And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Mark 15:34
It is hard to read these words without pausing and having to reflect on their depth.
Jesus is quoting from psalm 22:1. The land had been in darkness from the 6th hour until the 9th hour. But not a normal darkness. Some say it was an eclipse. Some say it was the Father who turned his face away, and Jesus was forsaken, abandoned, deserted. The Darkness is a symbol of Gods judgement on sin, it is a supernatural darkness as the weight of sin is placed on Jesus and He who knew no sin became sin for us.
He has reached the culminating point of his anguish, he has been treading the winepress for hours. There are few sentences in the bible that contain such pain and anguish. But to understand this, or shed some more light on this, as I believe what we have here is a mystery, we need to take a few steps back to the garden of gethsemane.
For it is here that Jesus truly saw what was in front of him as He drank the cup of the father. His soul was sorrowful to the point of death and Jesus cries, abba father, everything is possible for you yet not my will but yours be done.
If it is possible, remove this cup, but not my will but yours be done.
And it is this cup that Jesus is not drinking of on the cross. Enduring what defies our imagiation. With no voice of well done good and faithful servant, or angels strengthening him or supporters rallying around him. He is completely alone.
It is not that he bears some relation to sinners, it is that He is numbered with the transgressors.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He became The passover lamb, whose blood covers us and saves us from death.
John the Baptist twice referred to Jesus as a “lamb”: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29) and “He looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’” (John 1:36).
It was no mistake that the shepherds who were at the birth of Jesus were no ordinary shepherds. It is generally thought that the sheep that that they looked after were destined for temple sacrifices. Part of their job was to certify those lambs that were suitable for sacrifice or to decide if they could be released for common purposes. It is also thought the those who were certified as suitable would be wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Can you see what is happening? It makes perfect sense that the shepherds who came to see Jesus are those that certify the lambs for sacrifice, for here was born the ultimate sacrifice and is the lamb to which John is referring to.
It is here that we measure the width and breadth and depth and height of his love. For He became the substitute, he took the punishment that was due to us. He took the punishment so I didn’t have to. He took my place.
It is in this moment he is grieving the fathers absence
He had always lived in the light of the Father and now there had been a darkness, a grave darkness over the land, yet he still remained obedient, even to death on a cross. For the love language of God is obedience. If you love Him you will obey him
And with that, let us hate the sin that put brought such agony on our Lord.