Summary: A sermon on the fourth saying of our Savior from the cross.
The anguish of our Savior on Calvary was foretold by David in Psalm 22. While I would encourage you to read the entire Psalm, I want to just share with you the first 8 verses.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’” - Psalm 22:1-8 (NIV)
These words of Jesus from the cross were of such significance that God saw fit to tell about them - word for word - by way of prophecy. Evidently there is something of great significance that occurred at this point in His crucifixion which caused Jesus to utter - literally scream - these words! What was going on that made Jesus cry out so?
It should be pointed out that darkness covered the land from the 6th to the 9th hour (Jewish time), which was from noon to 3 pm. It was at the end of this three-hour period that Jesus cried out in anguish. What occurred during that 3 hour period? It was at this time that the sins of the world were poured out upon our Lord! It was during those three hours that Jesus accomplished the mission for which He was born - He suffered for my sin and for yours so that we wouldn’t have to.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” - 1 Peter 2:24a (NIV)
Jesus, being the infinite Son of God, was able to suffer in a finite period of time on the cross (a period of 3 hours), what you and I, being finite human beings, would have to suffer for an infinite period of time in Hell.
Often, when we think of the sufferings of our Savior on the cross, we think of the physical aspect of His suffering. But there is a much more important aspect of His suffering which Matthew is relating to us here, and that is the spiritual aspect of our Lord’s suffering.
There have been others who have suffered as painful, or even more painful a death as did Jesus, but only Jesus has experienced spiritual suffering for the sin of every person who has lived, is living, or ever will live! As we consider this fourth cry from the cross, let’s think about the nature of our Savior’s spiritual suffering for our sake.
1. The Darkness Around The Cross - v. 45
We are intrigued by the fact that darkness covered the land from noon to 3 pm - the time of day when the sun would normally be at its height and shining it’s brightest! What caused this darkness? One explanation is that the darkness was nature’s reaction to the sufferings of our Savior.
“The sixth hour and the ninth represent Jewish time, counted from rising to setting of the sun, i.e., noon until 3:00 P.M. The land means the country of Judea. The dark¬ness was not due to an eclipse, for such was not possible during the full moon at the time of the Passover. Other natural phenom¬ena may be implied, as a storm or black sirocco, but the Synoptics seem to mean that even nature bore witness to the magni¬tude of the event at Golgotha.” - Frank Stagg in the Broadman Commentary
Though this explanation has some legitimacy, I would like to propose a second possible explanation, that the darkness that covered the land for those three hours symbolized the fact that our Savior was suffering at the hands of the powers of darkness. You see, part of the spiritual suffering of our Savior involved enduring the wrath of Satan.
“None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had,they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” - 1 Corinthians 2:8 (NIV)
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” - Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
“They nailed Him to an ugly cross that bleak and dreadful day; And thought forever from their midst they’d driven Him away. But three days passed, and He arose Triumphant o’er the grave, With Hell’s keys in His mighty hands; and wondrous power to save. And He ascended to His throne, the Spirit to send forth, That men no more alone should be, and every life have worth. He’s coming back some golden day, and victory shall He bring; For He’ll be Conqueror when He comes: our Lord, our coming King!” - J. Melton Thomas