The crucified Lord Jesus hung upon the cursed tree for six agonizing hours... from 9:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon.
At noon, with the sun high in the sky, suddenly “there was darkness over all the land” (Matthew 27:45, ESV). Like someone flipped the switched, the lights went out! Oh, it wasn’t just dim... it was dark... utterly, totally, pitch-black darkness...
Remember, at the beginning of creation, God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). As the Son of God hung on the cross, did Creator God say, “Let the light be removed...” Maybe? Was the darkness a symbol of the Omnipresent God’s momentary withdrawal? Was it a physical picture of the Father looking away from the Son, forsaking Him?
It must have been at about noon when darkness fell and Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, ESV).
Peter may hold the answer to the Lord’s query. Why did Father forsake Beloved Son? Why did God physically demonstrate this as He withdrew the light. Why? Because Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24, ESV). Paul agreed with this analysis. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV). On the cross, Jesus bore our sin. On the cross, Jesus became our sin.
Sin separates mankind from the Holy God. Wasn’t that true with Adam and Eve? They sinned and were therefore banished from God’s Holy dwelling place in the Garden. Isaiah writes, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2, ESV).
Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus quoted from the twenty-second Psalm. It’s opening verse reads, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1, ESV). Verse three may answer Christ’s question. Why was the Messiah left in utter darkness on the cross? Because God is absolutely “holy” and therefore cannot look upon sin.
Jesus always knew it would happen just this way. It was foretold. Foreordained. From before history began, it was always God’s plan that the Sinless One would pay for the sins of many.
So why would Jesus cry out with such agony, such anguish, such sorrow? It’s clear. Jesus, bore all of God’s wrath for all of the sins of every sinner! “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, ESV). God is Holy and absolutely just! Someone had to pay the price for sin, and only One was qualified... Jesus.
As Jesus rose from the waters of the Jordan River, a voice rang out from heaven. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, ESV). And on the Mount of Transfiguration, “a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ ” (Matthew 17:5, ESV). But as He hung on the cross, Jesus called heaven-ward, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, ESV). God’s muted answer was, “It must be so! Now, I accept the sacrifice as sufficient payment for sin!”
Because He was forsaken, I have been forgiven. Hallelujah!