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“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’ Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”—Mark 15:33–37 (NIV)
Living in South Florida, I’ve become accustomed to the sky going from super sunny to completely covered in dark clouds in a matter of minutes. But even I can’t imagine just how dark the sky must have gone for three hours in Jerusalem on the day Jesus, “the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8 NIV), was crucified.
Now, according to John Gill, “the whole world was darkened until the ninth hour.” Literal darkness covered the earth while Jesus carried the sins of all humanity—the real darkness that has altogether corrupted the world. Jesus bore the darkness of sin fully so we may walk in the light, so He could make “his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).
And because of the sins He had taken upon His shoulders, Jesus experienced separation from the Father for the first and only time in all of eternity. Because the Son had taken sin upon Himself, the Father, who cannot look upon sin, turned His back. Thus, Jesus, quoting Psalm 22:1 (NIV), says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus did not address God as Father.
Now, it’s believed by many scholars that the people misheard Jesus as saying Elias instead of Eloi. Thus, mocking Him, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Why Elijah? Because Elijah was believed by the Jewish people to come before the Messiah. As Barnes points out, “They derided him now, as calling upon Elias when God would not help him; still keeping up the pretensions to being the Messiah, and invoking Elijah to come from the dead to aid him.”
Upon hearing this, a soldier offered Jesus a drink using a sponge on a staff. John reveals the staff was a hyssop branch, which was used to spread the blood of the lamb to homes of the Israelites in Egypt. This element was part of the Passover Seder called the karpas. During the Seder, the karpas is dipped in salt water to represent the tears shed during the bitter years of slavery and the sea God parted during the exodus. Now it was used to give Jesus, the Passover Lamb, the bitter wine that represents the suffering caused by sin and the path that Jesus has cleared by His blood to bring us into the Promised Land. The debt was paid; the darkness of sin had been conquered on the cross. And now that He had accomplished the work He’d come to do, paid the full price of sin, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30 NKJV)! And “with a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”
Pause: How does knowing all that Jesus experienced on the cross and throughout this dark day impact your perspective?
Practice: If you’ve never received Jesus, if you’ve never repented of your sins and trusted in Him for your salvation, today can be your day! Today can be the day you look upon the face of the Savior and give your life to Him. Today can be the day you know for sure you’ll be in paradise forever with the God who loves you unconditionally. If you would like to receive Jesus, please e-mail me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org.
Pray: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to pay the price for my sins! Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.