It was high noon in Jerusalem, yet it was pitch black. With the cross as ground zero, our planet became a God-forsaken place as the Father turned his back, and the sun retreated from its place in the sky. As Jesus willingly hung on the cross, taking into his own life all the evil, vile sin-filth of mankind, God couldn’t watch. The Father was forced to treat his Son as an enemy; his righteous wrath was poured out on him as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. In that awful, beautiful moment, Jesus became God’s enemy so you could become God’s friend.
The Journey: Mark 15:33-34
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Frederick the Great, was the King of Prussia for almost a half century in the 1700’s. He was in Potsdam when he encountered one of his generals, who was in his severe disfavor. At their meeting the general saluted with the greatest respect, but Frederick abruptly turned his back on the officer. To that, the general humbly said, “I am happy to see that Your Majesty is no longer angry with me.”
That got Frederick’s attention, so he turned and asked, “How so?”
The general responded, “Because Your Majesty has never in his life turned his back on an enemy.”
It was said that the general’s daring statement led to his reconciliation with Frederick.
There was another time in a far more important place when God turned his back on his very own Son as Jesus hung on the cross. That’s why Jerusalem, right in the middle of the day, went pitch black. In that awful moment, with the cross as Ground Zero, our planet became a God-forsaken place. With Jesus willingly hanging on the cross, taking into his own life all the evil, vile sin-filth of mankind, God couldn’t watch. The Father was forced to treat his Son as an enemy; his righteous wrath was poured out on him as he hung on that cross. Jesus became God’s enemy and paid the price of reconciliation so you could become God’s friend.
On the cross, Jesus took on your sins and mine—he became sin for us. It was our sin, the sins of the whole world, that he bore on the tree, and it was that sin at which God’s righteous anger was directed. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21,
For God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
What a beautifully simple yet unfathomable truth: Christ’s death on the cross was the only means to our reconciliation with God. Jesus paid the ultimate price to satisfy God’s righteous wrath and bring us peace with God. We who were enemies were brought near to God, now as friends. Martin Luther wrote,
Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”
For Jesus, the cross was a God-forsaken place. Hallelujah for God-forsaken places!