Matthew 27:46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

Jesus always calls God his father in the gospels. Why does he not here?

  • 2
    This type of question broaches complex issues regarding Jesus, in humanity, addressing God and the eternal Son addressing the Father. But up-voted +1, nevertheless.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 22:55
  • 2
    "Jesus always calls God his father in the gospels." Does he really? There's lots of times when he calls him "God".
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 0:03

6 Answers 6


As a reference see Why is Psalm 22:16 not quoted in the New Testament?

The answer is Jesus simply quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 to point us to Psalm 22, which depicts the Crucifixion.

  • 1
    This is the answer to the specific question being asked. The other answers provide helpful info (that Jesus uses both "God" and "Father" at different times), but this shows why he said "God" in that particular instance.
    – bob
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 13:03
  • Sometimes the brief answer is the best answer.
    – Austin
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 5:57

OP: Jesus always calls God his father in the gospels.

I don't agree with this statement. John 20:17 is a clear counterexample in which Jesus addressed the Father as both Father and God:

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” [John 20:17, ESV]

OP: Why does he not here?

If we know from John 20:17 that Jesus can address the Father as God, then I see no reason to be surprised if he also addressed the Father as God at other times, such as during the crucifixion.


It is true that Jesus most often addressed the Father as "Father". However, there were several times when Jesus addressed the Father as "God" such as:

  • Mark 15:34 - At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (See also Matt 27:46)
  • John 20:17 - Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
  • Heb 10:7 - Then I said, ‘Here I am, it is written about Me in the scroll: I have come to do Your will, O God.’ ”
  • Rev 3:2 - Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
  • Rev 3:20 - The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.

Thus, while Jesus only seldom refers to the Father as "God" is not unknown.

To balance this, the Father also refers to Jesus as "God" as well in Heb 1:8 -

But about the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever, and justice is the scepter of Your kingdom.


Matthew 27:46

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

It is true that in the gospels, whenever Jesus is directly talking to/addressing God, he always uses the term Father. When he is not directly addressing God, he sometimes uses the term God.

Matthew 27:46 was the climactic moment of the cross. Being forsaken, he felt a degree of estrangement by the Father. This was the moment Jesus felt his naked humanity, in agony, and vulnerable to die. In his pure humanity, he called out "my God, my God".

Just before he died, he resumed the endearing term Father in Luke 23:46

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The Father-Son relationship was never broken, not even for a moment.


Let me ask another question to shed some light on this issue:

Why did angel had to come to Him in desert while he was fasting at the beginning of his mission?

Mark 1:13

and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Because Holy Spirit still didn't descended on him, this happened right after he was baptized:

Matthew 3:16-17

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Did he not had Spirit before that? Of course he did, but with baptism came this deep Fathers presence and revelation just like in life of real Christians. Remember that Jesus speaks distinctively about "Him" - Holly Spirit, the one who will came after He goes to Father:

John 16:7

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

And why is that - because of the sin. So Holly Spirit could not come to disciples unless their sin is removed. And who bore their sin on cross? Jesus. Jesus bore sins of the world but God could not be present in presence of sin - it's simply not possible because he is holly God.

Deuteronomy 21:22–23 teaches that there was a divine curse placed on a hanged person:

"And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance"

Jesus was hanging on the crucifixion tree - his form of punishment had to be aligned with cursed person punishment from Moses Law. How can Holly Spirit dwell in the person which is cursed by God - it can't. So when we say that Jesus bore our sin I don't think we fully understand what that means. I believe that in the moment's of agony while Jesus was hanging on cross he was left by Father and by Spirit as well. He was left by his disciples, he was totally alone.

Worst punishment was separation from Father which he began to feel far before cross - in Gethsemane.
Luke 22:41-43:

"He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.'" An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”

Why angel needed to come to him in similar way to help him like in the beginning of ministry? If you have Fathers' and Spirits' presence why you need angel to comfort you? Btw angels are serving spirits, comfort is something you receive from family ( not servants.

Hebrews 1:14

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

And how does it feel when the Father who was always there leaves you: Luke 22:44

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

I believe that from the moment the hour of darkness stroke Jesus began to fell as removed from Fathers/Spirits presence and weight of sin and curse of whole man kind started to ascend onto his being.

That's why he felt estranged to God and called him God and not Father.


The reason that Jesus usually calls God "Father" is to help us understand who he, as the "son," truly is, i.e. what relationship he has with God. He usually calls himself "the son of man" as well (exceptions may be interpreted in John 5:24 and 11:4), though others more often called him "the son of God" (as Jesus himself indicates in Luke 22:70).

The relationship between God and His Son is at the heart of the Gospel. Without this relationship, there would be no Gospel nor redemption. Therefore, this Father-Son relationship factors large in the Gospels.

Yet Jesus' words on the cross are specific for another reason. He wants his disciples to understand that his Father is also their Father, and his God is their God--and that their God is still very much alive, in spite of his own departure from them in death (for a time). None of Jesus' words or acts were done for selfish purposes: always they had importance and blessing for others.

Even after Christ rose again, and was for a few weeks longer with the disciples, he prepared them for his physical departure from them by teaching them the same lesson that his words on the cross had taught--that his God was their God, his Father was also their Father.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17, KJV)

This was said to provide his followers with comfort when they should be deprived of his visible presence.

While his words on the cross had been recorded in prophecy, it is not clear from the Bible alone that Jesus would have said them with the deliberate intent of quoting them as a means of identifying his Messiahship to his followers. We cannot know that he was at that moment thinking of the psalm. However, his words certainly did fulfill the prophecy, and they validate him as the true Messiah.

God, being immortal, could not have died; and Jesus' emphasis on the cross that God had departed from him or forsaken him makes it clear that it was not God who was dying. This may be one of the more significant reasons for Jesus' words here. Humanity died, divinity did not die.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.