On the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” (Mark 15:34)According to the Gospel of Mark, this is the last thing Jesus said before his spirit left his body at the time of his body's death:
Then Jesus cried out loudly, and his spirit passed. (Mark 15:37)
Who is Eloi?
Notice that Jesus calls out to the Supreme Being using the Holy Name, Eloi - ἐλωΐ (elōï).
This Greek word with Chaldean origin is derived from the Hebrew word, אֱלָהּ, or elahh in Aramaic.
The word quite literally means, "My God." This equates to a personal God - a Supreme Being who is very dear - dear enough to be considered "mine."
In other words, Jesus was calling out to a Supreme Being who is very dear to Jesus. Jesus feels affection towards the Supreme Being. This is why his most important instruction is to love the Supreme Being with all our heart and soul:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)So Jesus doesn't only teach us to love God. He also loves God himself, as indicated by his use of this intimate Name of God, Eloi.
Did God forsake or abandon Jesus?
Most sectarian translations translate Jesus' statement in Mark 15:34 to either, "...why have you forsaken me?" or "...why have you abandoned me?"
These translations assume that the Supreme Being could either abandon Jesus or forsaken Jesus. This could only mean the translators do not know the Supreme Being Jesus is calling out to.
(Indeed, many have incorrectly identified Jesus as God - which would mean that Jesus would be, according to their translation, calling out to himself accusing himself of abandoning himself. A quite ridiculous proposition.)
They must not know the Supreme Being because the Supreme Being does not forsake any of His children, let alone forsake His confidential loving servant and representative, Jesus.
According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary, to "forsake" (or "forsook") means, "to renounce or turn away from entirely."
The Supreme Being doesn't turn away or renounce any of His children - even those who abandon or denounce Him. The Supreme Being is always merciful and kind. He is always ready to forgive us. He loves us unconditionally.
If God wasn't always ready to forgive us, Jesus would not have advised his students to include this request in their daily prayers:
"Please forgive our offenses, for we also forgive everyone who has offended us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2)And Jesus would not have made this request from God for those who were torturing him during his persecution:
"LORD, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)Why would Jesus ask God to forgive them in one moment, and then accuse God of forsaking him in the next moment?
Jesus didn't. This statement has been mistranslated. Jesus didn't think that God would abandon him. He always knew that God was there for him.
The scriptural basis for 'left me alone'
Jesus wasn't complaining about God abandoning him or forsaking him. The Greek word ἐγκαταλείπω (egkataleipō), which has been translated to "forsaken" or "abandon" can also mean, according to the lexicon, "to leave behind in some place, i.e. (in a good sense) let remain over." Note the point, "in a good sense" - from the lexicon. This negates "abandonment" or being "forsaken."
This use of the word ἐγκαταλείπω is appropriately communicated in the phrase, "left me alone"?
Jesus' statement comes from a place of devotion. It is not Jesus saying that God has abandoned him. It is speaking of the reality that sometimes the Supreme Being will leave a person alone to make our own choices. This is God giving each of us the freedom to love Him or not.
But when this occurs for a person who loves the Supreme Being, this is more appropriately called feeling separation from God.
This is basically loving God in separation. Missing the Supreme Being, in other words.
Yes, consider the confidential loving relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being. There are two general moods that can occur for such an enlightened lover of the Supreme Being: One is loving God in the mood of togetherness - feeling present with God and feeling God's presence.
The complementary mood is loving God in separation, which means missing the Supreme Being and wanting to be with Him. This feeling for God is also part of loving God.
This might be compared to how a couple might continue to love each other even when they are apart. That love - in separation - can sometimes even feel stronger than their love when they are present, because of the intensity of missing the one we love.
Such loving emotions are part of Jesus' confidential loving relationship with God. Those who don't truly seek love for God typically do not have entrance into such loving relationships.
And for those of us who have chosen at some point that they don't need the Supreme Being, this is the cause of loneliness - being separated from God, and forgetting our relationship with Him.
Jesus isn't the only person to communicate this type of love for God - in separation. Solomon also communicated his love of God in separation in his Song of Songs. King David also communicated this in Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have You left me alone?
Why are You so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
Yet You are enthroned as the Holy One;
You are the praise of Israel.
In You our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and You delivered them.
They cried to You and were saved;
in You they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
“He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let Him deliver him,
since he delights in Him.”
Yet You brought me out of the womb;
You made me trust in You
even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon You;
from my mother’s womb You have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
You lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
But You, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will declare Your Name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise You.
You who revere the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel!
For He has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
From You comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who revere You will I fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise Him—
may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before Him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD
and He rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve Him;
future generations will be told about the LORD.
They will proclaim His righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for He has done it.