Mark now describes the moment that the Lord Jesus Christ died. Nothing in the whole history of the world is more important and solemn as this event. The very second the Messiah drew His last breath, the atonement for all mankind was accomplished and the Kingdom was open to all who would believe in Him. This never to be repeated sacrifice was the only means of redemption that both Jew and Gentile would ever receive.
“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34).
For three hours prior to the death of Christ the sun was darkened. It seems that even the sun hid its face from the exceeding wickedness of those who stood gloating around the cross. The darkness illustrates the fact that God the Father hid His face from the scene being played out upon the earth. The moment Christ “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Father turned His eyes away from His only begotten Son. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
There are no words to express what Jesus actually felt when He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” This was the severest of the pain, suffering and torment He endured for our sake. His cry is absolutely meaningless if He were but a man dying as a martyr to a cause. His cry was the breaking point as the heavy pressure of the world’s sin was laid upon Him. Only in that moment did He feel forsaken, and even then God the Father would say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) … “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (Psalm 22:24).
“And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down” (Mark 15:35-36).
Even when Jesus was in the throws of immense pain and anguish His enemies showed not an ounce of compassion. On two occasions people tried to give Jesus vinegar to drink. In Mark 15:23, just before His crucifixion, we read, “And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.” … “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21). Vinegar mixed with gall was used as a narcotic to dull the pain, but Jesus refused it because He would feel the full force of the suffering. The second time vinegar was offered to Him, He tasted it, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:37-38).
The rending of the veil indicates that the whole of the Jewish ceremonial law was abolished by God. It teaches that entrance to the Holy of Holies was open to all mankind who believe in Christ. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). Both Jew and Gentile now have the privilege of coming “boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). The position of the high priest was done away with, for now Christ is our “Great High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14). The barrier that prohibited man from standing in God’s presence was removed. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:12-16).
When Jesus cried “It is finished” (John 19:30), all of His suffering and agonies for the redemption of fallen humanity were over and the work of salvation was complete. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28) … “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
Jesus Christ died to redeem us, but a dead body on a cross is not the true symbol of New Testament Christianity. Unless Christ rose as literally as He died, then our faith is worthless. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). In our next study we will look at Mark’s account of the resurrection of Jesus.