Matthew 27:45-66 Part 2


In the two-thousand-year history of the Church of Jesus Christ there has arisen a well-developed (but still debated) doctrine that recognizes the incomprehensibility of God.  Without attempting to relate all the points of that debate in this forum, “incomprehensibility” simple means that man cannot know God fully.

God knows Himself exhaustively.  But man cannot know Him in the same way.  We are limited in many ways… not the least of which is the effects of sin.  But even we (who are the recipients of His grace in Christ Jesus) can’t know Him completely.

Further, at such time as we are resurrected to be with Him in glory, although we shall see Him as He is… there will still be no exhaustive knowledge of God among men or angels.

That which has been revealed to us, and which we receive through the gift of faith, is objectively and absolutely true.  For (since God cannot lie) whatever He says is Truth.  But Revelation from God doesn’t change the status of the creature.  We remain “created beings” (as do the angels).  And the creature cannot “know” the Creator in the way the Creator knows Himself.

I don’t want to go any further than this point:  Dr. Van Til put it this way….  We “know” analogically.  That is, we know because God knows.  We do not know objectively or independently.  The original sin of Adam and his wife Eve was that of attempting to think independently of God – to “know” and to “think” and to “act” on their own.  In other words, “to be as God”!

Our original father and mother couldn’t have done it… but they wanted to do it.  By Satanic temptation they wanted to know “independently” rather than “analogically”.  And the essence of that is the desire to think and to know “as God”… rather than thinking and knowing the thoughts of God after Him!

That’s the original sin (which brought the covenantal curse of God upon all mankind)… wanting to transcend the status of the creature with respect to its Creator – desiring to be independent of God – coveting the position of the Creator – original coveting.  Rather than being “His Image”, our first father and mother wished to be “as God”.

Anyway, back to “incomprehensibility”… there is that which we do not know (and cannot know) because we are “creature” (and not Creator).  Although we are to “think His thoughts after Him”, we do not (can not) know Him exhaustively (although we do know Him truly).

And therefore there is that which we can’t fully explain.  We can know much, but we can’t know exhaustively; so therefore how can we fully explain?

There have been many who have attempted an explanation of the great cry of our Lord form the cross:


“Eli, Eli lema sabachthani.”


(I think you’ll understand if I don’t try to imitate Jesus Christ and read it dramatically.  I’ll just leave it to you to understand that it was a “megaln” cry, (as the text says) a loud or great cry (verse forty-six).

Yet others have refused to approach it.  And those who do must do so in fear.  We can say many things about it; but we cannot explain it fully.  It is, to use the most succinct word, incomprehensible.

But as we begin let’s address the issue of “time” once again.  The text says:


 “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a great voice….”


Having spent some time in the text I am now convinced that His cry came near (or at) the end of the three hours of darkness – not after the darkness was taken away.  I think the reasons for that will become clear to us as we go along.

Now, it should be apparent to all, having read Psalm twenty-two (or portions of it) a number of times during the past months (as we dealt with the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord), that Jesus quotes from the beginning of the Psalm in His great cry.

And even in this instance, in the most awesome and fearsome text of Scripture, we must try to understand why that’s the case.  And we have to understand the purpose and context of that Psalm, don’t we?

As Jesus nears death He pulls together all the strength He has left, and His great “shout” to Eli from the cross… has a context.  And I say these things very carefully because even though it has a context, nothing we say or do must detract one iota from His suffering.

But as we have seen so many times before, nothing that Jesus ever said or did was “out of context”!  Since He is the Word of God made flesh, O Logos, He is the “fullness” of The Word.

We have gone, time and again, to the Older Testament Scriptures in order to view the meaning of event after event – and word after word.  The very “being” of Jesus was fulfillment of prophetic Scripture!  He is The Word!

So, as the “Son of David” quotes from His father David (in the midst of his own suffering), He is the Author of His Own inspired quote!  He is, at the same time, David’s Son and David’s Lord!

And as David, the prefiguring of the coming suffering Servant of God, (as David) suffers, He is inspired by The Word to write the very things which would come to pass as Jesus suffers on the cross.  Before he ascended the throne, David had to walk a path of suffering which so closely resembles the suffering of our Lord.  And by the inspiration of God that path so mirrors that of our Lord, that we can only say that it occurred by Divine power and mercy and wisdom!  It is Jesus Christ Who speaks in the Psalm, … in a very real sense that is the case (which attests to the high status to which the Old Testament Scripture are to be held).  And, at the same time, it can’t be separated from its own history.

