As I write this, the time is 2:45 in the afternoon on Good Friday.
Jesus was on the cross from approximately the 3rd hour (9 am) to the 9th hour (3pm). The pain He would have felt physically was excruciating. However, that wasn’t the worst part of the cross.
The message my pastor brought this past Sunday, “What Really Happened at the Cross” went much deeper, allowing me to experience today in a whole new way.
At a stop light today, I looked at the clock it was, 11:50 am, ten minutes before the 6th hour. The book of Matthew says this,
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,”Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtham? – Which means, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matt 27:45,46 Psalm 22:1 (NIV 1984)
He went on to say the description of Hell is darkness and separation from God. Jesus experienced this to the nth degree. The punishment for sin is death, a separation from God.
As Christ hung between heaven and earth He felt that separation not only for me but for all who came before me, who live in the world with me and those who have yet to live. He felt what it would be like for the whole would to be separated from His Father. How is it that He could possibly feel billions upon billions of people’s punishment all at once? The pastor said, being who He was (God in the flesh) He could. We can have no comprehension of how this is possible.
1 John says,
“and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (2:2 NASB)
I looked up the definition of that big word “propitiation” in the Greek. The definition stunned me. It says, “that which appeases anger and brings reconciliation with someone who has reason to be angry with one” (NASB Key word study Bible)*. He not only felt the separation but also satisfied God’s wrath for sin.
I see the clock, it is now 3 pm. Shortly after this Jesus said,
“…He said, ‘It is finished.’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” John 19:30 (NASB)
The better translation of “it is finished”, is “Paid in full”. There was nothing more to be done. The punishment was completely paid for. Nothing else was needed.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only too take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to
lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17,18 (NIV 1984)
* NASB Hebrew-Greek Key word study Bible AMG International Inc. 2008, pg 2190