The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Atonement 4
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.
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.
Along with the setting of atonement, we also witness Jesus’ statement of atonement in vs. 46. “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?”
Next, we witness the significance of the atonement. This is declared throughout the New Testament in John 1:29, Romans 5:6-8, Galatians 3:13, Hebrews 9:27-28, I Peter 2:20-25 and I peter 3:18.
The Apostle Paul makes the following conclusion in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ESV).
Paul states that on behalf of sinners, God the Father made Jesus Christ (God the Son) to be sin. While on the cross, Jesus became the substitute for sinners who have violated God’s law, have done wrong, and have wandered from the path of righteousness and honor.
The irony in this truth is that Jesus Christ had no personal knowledge or acquaintance with sin. He had never sinned. He never violated God’s law, wandered from the path of truth and righteousness and honor. Yet, He received the punishment rightly due to sinners such as you and me.
Why did He do this? Paul explains that this was done so that in Jesus, sinners who become believers in Christ would be brought into an existence of righteousness. God would declare sinners righteous because of Christ righteous life and substitutionary atonement.