The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Atonement 6
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. These include atonement, justification and redemption.
Redemption (ἀπολύτρωσις / apolytrōsis) is financial term that has in view the payment of the price demanded by the One, True Holy God for the deliverance of the believer from the bondage and burden of sin. The payment was the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross. I Peter 1:16-18. (Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24; 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7, 14; 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15; 11:35.
Redemption means to loose, to break off, to untie and to part. To release. It is forgiveness as an act of God which is now enjoyed by divine promise but which will come into fullness when Jesus Christ returns. Jesus Christ is our redemption (I Corinthians 1:30). Redemption is only in fellowship with Christ by virtue of His work (Galatians 2:20) and in the sphere of His Lordship (Colossians 1:13). Redemption is a gift of God’s grace (Romans 3:24).
Another key doctrinal word is propitiation. Propitiation (ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) is the satisfaction of all of God the Father’s righteous and just demands for the punishment of the believer’s sin by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, it refers to the golden cover over the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17). The high priest burns incense before it on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and then sprinkles blood on and before it (Leviticus 16). It is called the “mercy seat.”
Propitiation means to compensate, to redress a wrong, to make amends, or to do penance. To turn away wrath. God Himself accomplished propitiation and not man. Christ’s propitiatory act on the cross satisfied the righteous and holy demands for justice by God the Father that sin must be punished by death. Jesus Christ bore the divine judgment on the believer’s behalf. This is based on God’s graciousness and it is God Himself provides the means of removing His own wrath. Hebrews 2:17 and I John 2:2.
Since Christ is our substitute, praise God you and I receive what He deserves even as, on the cross, He received what you and I deserve.