That afternoon, the whole earth was covered with darkness for three hours, from noon until three o’clock. About three o’clock, Jesus shouted, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine and put it on a stick and held it up to him to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah will come and save him.”
Then Jesus shouted out again, dismissed his spirit, and died.
We do not know how this darkness occurred, but it is clear that God caused it. Nature testified to the gravity of Jesus’ death, while Jesus’ friends and enemies alike fell silent in the encircling gloom. The darkness on that Friday afternoon was both physical and spiritual.
Jesus was not questioning God; he was quoting the first line of Psalm 22—a deep expression of the anguish he was feeling as he was taking on the sins of the world, which caused him to be separated from his Father. This was what Jesus had dreaded as he had prayed to God in the garden to take the cup from him (Matthew 26:39). The physical agony was horrible; even worse was the period of spiritual separation from his Father. Jesus suffered this double death so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God. Jesus has gone through so much for you. What can you do for him?