The Darkness Over the Son

The Darkness Over the Son

Mark 15:33-47 shows us the cross of Christ. The darkness of sin overcame Jesus on the cross, and he felt it. Verse 34 says Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark includes both the Aramaic version Jesus actually spoke and the Greek translation for his readers. According to verse 35, some thought he was calling for Elijah. The Aramaic words misheard certainly could sound like it, and in Jewish thought, Elijah, who had not died but had been lifted into heaven, would come back to help God’s people. In verse 36, they took sour wine to him, fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 69:21, “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” This isn’t the wine with myrrh offered to Jesus on the way to the cross. This wasn’t meant dull his pain but to prolong his life, to see if Elijah would come. But Elijah wasn’t coming. He wasn’t crying out for Elijah anyway. He was crying out for another reason—not for someone to save him but to show the kind of salvation he was securing.

His cry was the first verse of Psalm 22. Why that Psalm? Because there, the Psalmist David laments the feeling of forsakenness. The first two verses say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Do you know that feeling? Have you felt forsaken? Have you felt abandoned? On the cross, that’s how Jesus felt as the darkness came over him. He wants us to know he identifies with us. His cry is our cry because our cry is his cry. Dane Ortlund, in his book Gentle and Lowly, says this.

New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham notes that while Psalm 22:1 was originally written in Hebrew, Jesus spoke it in Aramaic and thus was personally appropriating it. Jesus wasn’t simply repeating David’s experience of a thousand years earlier as a convenient parallel expression. Rather, every anguished Psalm 22:1 cry across the millenia was being recapitulated and fulfilled and deepened in Jesus. His was the true Psalm 22:1 of which ours are the shadows. As the people of God, all our feelings of forsakenness funneled through an actual human heart in a single moment of anguished horror on Calvary, an actual forsakenness…The world’s Light was going out.

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