Today's verses are Mark 15:33,34: "And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" Jesus is on the cross, dying. From the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3 p.m.), there was darkness over the entire land. What was happening? This could not have been a solar eclipse because Passover happened during a full moon. A solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon season. There can only be one explanation. This darkness is a supernatural act of God. It shows his judgment upon all humanity, every person who has ever lived, for crucifying his Son.
There may also have been, in the heavenlies, a final judgment upon Satan and his demonic hordes. These dark hours could have been the final clash of God and his victory against all the evil forces of darkness.
Also, it should be noted that at 3 pm, when Jesus died, was the exact time the Jews would offer the evening sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. At the exact time Jesus was dying on the cross, the perfect, unblemished lamb was offered in the temple for the day of Atonement. This perfect timing gives special meaning to John the Baptist's words about Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
At the moment of his death, Jesus quotes from Psalm 22:1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" These are some of the most mysterious, powerful words in all the Bible. In some profoundly powerful way, they show how Jesus, at the moment when all the sins of the world came upon him, experienced separation from the divine favor and fellowship with his Father in heaven. In bearing our sins, Jesus was experiencing, at this moment, God's wrath upon himself.
Surely Jesus knows why he is suffering and dying. Surely he knows Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm and by quoting its first verse he is fulfilling its meaning. Surely by crying out "with a loud voice" he is not expressing total physical anguish but is witnessing to the bystanders about who he is and his mission on earth. Surely this witness was not only for the bystanders but for all of us reading these words today, showing all of us that his death was for our salvation. Surely Mark, in writing these words, knew their implication for all his readers, perhaps even including us today.
I John 4:10 says: "For this is love, not that we love him but that he first loved us and gave his life as a propitiation for our sins." Before we ever chose to love God, he first loved us. God picked up the receiver and called us first. To prove his love he gave his life as a propitiation, as a substitution, for our sin. That should have been our cross. That should have been God's wrath poured out on us. That should have been our punishment for our gross sin.
But God so loves us he gave his life, the life of his dear Son, for us. He substituted his Son on the cross for us, his wrath poured out on his Son instead of us. What amazing love! What incredible grace!
"He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus took my condemnation, which he didn't deserve, upon himself so that I could receive his glory, which I don't deserve, upon myself.
Some days I must stand in silence and awe before some of the most powerful, important words in all the Bible.
Today is one of those days.