The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Atonement 5
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.” 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, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13, Hebrews 9:27-28, I Peter 2:20-25 and I Peter 3:18.
The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is summarized by several important and key doctrinal terms.
Atonement which means to be “one” with God. To be reconciled. It is used to describe all that Christ accomplished by His death on the cross. It refers to the offering of redemptive sacrifice. Hebrews 10:1-14. Atonement is the core teaching in the New Testament.
Justification ( δικαιόω / dikaioō) is the judicial act in which God the Father declares the sinner righteous before Himself by the credited (imputed) righteousness of Jesus Christ alone which is applied to the individual sinners by grace alone, through faith alone.
The justified are declared right before God. The center of justification is the cross. This is where this saving action was accomplished. Justification has a historical core. Christ is called our justification or righteousness (I Corinthians 1:30).
Justification is applied to sinners through the instrument of God given faith. Faith is the instrument by which believers are justified. Romans 3:21; 26-27; 5:1. Faith’s object is Jesus Christ and is a gift of divine grace.
Justification results in God’s righteous rule in the believer’s life. Salvation, justification, leads to righteous behavior and a breakage from the bondage to sin.
Martin Luther called justification by faith the atriculus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae (The article upon which the church stands or falls).