Seventh-day Adventism's Misusage of Matthew 27

The Seventh-day Adventists, and their prophetess Ellen G. White, teach that while Jesus was on the Cross He was separated completely from "God," that He "lost" whatever "oneness" He had previously had with "God," and that the Father "hid His face" from Jesus. They try to use Matthew 27:46 to teach this, where Jesus said: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" But, as we will see, they are completely misusing this verse.

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First of all, please watch the following video, in which Baptist pastor and author Tony Campolo explains the meaning of Jesus' words in Matthew 27:46 (which are actually a quotation of the opening words of Psalm 22) to Christian comedian/singer Mark Lowry (starting at about the 1:45 mark):

Notice that Campolo says: "Well, first of all, God did not forsake Jesus when He was on the cross. The Bible is quite specific and says 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.' [...] You cannot ever separate Jesus from God, or God from Jesus, because Jesus is God."

The penalty for our sin is "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46). Those who reject Jesus Christ are guilty of an "eternal sin" (Mark 3:29). Our sin is against an infinite God, and therefore we deserve an infinite punishment. So, how could Jesus have paid the price for our sin by dying on the Cross? Because He is the infinite God, and His sacrifice is of an infinite value. Because He is the infinite God, Jesus was able to pay an infinite price by dying on the Cross for our sins. The Bible teaches that it was His physical death, His blood shed for us that atoned for our sins. 1 Peter 2:24 tells us: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross" (NASB). Notice that it was in His body, not His spirit, that He bore our sins. As the old hymn says, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus"! The Son could not have been separated from the Father, since there is only one divine spirit--one undivided and indivisible God, who is outside of time and is unchangeable. And if we say that it was His humanity that was separated from God, then we separate Him into two persons (one human and one divine) and enter the realm of the ancient heresies of Gnosticism and Nestorianism (and then it would only be a man that died for us). Also, if His spirit was separated from God, then that would mean that He would have to be "born again" and that His spirit was dead (and sinful and was at enmity with, and against, God!)--just like our spirits which are separated from God have to be "born again." But these conclusions would be blasphemous since Jesus is the holy God! Jesus was always spiritually "alive"--His spirit was never "dead" (the Biblical definition of being "separated from God").

The New Testament epistles teach over and over that it was Jesus' death on the Cross that saved us and atoned for our sins. They never say that Jesus was separated from God, or that that is how He suffered the penalty for our sin (and if that is how He paid the penalty, then why did He even need to die physically?). There is nothing like that in the direct, didactic teachings of the New Testament. So we can't take one quote from the narrative of the Gospels, and extrapolate a whole teaching from that, which the apostles themselves never do (and which would actually contradict their teaching that it was His death that paid the penalty).

In fact, as Campolo points out, Paul tells us that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB). And Jesus said: "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." (John 16:32 NASB.)

So the Father did not forsake Him (like His disciples did)!

So then how do we interpret Jesus' words in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 ("My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?")? Does this contradict any of the above? Well, all we have to do is look at the context of both Matthew 27 and Psalm 22, and we will see that it actually fits perfectly, as Campolo points out.

Matthew purposefully, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, puts the following all together:

"In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying,
42'He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.
43'HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.''
44The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.
45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?' that is, 'MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?'" (Matthew 27:41-46 NASB.)

Notice how those words in verse 43 are in all caps, indicating a quote from the Old Testament? Well, those words are a quotation of Psalm 22, the same Psalm that Jesus is quoting in verse 46! They were fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22! So, Jesus' answer to their mocking in verse 43 was His words in verse 46, directing them to Psalm 22. As Campolo explains, the Jews would quote the first line of a Psalm, in order to refer to that Psalm. So Jesus was quoting the first line of the Psalm, to direct everyone's attention to the entire Psalm. In essence, He was really quoting the whole Psalm (by quoting the first line)!

And if you read the whole Psalm, in context, it all becomes very clear. In fact, verse 24 even states explicitly that God did not even hide His face from Jesus, much less "forsake" (or abandon) Him:

"For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard." (Psalm 22:24 NASB.)

So, since Jesus was quoting the first line of this Psalm and directing everyone to the entire Psalm, then this shows that He was fully aware of what the whole Psalm said and that He was saying that He knew that God had not forsaken Him at the exact same time that He was quoting the first line!

In other words, it was as if He were quoting the whole Psalm all at once, which states in verse 24 that He knew that God had not forsaken Him, and also in that chapter that He knew He would rise again (which Ellen G. White denies, saying that He "could not see through the portals of the tomb"). White also directly contradicts Psalm 22:24, saying that the Father did "hide His face" from Jesus.

So, at the very moment that Jesus quoted the opening line of Psalm 22, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?," He was saying that knew that He had not forsaken Him (the rest of the Psalm)!

And here are just a few additional Scriptures which teach that it was Jesus' death on the Cross that atoned for our sins:

"nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.
26Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:25-26 NASB.)

"For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time." (Hebrews 10:10 NLT.)

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison," (1 Peter 3:18-19 NASB.)

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