In our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. As we celebrate Easter, we wanted to look at Mark 15:34.
And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemà sabachthàni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:
Greek pronunciation: en kah tah LAY poh
CSB translation: abandon
Uses in Mark’s gospel: 1
Uses in the NT: 10
Focus passage: Mark 15:34
The Greek verb enkataleipō is a double compound that produces an intensive form of a verb meaning “to lack or leave” (leipō). With one exception (Rm 9:29), each occurrence of the term in the NT means forsake or abandon. In Mk 15:34 and Mt 27:46, enkataleipō is used to translate the Aramaic word sabach, which in turns translates the original Hebrew ‘azab in Ps 22:1. Jesus’s quoting of this verse occurred toward the end of three hours of darkness (Mk 15:33) during which he endured God’s wrath by being separated from the Father as payment for the sins of mankind. The word enkataleipō also occurs in Heb 13:5: “I will never … abandon you.” Since this promise is addressed to believers, it indicates that while God was willing to abandon Jesus on the cross in order to redeem us, he is not now willing to abandon those whom he has redeemed.
Reading about Jesus asking God “Why have you abandoned me?” is always heartbreaking. We know how the story ends, but it’s in that moment that many feel most connected to Jesus because we, too, have felt like God has abandoned us. And while this of course makes the resurrection that much more meaningful, being able to connect with Jesus in this way is powerful–see? Even Jesus felt abandoned.
We understand that feeling. It’s a hard place to be, and there are many reasons one might feel abandoned by God. Yet, God will never leave that which he has redeemed–why would he throw away those whom he has saved? The loneliness Jesus felt on the cross is another sacrifice made on our behalf so that we would never experience the absence of God.
This Easter, as we mourn the execution of our Savior and rejoice at his resurrection, let us also contemplate the very human emotions of loneliness and abandonment our Savior felt on the cross for our sake. Let us rejoice in a Son who would take a punishment reserved for us, and let us lean on a Father who will never leave.