It is most unfortunate that the producers of The Bible mini-series chose to ignore the context of Jesus’ cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This time, instead of changing Jesus’ words as they did at his baptism by John and the temptation by the devil that altered the true meaning of each occasion, the producers have Jesus utter his all-important question in the full light of day instead of near the end of the darkness enshrouding the heavens from noon until three o’clock. Their violation of the scriptural context makes Jesus appear confused and ignorant about what was happening. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus understood all of the Old Testament prophecies regarding the death of God’s Servant. In Jn 10:17-18, he provides us with his own commentary on the coming deadly deed to wit: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.” Also Jesus had been given the authority by God to judge all by reason of his life that culminated in “fulfilling all righteousness” at his baptism wherein he atones for the sins of the world (Jn 1:29, 5:17-26). This being so raises the question as to what his cry on Golgotha means.
Jesus provides the necessary insight in Mt 24:35-36 as follows: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” On Golgotha, the fullness of belief in God displayed in Jesus and the fullness of unbelief by those “who thought they were doing God’s will” meet. Jesus fulfilled the obedience to God’s commandments throughout his life and was deemed to be a blasphemous sinner by most of the people of Israel. In Deut 30:16-20, Moses anticipates this very event: “If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Jesus fulfilled Moses’ prophecy but “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.” Golgotha represents the pinnacle of the rejection of Jesus by fallen angels and humans, Jews and Gentiles.
“The Darkness” signifies God’s revelation to Jesus that the end of the universe was at hand for him to adjudicate. God never rescinded Jesus’ authority to judge all. Jesus volunteered to die but not in the dissolution of the universe. Jesus’ prayer confessing his need for God under the most horrific conditions possible constitutes the judgment that stops the universe’s collapse even as he repudiates Satan’s indictment (Heb 1:3 and Job 2:4-5). Jesus’ words are “spirit and life.” He fulfills the Great Commandment under the terms set by “the power of darkness” and his minions to abuse their exercise of freedom by crucifying God’s Beloved Son. In time, at his conception, in his growth unto his baptism, in his ministry, in Gethsemane, on Golgotha, in his resurrection, and ascension for all eternity Jesus reveals his true identity as the Savior of the world. “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” The ascent of God and Man are one in Jesus, the Christ. For “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man…” even into the depths of Hell (Jn 3:13 and I Ptr 4:6).
William M. Yavelak