It is Yahveh the Word Who writes of His Own suffering as David pours out his soul to God.  God has so molded the history itself into a prefiguring representation of the future deliverance.  The Psalm, in its power and brilliance, reaches far beyond its typical facts; and it penetrates to the Divine counsels concerning the Christ of God.

Now, here is a quick summary of the Psalm… at the beginning of which are the words of our Lord – shouted – as He nears the end of three hours of blackness.  And you remember that absolute darkness is condemnation, judgment and abandonment.

There are three divisions of the Psalm… the first of which is verses one through twelve; and it is a disconsolate cry of anguish over prolonged desertion by God.  The Psalmist’s present condition belies the real nature of his relationship with God; and this comes through toward the end of the section in that there is an inclination there toward faith and trust.

In other words, David, in spite of being enshrouded by Divine wrath, turns toward God and yearns for His communion!  This is, perhaps, the key to understanding the Psalm and the cry of despair from the cross!  He turns toward God!

The second section, lasting through verse twenty-two, is a detailed account of the agony David feels in the midst of this abandonment.  And as we consider the accounts of our Lord’s crucifixion, the words of the Psalmist here in section two coincide exactly.  He faithfully and artistically presents the agony of Jesus Christ on the cross:  the “spreading out” of the limbs of the naked body; the torturing pain in hands and feet; the burning thirst; those who blaspheme and shake their heads; the scoffers and those who ridicule the words of prophecy; the garments being divided, and a lot being cast for his coat.

And at the end of the section there is a cry for help, which is directed at God!  In other words, in his great despair David’s attention is on God!  Even in desertion and abandonment, and under the wrath of God with all his people, David’s words are turned toward this same God for help!  For in Him is the only help!

Job’s situation was similar, you remember.  Even in his awful circumstances his attention was toward God.  But he did not fully understand all the components of the comprehensive sovereignty of God.  In his agony he cursed his life and the very day he was born; but then he said, “Even if He kill me I will trust Him.”  That same attention toward God is here in Psalm twenty-two; and it’s very important here.

Now, the Psalmist, in the last section of chapter twenty-two, not only sets before us the suffering of the Crucified Son; but also the salvation of the world… arising out of His resurrection!  Listen again to a fresh translation of the last five verses:


“Remember and turn unto Jahve shall all the ends of the earth, and all the families of the nations shall bow down before Thee.  For Jahve’s is the Kingship, and He rules among the nations.  All the thriving of the earth shall eat and bow down; before Him shall all they that go down to the dust sink down and they that cannot prolong their life.  A seed shall serve Him; it shall be told to the generation concerning the Lord; They shall come and declare His righteousness to a future people, that He has finished it.”


You see, there is the atonement… the payment… for the sin of the world; there is the resurrection of the crucified One and the salvation of the nations.  And that’s the whole context of the Psalm.  It’s not just one cry of despair; but it is a finished work which results in the salvation of the world!

And any consideration of this last section of the Psalm must also see that it not only begins with the Word of Christ from the cross, but that it also ends that way as well….  “He has finished it…” the Psalmist says.  “It is finished”, Jesus said.  So the first word of the Psalm is a great cry of Christ from the cross; and the last word of the Psalm is a great cry of Christ from the cross!  The words of Christ from the cross comprehend the whole of the Psalm!

So this Psalm is one concerning the whole work of redemption.  It deals with it all!  The substance of the Gospel is that God did accomplish what He planned to do in anointing the son of Jesse and the Son of David.  The first, through suffering, became king over God’s people Israel.  But the Second, by His suffering, paid the price for the sin of the world… and became King over all the nations.  This Psalm is the whole of the Gospel!

And now, having surveyed Psalm twenty-two (however so briefly), let’s return to the text at Matthew chapter twenty-seven, at verse forty-five:


“And from the sixth hour darkness existed upon all the earth until hour ninth.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a great voice saying, ‘My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?’”


As we heard last time, darkness was a sign in connection with judgment.  Not only is this the sign of judgment and abandonment of the perfect God-man (as a substitutionary atonement for the sin of the world), but it is (as we saw from the historical usage of the term) a sign of judgment upon the principalities and powers.  If I might use in this context a “cute” colloquial saying… He “put out their lights”!  It applies… and fits perfectly!  Israel was now under the irrevocable wrath and judgment of God.  The “cloud” of judgment was upon them.

“…why hast Thou forsaken Me?” was a violent cry toward God, requiring maximum exertion from Jesus – after experiencing three hours of black abandonment.  He did not say, “why are You forsaking Me…”  He said, “why have You forsaken Me?”  “Why did you forsake Me?”

