Can you remember times when you cried out those same words? What was happening in your life to make you think that God had forsaken you? Do you believe there are times when God no longer hears our cries? Are there times when God turns away from us? Had God turned away from Jesus as he suffered and died on the cross? Why would Jesus think that? Why would we think that? It's a disturbing thought!
Remember that up to this point in his life, Jesus was without sin. Though he was in the truest sense of the word born a human being, he was also one with God and therefore he had to be without sin - because God is without sin. Recall, also, the reasons why he came to this earth: He came to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand. He came to announce that God is merciful and loving and forgiving. He came to announce that he was God's Son, the Messiah for all mankind. He came to announce that he had come to die for the sins of all mankind and to win for us salvation. But in order for us to receive forgiveness and salvation, our sins have to be forgiven. And the only way for that to happen was for Jesus to plummet himself into the uttermost depths of the human experience. - to become as one with sin.
In our human experience, as life goes on and as bitter tragedy enters into it, there come times when we feel that God has forgotten us; when we are immersed in situations that are beyond our ability to understand and we feel God has abandoned us.
This is what happened to Jesus at that moment when he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" On the night he was arrested, while he was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, Jesus realized that he had to go and complete the mission for which he had been sent. He knew he had to do God's will, and that meant that he had to accept the worst of what man could do to him.
But could he have imagined the horrendous pain and suffering that would involve? Perhaps so. Maybe this is why he prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
When Jesus set his mind to do God's will, he also set his mind to go where he had never gone before. He set his mind on taking upon himself all the guilt and shame and sin of mankind, past, present, and future generations. He who was without sin bore the weight and consequence of our sins. And the consequence of sin is separation from God.
Now here is the point we must remember most. It would have been a terrible thing had Jesus not taken upon himself the consequence of our sins; for had that separation from God not occurred, then he could not have cried out, "It is finished!"
"It is finished" is the cry of a man who has completed his tak; it is the cry of the man who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of the man who has come out of the dark into the glory of light, and who has grasped the crown.
The lesson for us is that if we too cling to God, even when it seems God has forsaken us, the dawn of Easter morning will break through. Even when every fiber of our being feels that all hope is gone, we must hang on to our faith. Because the one who shares in the victory of the resurrection is the one who has been beaten to the depths of despair and still holds on to God, for that is what Jesus did.