Sorry to annoy you dear readers, but I'm going to have to post a third post this week, after finding yet another big name Protestant apologist making it clear that God the Father damned His Son Jesus in place of damning us. This time it's the website GotQuestions?, a popular online source where Protestants can get their theological questions answered from a conservative Protestant viewpoint. I'll try to make this brief since I mostly just want it to be a "for the record" type post.
The following quotes about what kind of suffering Jesus endured come from various Question & Answer posts on the GotQuestions? website, so I'll quote and provide the link to each (quotes are trimmed down for brevity).
- A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God.” The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf. Even though He is God, He still had to suffer the agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of the world He was carrying on the cross. After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:33-34). This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself. That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God, and God had to turn away from His own Son at that point in time. (Question: "What is spiritual death?")
- In those awful moments, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment as God placed the sins of the world on Him – and because of that had to “turn away” from Jesus. As Jesus was feeling that weight of sin, He was experiencing separation from God for the only time in all of eternity. (Question: Why did Jesus say, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?")
- As horrible as His physical suffering was, it was nothing compared to the spiritual suffering He went through. It was sin that caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). So, as brutal as Jesus' physical suffering was, it was nothing compared to His having to bear our sins and die to pay the penalty for them (Romans 5:8). Some think that Jesus' physical torture was part of His punishment for our sins. To some extent, this is true. At the same time, the torture Jesus underwent speaks more of the hatred and cruelty of humanity than it does of God's punishment for sin. (Question: Why did Jesus have to experience so much suffering?)
What we see here is the usual Protestant approach, quote Psalm 22 and jump to all kinds of horrendous conclusions: conclude Jesus spiritually died, conclude the eternal fellowship between Jesus and the Father was broken, and conclude that the physical sufferings of Jesus were basically irrelevant. The way the last response is worded, it suggests that Jesus underwent two forms of suffering, a physical suffering at the hands of men, and a spiritual suffering at the hands of God the Father. The physical sufferings are completely downplayed and even suggest that the physical suffering wasn't technically part of Jesus' suffering for our sins. What is astonishing though is how GotQuestions? addresses the passage of Psalm 22 in another answer they gave:
In Psalm 22, we hear David’s anguish: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” It remains a mystery to David why God does not intervene and end his suffering and pain. Did God ever answer David? Yes, many centuries later, David received his answer. Roughly one millennium later, a descendant of David named Jesus was killed on a hill called Calvary. On the cross, Jesus endured the suffering and shame of his forefather. Christ’s hands and feet were pierced. Christ’s garments were divided among his enemies. Christ was stared at and derided. In fact, Christ uttered the words with which David opens this psalm: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” thus identifying Himself with the suffering of David. The cross of Christ can be regarded as the ultimate manifestation of God’s justice. When asked how much God cares about the problem of evil and suffering, the Christian God can point to the cross and say, “That much.” Christ experienced rejection from God, saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Question: "What does the Bible say about suffering?")
What is astonishing about this response is that it tells us what David meant by "forsaken"! The very next words of David's mouth are "Why are you so far from rescuing me?" God did not intervene to end David's suffering of persecution. Was David undergoing spiritual death when he said those words? No! Was the fellowship between God and David broken when David said those words? No! So why, all of the sudden, do Protestants read these outrageous ideas into the text when Jesus speaks these same words?
Jesus quoting Psalm 22 from the Cross was for our benefit, Jesus was telling us to pull out our Bible and look up Psalm 22 and see what it says - "despised by the people" (22:6); "all who see me mock me" (22:7); "they have pierced my hands and feet" (22:16); "for my clothing they cast lots" (22:18); "God has not hidden his face from me" (22:24) - Jesus wanted the Jews at the time (and us today) to have their jaws drop as they saw a Messianic prophecy fulfilled before their very eyes!