus was experiencing something He had never before experienced - alienation from His Father. It’s a mystery too deep for us to comprehend, though what we can understand something of is why it had to happen.
The Bible teaches that we are all sinful people, and that our sin and rebellion against God separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2) - we cannot be in fellowship with Him because He is too holy to even look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), and what is more we are all deserving of eternal death apart from God (Romans 6:23).
However, what Jesus was doing as He died 2000 years ago was taking the full weight of our sin upon Himself, bearing all of the consequences that we had earned for ourselves instead of us - Jesus died so that we could be given life, He was punished so that we could be forgiven, and indicated by this incredible statement above, He was forsaken by His Father so that we could be accepted.
This is the good news of the Bible - the Father sent the Son to save those who would trust Him from their sins, and now He sends the Holy Spirit to empower His people to live a new life of purity and love.
All that remains is for me to ask you whether you have put your faith in this triune God who loves you, and has given everything so that you could come into relationship with them through what Jesus has done? If not, I urge you to cry out yourself to God that He would forgive you, and grant you a new life - an everlasting life that will end in heaven together with Him forever.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Matthew 3:13-17
- Matthew 28:19
- 2 Corinthians 13:14
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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