The gospel writer Matthew
tells us that while Jesus Christ was hanging on the
cross a mysterious darkness covered the land for
three hours (Matthew 27:45). A strange, weird
darkness settled down over the world, obscuring the
sun until it could be seen no more. A supernatural
darkness came over the land from 12–noon until 3
p.m. It was a supernatural manifestation in the
natural world. The LORD God caused a darkness to
fall over the earth that lasted for three hours. The
entire created order was affected by this cosmic
event. It was as though all of creation was bowing
in sympathy with its Creator.
"All the land" can refer
to the land of Israel or to "all the earth."
darkness intensified the feeling of desolation and
despair for everyone who had gathered at the scene
of the crucifixion.
Jesus was "made to be
sin" on the sinner's behalf and experienced all of
the horror of an eternal separation from God.
Sin caused the Son of God
to cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
The darkness that covered
the land that eventual day cannot be explained as an
eclipse because it was Passover time, and an eclipse
is not possible with a full moon. Neither was it a
sandstorm, nor is there anything to indicate that a
local phenomenon in the environment of Jerusalem or
Judea caused it. The only conclusion you can come to
is God caused it.
The mysterious darkness
reminds us of the Day of the Lord in various
passages in the Old Testament. Amos declared, "'In
that day,' says the sovereign LORD, 'I will make the
sun set at noon, and make the earth dark in the
middle of the day'" (Amos 8:9 NET). Darkness
is even associated with judgment in several places
in the Hebrew prophets (Isa. 5:30; 13:10-11; Joel
The darkness over the
land points to God's judgment on sin. His own Son
was bearing the punishment of every sinner. "Jesus
Christ the righteous One . . . is the atoning
sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins
but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2 NET).
Darkness fell over the
scene of the crucifixion like a heavy curtain. Every
mouth was shut and a deadly silence crept over all.
It was like the sovereign God kept every sinful eye
from gazing at the infinite suffering of the Lamb of
Feelings of awe and
horror increased as the agonies of the crucifixion
moved to that infamous moment of the death of the
Son of God.
Almost at the close of
the three hours of darkness, feeling Himself
God–forsaken, Jesus cried out words of anguish in
the awful stillness of the darkness. His words
echoed through eternity and reverberated down the
centuries of time: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!"
That darkness meant
judgment. It was the coming judgment of God against
sin. It was the wrath of God burning itself out in
the very heart of Jesus as our substitute. In those
dark hours, hell came to Calvary that day. Our
Savior descended into it and bore its horrors in our
When the three hours of
intense darkness came to an end Jesus cried out, "My
God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" Jesus
was quoting Psalm 22:1.
How could an infinitely
holy God look upon His own Son who had become a
representative for sin? The Father had forsaken His
own Son! He was being made a sin offering. The wrath
of God was upon Him. He was being made a curse for
our sin. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the
law by becoming a curse for us (because it is
written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")
(Galatians 3:13, NET).
The apostle Paul gave us
the answer for what was happening during that
supernatural darkness. "He [God] made Him [Jesus
Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so
that we might become the righteousness of God in
Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB 1995). In that
horrible three hours of darkness, Jesus had been
made sin for us!
Jesus spoke these words
in Hebrew, and the spectators did not understand
Him. They thought He was calling for Elijah to help
Him (Matt. 27:47ff). Had they listened carefully and
consulted Psalm 22 in its entirety, they would have
understood the truth of His suffering and the
Martin Luther sat
contemplating these words, "My God, my God, why have
you forsaken me?" For a long time, without food or
water, he sat in deep meditation reflecting on this
saying of Christ. After a long time he rose from his
chair and exclaimed in utter amazement, "God
forsaken of God! Who can understand that?"
These words of Jesus from
the cross must be the most staggering sentence in
THESE WORDS REVEAL THE
REALITY OF SIN
Every individual comes
this day with blood on his hands. The Bible says,
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God" (Rom. 3:23). This verse gathers up the whole
race into one statement and tells us we still fall
short. "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under
sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ
might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22
The reality of sin keeps
us from fully comprehending these words.
