What Does the Bible Say About..God Turning His Back?

Does the Bible say anything about God having to turn His back on Jesus when He died on the cross? Someone told me this, but I can't ever remember reading it in the Bible anywhere.

Answer

Shortly before Jesus died he quoted Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) The common interpretation is that God had to “turn his back” on Jesus because at this time he was bearing all the sins of the world. The idea is that if God cannot abide sin, he had to forsake Jesus who was bearing all sin. The idea of turning his back on Jesus is verbal shorthand for saying he rejected him, since in English (and possibly some other cultures) turning one’s back symbolizes rejection. Nowhere does the Bible actually say God turned his back on Jesus.

Another valid, but less common, interpretation is that Jesus is calling on God for help. Since in the Jewish way of thinking quoting a passage is quoting the entire context, by quoting the start of Psalm 22 Jesus is making reference to the whole Psalm. A number of things in that psalm were fulfilled in the crucifixion, but the main idea of the psalm is crying to God to sustain in times of trouble. So Jesus may have been identifying himself as Messiah and asking God to help him endure what he had to do.

Please see Why Did He Say That? for my article about why Jesus quoted Psalm 22.