We are continuing our meditation on the last seven sayings of Christ while His life was slowly ebbing away on the cross.
4) The fourth saying Jesus spoke was, "'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"' (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The question arises, if Jesus had never sinned as the Scriptures teach, and that He was totally pure and innocent of all charges of blasphemy brought against Him, why would Christ feel forsaken of God near the hour of His death?
Speaking about the Lord Jesus being our substitutionary sacrifice, Paul wrote: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21Emphasis mine). Just as the high priest, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), laid his hands on a sacrificial animal to make atonement for sin, praying the transference of the sins of the nation to the animal, so now God transferred the sin of the world to Jesus. The Lord became the sin-bearer for the whole human race. Scripture tells us that God is too pure to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), so for the first time in eternity, fellowship between the Son of God and the Father was broken as the Father turned away from Christ. Christ came to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. As death drew near, Jesus spoke for the fifth time:
5) “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).
We cannot tell what Christ was experiencing when He spoke the fifth saying. Some commentators say that He was beginning to suffer the thirst of a man without God. The thought is that because Christ was bearing the sin of many, the Father had withdrawn from Jesus. We cannot tell for sure if this is so, but if it was, perhaps Christ was experiencing the thirst that the rich man in hell suffered upon death (Luke 16:24). The rich man’s experience was that he was thirsty and desired Lazarus to dip his finger into water to cool his tongue.
King David, in a prophetic psalm about the crucifixion, spoke of Christ’s body being pierced and shutting down; he wrote: “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15). The tongue of the Lord Jesus was sticking to the top of His mouth, that being a normal process of crucifixion. The Lord had now drunk the cup of God's judgment to the full (Luke 22:42), so he looked for some relief to be able to shout His next words of victory. This time there was no myrrh, no narcotic offered Him (which He refused); it was sour wine on a sponge that was lifted to His mouth. "A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips (John 19:29).
Interestingly, Scripture tells us that someone at the cross raised a hyssop plant with a sponge of sour vinegar to Christ’s lips to relieve the Lord of His dry mouth. Hyssop was the same plant dipped in the blood of a lamb and used to strike the doorposts and lintels at the time of the Passover from Egypt (Exodus 12:22). The children of Israel were delivered from slavery to Egypt by a substitute lamb's blood, just as we are delivered from the bondage of sin by the substitutionary blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus.
Christ took a drink from the sponge on the hyssop, and both Matthew and Mark record that He shouted out something from the cross before giving up His spirit: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50). He pushed one more time on the wedge of wood under His feet and shouted His following words loudly. It is John who tells us what He victoriously called out. Let's talk about that tomorrow. Keith Thomas.
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Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, Study 63. The Crucifixion of Christ