"The Lord has looked down
from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are
any who understand, who seek after God. They have
all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm
No man on earth and no
sinner in hell can ever understand the depth of
meaning of these words of Jesus. We would have to go
to hell as perfectly sinless individuals, indeed, as
the sinless Son of God. No one will ever be in hell
in that condition. No individual will ever have an
experience that will enable him to understand the
significance of Jesus' terrible cry because we are
all sinners. Without a doubt we do not qualify. The
terrible truth is we deserve what Jesus was
suffering on the cross.
Jesus said sin is a
condition of the heart. "That which proceeds out of
the man, that is what defiles the man. For from
within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil
thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit,
sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
All these evil things proceed from within and defile
the man" (Mark 7:20-23, NASB).
The apostle James wrote
in 2:10, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and
yet offends in one point, he is guilty of all." And
the apostle John said, "If we say we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1
We don't fully
understand the holiness of God.
We do not fully
comprehend these words because we don't fully
understand the holiness of God. The Hebrew prophet
Habakkuk understood this when he exclaimed, "Your
eyes are too pure to behold evil, and you cannot
look on wrong doing" (1:13). Finite depraved sinners
do not understand how sin appears to an infinite,
holy and righteous God. God's attitude toward sin
caused Him to turn His back on His Son and forsake
Him. Sin is serious business with God.
Christ revealed the
horror of sin when we died on the cross. We treat
sin lightly. God takes it seriously. God cannot and
will not tolerate sin in His presence because He is
a holy God. The Bible says: "The soul that sins will
surely die." "The wages of sin is death." God's
attitude toward sin caused Him to pour out His wrath
on His own Son. What a startling contrast these
words are to those occasions when God the Father
broke through glory and said, "This is My beloved
Son in whom I am well pleased."
Sin is so serious that
there is only one way God can deal with it. The
writer of Hebrews said, "All things are cleansed
with blood, and without shedding of blood there is
no forgiveness" (9:22).
These words from the
cross reveal the reality of sin and holiness. They
also reveal the reason for the sacrifice.
THESE WORDS REVEAL THE
REASON FOR THE SACRIFICE
Jesus was fulfilling the
great messianic Psalm 22. This great Psalm runs
through out the whole crucifixion narrative. It is
interwoven through out the crucifixion story because
it foretells the crucial events in the crucifixion
of Jesus. Jesus was not a Jewish martyr. He was the
Suffering Servant of Yahweh who laid down His life
Prayer from Jesus'
This was a prayer from
Jesus' childhood that He learned from His mother's
lap (Psalm 22:1).
"Eli, Eli" represents
Hebrew version of Psalm 22:1; "Eloi, Eloi" (Mk.
15:34) is Aramaic.
When the human Jesus
cried out, "My God, my God," He gave full expression
to the feelings of abandonment. But they also
express His continuing relationship of confidence,
patience, self-resignation and trust in the
sovereignty of God the Father. Jesus is crying out
after the Father as well as crying to Him for help.
In anguish of godforsakenness, Jesus continued to
trust His Father.
The Son of God entered
into godforsakenness. The word "forsaken" is made up
of three words: "to leave" meaning to abandon;
"down" suggesting defeat and helplessness; and "in"
referring to the place of the circumstances. The
word pictures the forsaking of someone in a state of
defeat or helplessness in the midst of a hostile
"My God, my God, why did
you abandon––leave behind, forsake, abandon,
For the first time in the
eternal life of Jesus, God the Father turns from
Him! The Father denies Jesus His presence! Forsaken
of God! For the first time that eternal fellowship
between the Father and the Son of God was
mysteriously broken! In the anguish of
godforsakenness, Jesus still cries out in trust. He
trusts even in His cry of dereliction.
In the vicarious,
substitutionary atoning sacrifice for our sins, the
unbroken communion between the Father and the son
was mysteriously broken.
Up until now God the
Father said, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am
well pleased!" It is a unique communion between the
Father and the Son. Now God the Father abandons His
own Son. This is the only explanation of His death.
