My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1, NIV)
Among the reasons for the incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus of Nazareth, surely the atonement is the pinnacle of His work in the first advent. Knowing that He came to die casts a shadow over the celebration of His birth. But it is His death and resurrection that is the foundation of our hope.
On the cross, Jesus quoted the first line of this psalm shortly before He laid down his life (Matthew 27:46–50). Some have read Jesus’s words as expressing His fear, or the reality, that He would be rejected by His Father. Because of the shared intimacy of the Father and Son, a rupture in that relationship in which the Father spurned His Son or, even worse, killed Him, is unthinkable. Jesus has no reason to fear that His loving, merciful, omnibenevolent Father will abandon Him, harm Him, or turn His face away. In the psalm, David explicitly affirms his confidence that God “has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:24).
As Jesus died for the sins of the world, as the wages of all sin of all time were paid to Him in fulfillment of prophecy and the eternal plan of the triune God, He cried out to the only one who could deliver Him. Since this was how they had agreed to save the world, He died alone. The Father did not die with Him but the Father watched Him die alone. Jesus died alone.
The baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas grew up to become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He knows the challenges and struggles of life in this fallen world. He has been through what we go through, and He is returning to this world to make all things new. Together with the Father and the Spirit (see Revelation 21:3). And together with His beloved. Forever.