Mark 15:33–37 RSV
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Sometimes we need to get up to a higher altitude and look at the bigger picture unfolding in Scripture. Today is one of those days. Today’s text opens with these words.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. This is a divinely inspired echo of the account of the creation of the world, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:1–2).
Remember the next words from the mouth of God? Yep. “Let there be light!” The darkness described in today’s text is the darkness of chaos preceding the death and resurrection of the Light of the World.
It gets better. Today’s text also echoes the defining event in the life of the Hebrew people: the exodus. Remember those ten plagues? I want us to remember plague #9 in particular. Here’s an account.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Exod. 10:21–23)
Now, recall plague #10: the death of all the firstborn sons of Egypt. It was the blood of the Passover lambs that saved the people of God from this unthinkable loss.
Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Talk about “darkness that can be felt.” The firstborn and only Son of God, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, who brought deliverance from sin and death for all who will believe. As the old hymn puts it, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Behold this incredible tapestry of salvation. The cross stands as the divine turning point from darkness to light and from death to life.
Sometimes we need to get up to a higher altitude and look at the bigger picture unfolding in Scripture. Do you see why today is one of those days?
And the practical application on a day like today? Awe. “Thank you for the cross!” We should point out in the midst of all of this cosmic drama we hear Jesus cry out these words:
At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It turns out he wasn’t forsaken after all. So the next time you are feeling forsaken by God, get to a higher place of perspective and remember the bigger story. It’s in the lowest of low places that the greatest miracles often happen.
Now back to awe!
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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