It is the only way we can understand His words from
the cross. It is impossible otherwise for radically
depraved sinners to understand this cry of our
Savior. We would have to go to hell and suffer
eternally as the holy Son of God on behalf of
Let me also make it very
clear: this is the eternal destiny of every soul
without Christ. All of the wrath of God falls upon
us or upon our divine substitute.
God our savior has made
it forever unnecessary for us to experience or
understand the depths of these words from the cross.
The reality of sin and holiness reveals the reason
for the sacrifice. These words reveal the terrible
cost of the putting away of our sin.
representatively fell the collective consequence of
This truth becomes clear
when we consider the Levitical ceremony of laying
hands on head of the innocent scapegoat and
confessing the sins of the people. Jesus is our
scapegoat, dying in our place, taking the punishment
for our sins upon Himself (2 Cor. 5:21). Galatians
3:13 tells us Christ became a curse for us, "for it
is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of
God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.
6:23). A. T. Robertson observes the seriousness of
our sins in God's sight; "Sin pays its wages in full
with no cut. But eternal life is God's gift, not
wages. Both death and life are "eternal."
Jesus was made the
representative of sin. On Jesus Christ,
representatively, fell the collective consequences
of sin. He bore the penalty of our sins for us. He
suffered on our behalf.
Name off your sins one by
one: God made Jesus representative of that sin and
crushed it! Take that list of sins we read earlier
that comes from the heart and bring them to the
cross. Jesus was made representative of that sin and
died for it. "Evil thoughts" –– God made Jesus
representative of that sin and crushed it!
"Fornications" –– God made Jesus representative of
that sin and crushed it! "Thefts" –– God made Jesus
representative of that sin and crushed it! "Murders"
–– God made Jesus representative of that sin and
crushed it! "Adulteries" ––God made Jesus
representative of that sin and crushed it! "Deeds of
coveting and wickedness" –– God made Jesus
representative of those sins and crushed them! Name
them off one by one––"deceit, sensuality, envy,
slander, pride and foolishness" –– God made Jesus
representative of those sins and crushed them at
Calvary! Unbelief –– God made Jesus representative
of your cultured, refined, indifferent unbelief and
He died to crush it!
God laid the penalty of
your sinful heart on Jesus. God made Him
representative of all your sins and mine and He paid
the penalty. Christ became "a curse for us . . .
'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'" (Gal.
3:13). This is a revelation of what hell is like. It
is a revelation of the penalty of human sin. The
whole weight of every sin ever committed and that
ever would be committed fell on Jesus. The penalty
He bore for us was the inevitable separation from
God which sin brings and belongs to us.
Think of gathering all
the sin of humanity into one pile. What a seething
mountain of wickedness! Jesus came down to represent
that sin so that God might blot it out in one
sufficient comprehensive condemnation! And let it
never be forgotten that it was not His, but it was
for yours and my wicked depravity that He identified
Himself with and suffered. No wonder there was such
a cry of God–forsakenness from that sacrifice! The
wonder of it all is that He did it only because of
His love for us!
In becoming sin for us
the Father had to turn judicially from His Son. The
apostle Paul wrote: "whom God displayed publicly as
a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was
to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the
forbearance of God He passed over the sins
previously committed; for the demonstration, I say,
of His righteousness at the present time, so that He
would be just and the justifier of the one who has
faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:25-26).
No wonder God pulled the
curtain across His holy of holies so no profane eyes
could see the terrible spiritual suffering the Lamb
of God was enduring as punishment for our sins. God
permitted no one to look upon the physical
convulsions of the vicarious suffering of God's
Servant. This is how far He traveled from heaven's
glory to save your soul. It was a place of outer
darkness of godforsakenness and God caused a thick
darkness to fall upon the land.
God loves you.
These words reveal the
extent of God's love for you and me. God continues
to demonstrate His own love for us, in that while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us. "In this is
love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our
sins" (1 John 4:10).
