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27. The Frowns of God and Nature on the Crucified
(Matthew 27:45-50)
45Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.46And 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?”47Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!”48Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.49The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. (Psalm22:2,69:22)

An extraordinary light heralded the birth of Christ (Matthew 2:2). Therefore, it was proper that an extraordinary darkness should accompany His death, for He is the Light of the world. The indignities done to our Lord Jesus made the heavens furious and put them into disorder and confusion. The sun had never seen such wickedness before, and therefore withdrew its face and could not watch it now.
Jesus was crucified on Friday, between eleven and twelve o’clock noon. The nation celebrated the Passover on Saturday, beginning from six o’clock on Friday evening. At the same time that Jesus was nailed to the cross, multitudes of people entered the courtyards of the temple to slay lambs so that God’s wrath might pass over them. They did not know that the true Lamb of God was hanged outside the wall to reconcile all men with God. Christ died on Friday afternoon before the Passover to declare to us that He was the only Lamb of God worthy of bearing our sins. He gathered all the wrath of God upon His own head so that the angels of judgment might pass over us and we would be justified by our faith in the Crucified One.
Matthew recorded one of the seven statements that Christ spoke while on the cross, that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” This was quoted from Psalm 22:1 where David expressed his sufferings and triumph over his enemies. It also prophesied Christ’s sufferings and His triumph over them.
Christ did not say, “Why did You give permission for my sufferings?” but “Why have You forsaken me?” His severe sufferings were the result of His bearing the sin of the world so that He had to be abandoned by God in His capacity as substitute for sinners. Christ tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). “He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Though this word was a stumbling block to the disciples’ minds as it is to our limited understanding, the redemption of the whole world depends on it. If Christ had not confessed this unique sentence, the secret of redemption would have been hidden from us.
The ordinance of atonement that Christ had begun in Gethsemane was fulfilled on the cross. As He drank the cup of wrath from God’s hand, the Father concealed His face from His Son for He bore in His body the sin of the world. The merciful Father changed into a sincere Judge and inflicted our punishment on His Son. For this He separated Himself from Him.
Jesus Christ endured judgment on the cross in our place and died so that we could live His life forever. How great are the mysteries of the cross of Jesus, bearer of our judgment, and provider of complete and universal atonement.
In the heart of darkness, Jesus did not address His Father, for the Father’s love had appeared as destructive wrath. Yet He called Him, “My God, My God” and clung to His trust in Him. Jesus trusted His love though He did not see the Holy One. This is the struggle of faith that Christ carried out for us. He believed in the nearness and faithfulness of His Father in spite of His judgment. His faith overcame His wrath. The evil one did not find any authority over Him. Jesus continued in His faith until death and put aside the weakness of His tortured body, triumphing over the tempter’s tricks and putting an end to God’s wrath.
The people who stood near the cross probably did not sense the great struggle in the heart of the Crucified One. Most of the soldiers who were present did not accurately understand Hebrew or Aramaic. Thus, they misunderstood His words, thinking that He was calling Elijah, the prophet. The Jews did not allow the Man of Sorrows to quench His thirst, but mocked him to the end, saying that perhaps Elijah would rise from the dead to save this weak Christ.” Darkness grew thicker and evil spirits darkened the minds of those who rejected Christ, for they did not recognize the Lord even at the last moment. The physical darkness that covered nature between twelve o’clock and three o’clock in the afternoon may have resulted from a solar eclipse as a sign to those hardened by the power of evil.
Yet, Jesus loved His hidden Father and believed in Him. He loved His enemies and mediated for them to God as our Intercessor. On the cross, He prayed for you, too, and forgave your sins even if you did not realize them in detail. You are a sinner, but your Lord loves you. His death is proof of that love. When He cried, “It is finished,” He was thinking of you, too. His love has obtained complete forgiveness for your sins.
Christ’s loud cry indicated that, in spite of all His pain and fatigue, His Spirit was whole and His nature was strong. The voice of dying men is one of the first things that fail. With panting breath and a faltering tongue, a few broken words are barely spoken and barely heard. But just before He expired, Christ spoke like a man in His strength. This strength showed that His Spirit was not forced from Him, but was freely delivered into His Father’s hands. He who had strength enough to cry like that when He died could have gotten loose from the cross and defied the powers of death. But to show that by the eternal Spirit He freely offered himself (Hebrews 9:14), being the High Priest as well as the Sacrifice, He cried with a loud voice.

We worship You, Holy Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world. You washed me of my sins, too, with Your precious blood and sanctified me by Your death. I love You deeply and I believe in Your atonement. You have reconciled me entirely to God and prepared salvation for all men, for Your salvation was completed by Your sacrificial death. Turn men’s eyes toward Your cross that they may be justified by Your death. Open their eyes to see that there is forgiveness for sin and that they may not be deceived by trying to establish their self-righteousness through the works of the evil one. You have justified us completely and forever. Sanctify us by repentance and brokenness so that the victory of Your cross will be realized in us and we can be renewed in the power of Your love for the praise of Your holy name and the glory of the Father.
What is the meaning of the only utterance from the cross recorded by Matthew?