The end of Jesus’ life was near.  His ordeal that had begun barely twelve hours earlier with His arrest in Gethsemane, followed by two inquisitions and four trials, had culminated at Golgotha where He was crucified as a malefactor between two criminals.  The religious leaders supposed that in ridding themselves of their enemy God had granted them their will as they were walking in His light.  But they were only half right: God had given them over to their own will, but having raised Him on the cross their noon-day light was turned to darkness as a supernatural sign of the spiritual darkness that had enveloped their hearts and for which the Jewish nation would now be cast into outer darkness for rejecting her Messiah; see Mat 8:12.  Jesus’ birth was marked by the extraordinary light that guided the Gentile Magi to worship the king of the Jews.  Now, His death was marked by this extraordinary darkness that further signaled the passing of His light to the Gentiles, so that while the Jewish leaders mocked and tempted Jesus as He died, the Roman centurion and soldiers keeping watch exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mat 27:54).  All three synoptic gospels note that this darkness lasted from the sixth to the ninth hour, about noon till three PM.  The synoptics are entirely silent about this time as if to reflect the silence in which Jesus suffered during the darkness as an example for how those who would follow Him in the way of the cross would also need to patiently endure similar times of darkness; see 1Pe 2:19-21.  One last earthly thing noted by John that may have happened during this time was that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to His closest disciple, thus fulfilling His obligation to the fifth commandment, and reminding us of ours—even when suffering in darkness; see Joh 19:26-28.

What does Matthew report happened at the conclusion of the darkness, even as it was giving way to the light that His broken vessel would pour forth (cf. Jdg 7:16-20, 2Co 4:6-11)?  See Mat 27:46, cf. Mar 15:34.  What is the significance that both Matthew and Mark record not only the meaning of Jesus’ words, but the actual words He spoke?  See Mat 27:47 and note that the name Elijah means My God is Yahweh so that those hearing a dying man gasping for breath to say My God, My God could easily misunderstand that He was calling for Elijah.  Why does Mark record “Eloi, Eloi…” whereas Matthew has “Eli, Eli…”?  Note: in Hebrew, the most common word for God with which the non-Jewish readers to whom Mark was writing would be familiar is Elohim.  But El (as in El Shaddai, God Most High), though much less frequent, is often used synonymously and is the actual word used in Psa 22:1 that Jesus was quoting.  The ending letter i is in both cases the Hebrew suffix added to words for the first-person possessive pronoun my.  Thus, both Matthew’s and Mark’s renderings are equally valid transliterations of the meaning, My God, My God…  And since the purpose of including the transliteration was to explain the misunderstanding of the bystanders that He was calling for Elijah, Mark’s rendering served that purpose to His Gentile readers in the same way that Matthew’s did to his Jewish readers.

What are we to make of these words of Jesus from the cross as He was about to die?  Had God in fact forsaken Him, or was Jesus wavering in His own faith that He had repeatedly shared with His disciples?  Cf. Psa 16:10, Mat 16:21, 17:23, 20:19.  Why then did He cry out in this way?  See Psa 22:1-31, esp. Psa 22:4-5,19-22,24.  As Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, in what very real sense from His perspective upon the cross would it have felt like God had forsaken Him as the darkness of death enveloped His mortal body?  Would His human nature, like ours, have been able to see through that darkness, except by faith?  Consider that the words David wrote in Psalm 22:1 were followed by the rest of the psalm expressing the hope of salvation from the despair that David was experiencing at the time he wrote them.  In crying out, “My God, My God, why have You Forsaken Me?” in what way then was Jesus not only expressing the harrowing darkness of death that had come upon Him, but referencing the faith of His father David in the midst of that darkness?  What does Jesus’ cry then indicate about the same darkness of despair He experienced in facing death that each one of us shall encounter, as well as the faith that He kept even unto death as an example for us to follow?

What does the despair that even Jesus experienced when facing death remind us about its darkness and power that makes it man’s greatest enemy, and why Satan is able to leverage that fear of death to enslave mankind?  Cf. 1Co 15:26,54-55, Heb 2:14-15.  As people in our own day have rejected faith in God to deliver them from their fear of death and instead put their faith in modern medicine and other works of their own hands to save them, in what ways have they again been enslaved?  Cf. Mar 5:25-26.  What does this also teach us about the subtle temptation to man’s fallen nature of idolatry (looking to the works of one’s own hands to save him), that in spite of all his modern understanding that even disparages primitive idolaters, still ensnares all who reject faith in God for the salvation He provides, a salvation not from death through our own works or wisdom, which is the snare, but salvation from sin through death?  Cf. Eph 5:5, Col 3:5, Gal 5:19-20.