The death of Jesus
45At midday the sky turned dark and stayed that way until three o'clock.46Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”
47Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, “He's calling for Elijah.”48One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus.
49Others said, “Wait! Let's see if Elijah will come and save him.”50Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died.
51At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart.52Graves opened, and many of God's people were raised to life.53Then after Jesus had risen to life, they came out of their graves and went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people.
54The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, “This man really was God's Son!”
55Many women had come with Jesus from Galilee to be of help to him, and they were there, looking on at a distance.56Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were some of these women.
In verse 46, Jesus cries out that he has been abandoned by God. He is giving voice to more than his feelings. He is expressing an actual fact. A child may feel abandoned by his or her parents in a mall when the parent is actually close at hand. The abandonment that Jesus expresses is real because he bears the sins of the world and is forsaken by the Father. He is forsaken so that we never have to be forsaken (Heb 13:5). He experiences hell for us so that we may never go there.
In spite of his abandonment by God, Jesus does not fail to trust in God. The cry of verse 46 is one of despair but not of distrust. He still addresses God personally as “My God”. He quotes these words from Psalm 22 and uses the personal pronoun. It is important in our own experience that when it feels like God has abandoned us, we need not abandon him. Even if we do not sense him or hear him, we can still be assured that he hears us.
This cry of abandonment is followed by two things, the rent veil and the testimony of a Roman army officer. The veil is the inner veil of the temple which separated God from all humans. There was limited access to the most holy place and only the High Priest once a year could move into God’s presence. Now the barrier is down and we can approach the presence of God at any time 24/7.The tearing of the veil from the top to the bottom is an indication that this was a supernatural event.
This is followed by the cry of the Centurion that this man was the Son of God. The soldier recognizes that this is no ordinary man and this is no ordinary death. This truth is the one that the religious leaders cannot see and reject (verses 41-43). If our hearts are open to truth, Jesus reveals himself as who he really is.
Almighty God, help me not to abandon you in times of difficulty. Thank you that your Son was abandoned so that you will never leave nor forsake me. Thank you for open access into your presence.