And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:33–39)
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For me, these are the most haunting words of scripture.
Why would the Father abandon the Son? Why would the Father forsake his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased?
In other words, what is the reason for the darkness that had fallen upon the land? What is the reason for the shadow of the cross that hovers over all of human history?
There are a lot of nuanced theological reasons that can be given. They revolve around theological concepts like justification, sanctification, substitutionary atonement, covenant fulfillment, theory of Christus Victor, and the list could go on.
But at the end of the day, the answer that keeps ringing in my ears for the necessity of the cross is me.
In the eternity of that moment, when the Son cried out to the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I believe that the Father placed my name and your name on the mind of the Son.
Regardless of your theological convictions about atonement and justification, it was not God who needed atonement; it was not God who needed victory over death; it was not God who needed justification or sanctification. I needed atonement, victory over death, and sanctification.
Because of the love that the Godhead has for me, the Father sent the Son, and the Son willingly went to the cross.
And in that moment when the shadow of the cross was the darkest, it was my name, and your name, that held Jesus on the cross. We were the reason for the shadow of the cross, and the curse of that shadow was upon Christ so that the blessing of the shadow could be upon us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Son because of your great love. Jesus, thank you for your willingness to take the curse of the cross so that I can experience the blessing that comes from it. In the name of Jesus, amen.