It was not the nails, but
His wondrous love for me that kept Jesus on the
cross. Revelation 1:5, "To Him who loves us and
released us from our sins by His blood . . ."
Ephesians 5:2, "Christ also loved you and gave
Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to
God as a fragrant aroma." Christ's death was an
offering to God "in our behalf."
These words from the
cross reveal to us the reality of sin. They also
reveal the reason for the sacrifice of Christ and
the satisfaction of God.
THESE WORDS REVEAL THE
SATISFACTION OF GOD.
It was probably only a
few moments later that Jesus declared with a shout,
"Finished!" God's wrath was spent, and the sacrifice
for our sins was finished.
John R. Broadus, "In
Himself the Savior was still well–pleasing to the
Father, in voluntarily laying down His life that He
might take it again (Jn. 10:17f); it must have been
as our substitute, because He 'bares our sins in His
own body on the tree,' that He was forsaken."
Jesus has satisfied
the holy just demands of God.
These words reveal to us
that the wrath of God toward sin has been completely
satisfied. Jesus was paying the price of our sin
debt in full as He cried out, "Eloi, Eloi . . .
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Hebrews 10:31 says: "It
is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a living
God." Hebrews 2:3 reads, "How shall we escape, if we
neglect so great salvation." Now is the day of
salvation. God pleads with you to come to Him
because your salvation was paid in full at Calvary.
First Thessalonians 5:9,
"For God has not destined us for wrath, but for
obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who died for us, that whether we are awake or
asleep, we may live together with Him."
the depths of His suffering for us. When He cried,
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" my hell,
your hell, and all the hells of ever guilty sinner
was burning their wrath out on Him! Jesus went to
the cross and paid that price for you and me. He did
not die for Himself. He died your hell. He died my
hell. He bore our punishment for sin. He did it so
you and I will never know what hell is like.
However, since Jesus
Christ went to the cross and died as my
representative, it means that if I refuse to believe
on Him as my substitute for my penalty then I must
bear my own punishment. If I refuse Him to be my
substitute, then I must pay the penalty in full.
These words from the
cross are a divine revelation of what hell is like.
It reveals to us the wrath of God against all sin.
This is the clearest revelation of the wrath of God.
These words reveal
the satisfaction of God.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah
said the Suffering Servant would be "wounded for our
transgressions and bruised for our iniquities." The
LORD God was laying on Him "the iniquities of us
all." The Suffering Servant of Yahweh was crying
out, "My God, My God . . . "
John the Baptizer pointed
to Jesus and declared, "Behold the Lamb of God who
lifts up and takes away the collective sin of a
world of sinners" (Jn. 1:29, 36).
Christ gave Himself a
"ransom for many." The one who knew no sin God "made
sin" for us. On the cross Christ became a "curse for
us" and so redeemed us from the curse of the law. We
are "redeemed by the precious blood of Christ" shed
on Calvary. He gave himself a "ransom for all."
Jesus had to pay the
price alone and tasted spiritual death for every
man. He felt the way a lost sinner feels, without
Himself having sinned. The innocent sufferer was
suffering for the guilty.
The invitation is clear:
"Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
Come, sinners! Come harlots! Come blasphemers! Come,
murders! Come, adulterers! Come sinners all! "And
him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out"
Principles for Today
In these words we begin
to comprehend the love of God.
In these words we
understand the depravity of sin and God's holiness.
In these words we
understand the vicarious, substitutionary atonement
of Jesus' death.
There is the story of a
public servant who served both as a trial lawyer and
a judge during his illustrious career. On one
occasion as judge he was speaking to a man convicted
of murder: "At your first trial, I was your lawyer,
today I am your judge. The verdict of the jury makes
it mandatory for me to sentence you to be hanged by
the neck until you are dead."
Today Jesus is your
advocate; tomorrow He is your judge. Today He pleads
for you to believe in your heart that He died for
your sins on the cross. The salvation He offers is
complete and all sufficient to save you for all
eternity. Believe on Him right now and ask Him to be
Title: Matthew 27:48
My God! My God!Why?
Series: Life of Christ