I would like for us to consider what I believe was God's most painful moment, the most painful moment for our Lord when He was on this earth. Immediately our minds race to the crucifixion. We think of the Roman whip, that cat of nine tails that ripped into His skin and skeletal tissues, exposing vital organs. Was that it? That was a painful moment to say the least - extremely painful. It is one of the most horrific things that a person could go through. But as bad as that was, I don't think it was God's most painful moment. Was the crucifixion itself, where spikes were pounded into His hands and His feet, where He had to press His shredded back against the cross for a gulp of air? That was horrific as well. But as bad as that was, I don't think that was His most painful moment.
I believe it is found in Matthew 27: "Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about 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?' " (verses 45-46).
These words surprise us. They disarm us and cause us to wonder what He meant. It is hard for us as human beings to even fathom what was taking place here. To begin with, it was a fulfillment of the prophetic words of Psalm 22:1, which says, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" But these were not the delusions of a man in pain. His faith was not failing Him. I believe that as Christ hung there at this moment, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was dying as a substitute for us. To Him was imputed the guilt of all of our sins and He was suffering the necessary punishment for those sins on our behalf. And the essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God's wrath against sinners.
In some mysterious way that we can never fully understand, during these awful hours on the cross, the Father was pouring out the full measure of His wrath against sin and the recipient of that wrath was His own beloved Son. God was punishing Jesus as though He had personally committed every wicked deed committed by every wicked sinner. And in doing so, He could treat and forgive those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ's perfect life of righteousness.
Taken from "God's Most Painful Moment" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).