Last week we looked at Gethsemane. Today we see Jesus die on the cross. This is when he felt the weight of our sin upon him. And it felt like being completely forsaken by God. Let’s read about that hopeless, helpless moment.
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Crucifixion was cruel, but it wasn’t unusual. People died this way all the time. The day Jesus died, there were two robbers executed with him, one on each side. What made Christ’s death any different from theirs?
The weight of our sin.
We really cannot say what that felt like. I have compared it with the feeling of guilt. Guilt is worse than pain because it has a psychological and/or spiritual component that physical pain makes worse, but cannot compare to. When physical pain is gone, guilt can continue. It can sap a person’t energy and deplete a person’t life. Guilt, even without physical suffering can push a person to end his own life.
And Jesus publicly and shamefully bore the sin, the guilt, of the world.
If there was ever a place that was truly God-forsaken, it was Christ’s cross that day on Golgotha. “The Father turned his face away,” says the hymn. Jesus was alone as he died, even though there were bystanders all around him. None of them could understand what he was enduring. Numbing the pain would never alleviate the suffering of substitutionary atonement.
As Christ died, the curtain in the temple tore from top to bottom and the way was opened for us to come into the very presence of God. Christ was separated from the Father so that we might be joined with them both inseparably and forever. No one saw it or said it better than the centurion.
39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”