In other words, the forsakenness – the abandonment – reached it’s most severe and ultimate point in the context of “pitch blackness”.  This is hell.  He went “down” … He went “under” – into the pit; into the “deep”.  The mighty “waves” of the deep crashed in over Him, and He was left in the ruin of forsakenness.  The “judgment” was for sin!!  And at the end of the three hours He said “…why have You forsaken Me?”  And, He said, “…it is finished”… the beginning and the end of Psalm twenty-two.

He is reciting His Own words He now realizes and fulfills in Himself.  The Word became flesh” and experiences His Own inspiration.  He conceives thoughts and concepts and receives His Own….  In a sense He maintains Himself and confirms Himself in quoting and experiencing His Own Words….  However, His self-maintenance and self-confirmation is also self-rejection.  That transcends our comprehension.  God forbid that we might ever understand His forsakenness.

But even those in hell can’t understand it.  They’ve not yet been finally judged, so they’ve not yet suffered the absolute revulsion and total abandonment of God!  So this fourth utterance from the cross is unapproachable to every creature on earth – in hell or in heaven!  All we can do is try to appreciate it.

Our Lord must have thought many times about this fourth utterance from the cross….  He began to experience it, you remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane – forsakenness.

But God was busy asserting Himself and saving the world.  And the “way” to that lead over Golgotha.  God willed the redemption.  He loved His creation so much that He willed its redemption… at such cost!  Therefore, the “forsakenness”.

God forsook the Son on the basis of Law.  Christ is forsaken because of His relationship to Law.  He became sin, and God administers the full justice to Him as THE Lawbreaker.  And He cannot repent.  He, Himself, is the perfect, infinite God; and He experiences infinite suffering and abandonment.  That’s terribly impressive.

Christ is put “under” the curse.  And human language is here strained to the breaking point of its capacity.  As David said in the Psalm, “God is far removed from my roaring.”  Christ is in the midst of eternal death.  He was repulsive… with neither form nor comeliness; the comfort of the Spirit is withdrawn; all sustenance stopped.  This is perfect oppression!!  As David cried out in verse three:  “You did not answer…!”  And we stand back and dare not open our mouths in explanation.

“Covenantal communion” is the term that reflects the relationship between God and His people.  Man responds to Covenant, and stands in a relationship of duty, privilege and fellowship.  But Christ’s was the sinless heart.  Christ did all duty, and perfectly obeyed the Covenant.  And He stood in perfect communion with God, as God-man.

But here on the cross that unity is no longer.  The union is broken… He is a Covenant-breaker.  And His infinite grief is therein apprehended:  The Covenant Keeper is excommunicated.  He is completely broken; and He retains nothing except… “why?”

It’s not an anthropomorphism… it’s real brokenness and incomprehensible abandonment.  It’s not figurative… it is objective rejection of the God-man.

He can’t get rid of God; He can’t take a sedative; He can’t come down!  He can’t avoid what is happening – because He has thought and spoken and acted in response to and in obedience to the Father!  Because God required a perfect victim.  And Jesus the Perfect Man had to pay.

And as David did, He turned and spoke to God – never relinquishing the faith that this was His Father’s will.

When Adam became sin, he hid himself in the trees.  And it was God Who came thundering in judgment to find him.  But Christ was unsummoned.  All was “mute” in thick darkness.  And from the blackness of hell He cries out to God in the written prophecy of the Psalmist.  He corrected and atoned for Adam’s sin… and ours.  And the darkness was de-created.  It was finished.

Herein is our salvation.  The entire suffering and humiliation and forsakenness of Jesus Christ is essentially unexplainable; but its incomprehensibility is more firmly revealed to us here than at any other place – more than at any other time.  God the Father forsook God the Son.  But the Christ which He Authored – and experienced – is a Christ of victory.  From forsakenness came victory!

I think that when those standing there in the dark heard Jesus call out to God, they really knew Who He was speaking to.  And they contemptuously said, “This fellow is calling Elijah (or some other prophet).”  After three hours of it being pitch black in the middle of the day, it sounds as if there was some “fearful” “shoring up” of their own courage… even in the contempt!

The “mockery” continued even in the face of plain, prophetic fulfillment.  It was generally thought that Elijah would come in advance of Messiah.  But here the self-proclaimed Messiah was near death on the cross.  Maybe there was still time for Elijah to come and save Him?  Fear and hard-heartedness at the same time…?

Jesus once said if you believe not Moses, you will not believe Me… even if one arises from the dead!!

This is an obvious judgmental phenomena!  It’s plain!  It is an irreversible rejection of a blasphemous nation.  It is a reprehensible blindness and hard-heartedness – and fear at the same time!  How courageous they were to continue their mockery and contempt in the face of such evidence!

But God did not do all these things to present evidence… as that men might believe Him.