The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Atonement 1

Jesus’ spoken words from the cross emphasize the truths of forgiveness ("Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."  Luke 23:34), hope ("Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43), love (“Woman, behold your son; behold your mother.” John 19:26-27) and atonement (Matthew 27:45-49).

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” (Matthew 27:45-49 ESV).  See Mark 15:33-36.

Have you ever been abandoned? Have you ever been discarded, deserted, forsaken, cast off or dumped? Perhaps in personal relationships you may have experienced abandonment.

No matter how great your grief or fear over being abandoned, or how indifferent you may feel right now because you have never experienced anything in your life and family but love and security, nothing compares to the abandonment and despair we see Jesus experiencing on the cross which is articulated in His fourth statement from the cross. Nothing can compare to the security and love we have in Jesus Christ because nothing can compare to the abandonment He experienced on our behalf while on the cross. 

As Dr. R. C. Sproul comments, “Burning hearts are not nourished by empty heads. We must develop our minds if we are to sustain Godly passion and to have a clear message.” We must strive to understand the depth of abandonment Jesus experienced for sinners in order to understand the atonement Jesus alone provides for sinners.

To begin with, we witness the setting in vs. 45. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” According to Jewish time, a day began at 6:00 a.m. and not Midnight. Therefore, according to Matthew and Mark’s gospel, the sixth hour is Noon. The Gospel of Mark in 15:25 also indicates the crucifixion began at the third hour. I.e. 9:00 a.m.

Matthew specifically states that from the sixth hour, Noon, until the ninth hour, 3 p.m., darkness came over all the land. It is within this period of supernatural darkness Jesus became the sin-offering for sinners (John 1:29; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18) and as such was forsaken (abandoned) by the Father.

What occurred during this period of three hours when “there was darkness over all the land.” Within this context, both Matthew and Mark refer to the darkness as a physical darkness. A lack of light. Luke, in 23:45-46 indicates that the darkness occurred because the sun was obscured. The sun’s light failed. The sun was covered with darkness.

This darkness was over all the land. This is referring to the entire region of Judea. Jesus’ crucifixion began at 9 o’clock in the morning, and from 9 a.m. until Noon He hung in the light. But at Noon, a miraculous darkness covered the land. This was not a natural phenomenon but a heaven-sent darkness that lasted for three hours. There were three days of darkness in Egypt before the first Passover (Ex. 10:21–23) and there were three hours of darkness before the Passover Lamb of God (John 1:29; I Corinthians 5:7) died for sinners.

Who covered the sun with darkness? God the Father.