"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land
until the ninth hour. 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?'
At the cross, for the first (and only) time in eternity, the Son experienced abandonment. Jesus called out to his Father, but got no answer. Jesus looked to his Father, but only saw his turned back. Jesus cried out to him, but received no comfort. Only absolute abandonment. The Son was forsaken.
This is the grave, yet beautiful truth of Christ's substitution. Jesus experienced the pain of having the Father turn his back on him, so that we wouldn't have to. Because Jesus turned to God and only saw the back of the Father, when we turn to the Father, all we experience is open arms. Whereas Jesus reached for the comfort of His father but received none, when we reach for the Father, we receive comfort. Though we were the ones who deserve absolute abandonment, Jesus' love is so great that he came to earth to experience the forsakenness we deserve, so that we would be united to Him. The Father turned his head away from Jesus so that he would never have to turn his head away from us. Jesus saw the Father's back; closed off and forsaken. We see the Father's face; open, and ready to embrace sinners who turn to Him.