Did Jesus stop being God when he was forsaken on the cross?

by Matt Slick

When Jesus was on the cross and our sin was imputed to him and he said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), did he stop being divine?  Did he stop being the Son of God?  The answer is simple and extremely important.  No, he did not stop being divine.  He did not stop being the Son of God.  To say that he lost his divine nature and stopped being the Son of God is false doctrine and very dangerous.  Please consider the following points...

  1. If Jesus stopped being divine on the cross, then this would contradict the doctrine of the incarnation which says the person of Jesus has two natures: divine and human.  If Jesus stopped being divine, then he was no longer the same person that he was when he was conducting his ministry.  He would be a different person, he would only have the attributes of humanity and not the attributes of both humanity and divinity.  This is critical.  Jesus is both divine and human, and necessarily as a single person would have attributes of both natures (communicatio idiomatum).  But to say he lost his divine nature would be equivalent to saying the person of Jesus changed on the cross and no longer possessed those divine attributes.  This is very dangerous theologically because of the next point...
  2. If Jesus stopped being divine on the cross, then how is his sacrifice of divine value sufficient to cleanse people and their sins, as well as appease God the Father?  One of the reasons the sacrifice of Christ is unlike the mere sacrifice of a human being is because Jesus has two natures; divine and human. Without the divine nature, Christ's sacrifice can only have human value.
  3. If Jesus stopped being the son of God, and was no longer divine on the cross, then would that make the sacrifice of Jesus any better than, for example, the belief held by the Jehovah's Witnesses who say that Jesus was only a man on the cross?

I hope that it is clear that to say Jesus lost his divine nature on the cross when our sins were reckoned to him, is a dangerous and false teaching.  Such a doctrine should be rejected by the Christian church as being heretical.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.