Matthew 27:46 states:
- 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?”
William Branham's interpretation
William Branham stated that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the anointing left Jesus because he had to die as a sinner. William Branham stated that on the cross:
- Jesus died as a man (and not as God).
- Jesus died screaming for help
- Jesus died crying for mercy
- Jesus was separated from God
Sadly, while these things are believed by those that follow the message of William Branham, they are not true and are not found in the Bible.
What the Bible says
The following is the total recorded statements that Jesus said while on the cross:
- 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?” ...
- And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
- And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ...
- And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.
- And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
- Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
- When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
- After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
- When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
What the Bible teaches
As can be seen from the scriptures above, the Bible contains nothing that could be interpreted as Jesus screaming for help or crying for mercy while He was on the cross.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
The words "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" are taken directly from the opening of Psalm 22; a psalm which expresses the spiritual desolation of a man who continues to trust and to appeal to God in spite of the fact that his ungodly opponents mock and persecute him with impunity. In the end, the psalm turns to joyful thanksgiving for deliverance.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reveals His remarkable ability to say in very few words incredible wisdom. This is one of these cases.
Jesus is dying on the cross and is surrounded by soldiers, onlookers as well as some people who are very close to him (including his mother, Mary and John the beloved). When Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", he was not questioning God. No! But then what does this phrase mean?
In our view, He was very clearly stating to those at the foot of the cross something very profound. He was telling them, "If you want to understand what is really going on here, go and read Psalm 22. I told you that I would have to die but this is not the end! Victory is approaching! Read Psalm 22 and you will see what is coming next! Triumph!"
It is the latter part of the Psalm 22 that Jesus has in mind as well as its traumatic beginning, so that this is in effect a shout of defiant trust in the God whom He knows will rescue him.
Why is it that throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus frequently refers to God as his Father but never as “my God”? Why does he always in prayer use “Father” to address God (Matt 6:9; 11:25, 26; 26:39, 42). Even though the cross was in view in Gethsemane, Jesus could still address and trust God as his “Father.”
The simple explanation is that Jesus was clearly referring to Psalm 22 and that is the only reason that He did not refer to His Father. We was clearly telling the disciples to look at Psalm 22 in order to understand what was going on.
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so vfar from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
- 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
- 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on athe praises1 of Israel.
- 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
- 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
- 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
- 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
- 8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
- 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
- 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
- 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
- 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
- 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—
- 17 I can count all my bones — they stare and gloat over me;
- 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
- 19 But you, O LORD, ndo not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
- 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
- 21 Save me from fthe mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
- 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
- 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
- 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
- 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
- 26 The afflicted shall seat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!
- 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
- 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
- 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
- 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
- 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Did God "abandon" Jesus?"
As the Logos, Jesus was never abandoned by God. Jesus, who was God, suffered no damage to his divine nature on the cross. Christ was abandoned by God neither with regard to the union of the two natures nor with regard to divine grace. It is true that he went through the experience of suffering. However, the ancient church was in agreement that Christ’s cry was not to be understood as an expression of deepest despair but was to be interpreted in terms of the victory to which his death on the cross leads.
Furthermore, there is no Biblical evidence that the Spirit of God left Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In fact, there are several passages that directly refute William Branham's interpretation on this issue which are dealt with in our article on John 18:6.
Quotes of William Branham
And when He died up there at Calvary, screaming and crying for help, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He was a man in His death, but in His resurrection He proved He was the Divine Son of God 
He was a man when He cried for mercy, when He said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" He died like a man. Yes. But when He rose on Easter morning, He proved He was God.
He was a man when He died on Calvary for a sacrifice, bleeding, the blood running out of Him like a mortal, spit hanging all over His beard. And He was a man disgraced, standing there hanging in shame, taking our place. He was a man when the pains got so great till He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
When Jesus died yonder at Calvary for a propitiation for our sins, he died not a just man but a sinner, not of His own, but mine and your sins sent Him to the regions of the lost. And I can see Him when He died yonder on Calvary, hanging between the malefactors, crying, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
He was a Man on Calvary when He cried for mercy. That's right. He was a Man when He cried, "My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" But when He rose up on Easter morning, breaking the tomb sealed, and hell and death was destroyed, He proved that He was the Son of God.
He cried for mercy at Calvary, that's true. He cried, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
When He died nineteen hundred years ago, day before yesterday, hanging on a cross, screaming for mercy, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He died like a Man.
When He died at Calvary, He did cry for mercy, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
Sin had separated Him. God placed our sins upon Him, and He was separated from God, and that's why He cried, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And because He was forsaken, and had taken this place, and seen His people, that He was come to be their Saviour and to offer them Life, they had rejected Him. And it grieved Him so, till He was so broken-hearted until the Blood and water, and the chemicals of His body, separated.
When He was--last cry, "Eli, Eli. My God, My God," That was a man. "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" In the Garden of Gethsemane, the anointing left Him, you know, He had to die as a sinner. He died a sinner, you know that; not His sins, but mine and yours. That's where that love come in, how He took mine. Oh, hallelujah, how He took mine.
It was a man that cried for mercy on the cross. That's right. "My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" He died crying for mercy. That's right. 
When He died at the cross, He cried like a man. "My God, have mercy. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
He was a man when He cried at Calvary, "My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" He was a man when He was crying for mercy.
It was a man that cried for mercy at the cross, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But on Easter morning when He broke the seals of death, hell, and the grave, and rose up again and said, "I'm He that was dead and alive forevermore, that was more than a man. That was God in His Son. Amen.
The Spirit left Him, in the garden of Gethsemane. He had to die, a man. Remember, friends, He didn't have to do that. That was God. God anointed that flesh, which was human flesh. And He didn't… If He'd have went up there, as God, He'd have never died that kind of death; can't kill God. But He didn't have to do it.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 27:46–50.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 27:46-50.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk 15:34–37.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Lk 23:34-46.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 19:26–30.
- R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007), 1075–1076; and Barclay Moon Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1992), 863.
- Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ps 22:1–31.
- Ulrich Luz, Matthew 21–28: a Commentary, ed. Helmut Koester, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2005), 545.
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