“Eli Eli lama sabachthani”




[Mark 15:33-36]




This is the fourth word Jesus said on the cross: “Eli Eli lama sabachthani.”


Look at Mark 15:34 – “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’-- which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  During the Wednesday service last week, we meditated on the fourth word of Jesus on the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama, sabachthani,” centered on Matthew 27:46.  About 700 years before Jesus Christ came to this world, the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53:7 that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would be silent.  And according to this prophecy, Jesus was silent.  But before dying on the cross, He cried out loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (Mt. 27:46).  Even though Jesus had no sin, He was forsaken by Heavenly Father because of our sins, so He cried out loudly, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”


Today, I would like to meditate on the fourth word spoken by Jesus on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani,” centered on Mark 15:33-36, especially verse 34.  First, we should note that the word “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani” is Aramaic.  In other words, Jesus shouted out loud in Aramaic, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani” from the cross.  At that time, the Israelites also spoke Aramaic.  The next thing we want to think about is, 'When did God the Father forsake Jesus the Son?'  Look at Mark 15:33-34: “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’--which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  When Jesus cried out loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me")?  It was not when Jesus was interrogated by Annas, the high priest.  It wasn’t when He was interrogated by Caiaphas, or when He was judged by the Sanhedrin.  It wasn’t when He was questioned and tried by Pilate, or when He was questioned by King Herod.  Nor did Jesus say this word while carrying the cross and going to the skull (Golgotha), the place where He would be crucified and punished.  It wasn’t when He was crucified, nor did He spoke this word when He was crucified for three hours (from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm).  Nor did Jesus say this word in the darkness from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.  It was about 3:00 pm, when it was all over, that He cried out loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani.”  Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty" (Jn. 19:28) and after He received the wine vinegar, He said “It is finished (v. 30) and He bowed His head and His soul left.  But before He died, He cried out loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (Mk. 15:34).


I would like to think of 3 things that Jesus is showing us here when He cried out loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani” on the cross:


First, Jesus' "Eli Eli lama sabachthani" shows us that God is righteous, just, and holy.


If we look at the prayer taught by Jesus (the Lord’s Prayer), Jesus says, “Hallowed be Your name” (Mt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2).  God is Holy.  Look at Habakkuk 1:13a – “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor ….”  Because God is holy, righteous, and just, He cannot bear to see sin with His pure eyes.  A holy, righteous, and just God hates sin, cannot tolerate it, and always punishes it mercilessly.  God is a righteous God who punishes sins mercilessly, but even rejects Jesus Christ (Mt. 3:17), the only begotten Son whom He loves and delights in, on the cross.


Second, Jesus' “Eli Eli lama sabachthani” shows us how heavy and terrifying the price of sin is.  In other words, Jesus' “Eli Eli lama sabachthani” shows us that the price of sin is death.


In Genesis 2:16-17, God commanded Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the Garden of Eden.  He said, “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (v. 17).  However, Adam disobeyed the word of God's covenant and ate the forbidden fruit (3:6), resulting in death, the penalty for sin.  He was forsaken by God.  In Matthew 5:26, among the words from Matthew 5 to 7, where Jesus gave the words of the law on the mountain, Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.”  Here, one cent is the lowest unit of money among the Roman people at the time of Jesus.  In the Korean version of the Korean version, it says “Hori”, but “Hori” here is a very small unit of money equivalent to a quarter of a cent (1 cent is only about 1/16 of a denarius, equivalent to a day’s wages) (Internet) [That's 1 cent in America now].  The meaning of what Jesus said here is that a debtor cannot get out of prison if he has not paid even a single cent.  In other words, it was emphasized that it is extremely difficult for a debtor to avoid punishment until the debt is paid off, as it is completely hopeless for the debtor to pay even the last cent of the debt.  In other words, Jesus' words in Matthew 5:26 indicate the final condemnation through God's judgment (Internet).  In many prisons in the world, no one is in jail because they pay off their debts over and over again and then pay off a cent.  Although this is the law of this world, under God's law, if we do not pay even a cent, we will receive eternal punishment and cannot come out of eternal prison (hell).  God is so righteous that He punishes sin terribly.  Even if it is a sin like a cent, so we do not see the sin as a sin, God is a holy, righteous, and righteous God who punishes us terribly.  For example, even if all the hairs on our head are resolved, even a single sin on the tip of our head cannot be tolerated or hidden from God.  God knows all of our sins.  That is why Jesus Christ was forsaken by Heavenly Father for all our sins.  In other words, Jesus was forsaken by God in order to take on all of our cent sins, 1 cent sins, and even the sins of the tip of a hair.


Thirdly, Jesus' "Eli Eli lama sabachthani" shows us the fulfillment of prophecy.


The prophecy here refers to the words of Psalms 22:1 that David prophesied about 1,000 years before Jesus came to this world: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.”  If we look at the title (preface) of this Psalms 22, it says, “A psalm of David, a song to Ayelet-Shahal with a warrant.”  However, this Psalms 22 is a prophecy rather than a song.  How can we know it?  Beside Psalms 22:1 [“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the prophecy that was accomplished by Jesus who cried out on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk. 15:34)], we can see verse 18 as another example: “They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”  This prophecy is fulfilled in John 19:23-24: “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  ‘Let's not tear it,’ they said to one another.  ‘Let's decide by lot who will get it.’  This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, ‘They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.’  So this is what the soldiers did.” 


Jesus being forsaken by Heavenly Father in this way satisfied God's justice.  Jesus took on all our sins, even sins that are as small as a cent, invisible sins, and sins that do not count as sins, and forsaken them to Heavenly Father on the cross until He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani!” and satisfied God's justice.  Look at Isaiah 53:11 – “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.”  The Son of God, Jesus Christ, saw the hard work of the soul being forsaken by Heavenly Father and was satisfied with it.  The reason is because it was God's will.  Jesus was satisfied with what God had predestined and prophesied in advance through the prophets of the Old Testament, and Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament.  Not only that, but Heavenly Father was also satisfied and rejoiced.  In order to satisfy Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ took on all our sins (not only great sins, but even the most cent sins) and suffered all of them, even being forsaken by Heavenly Father on the cross.  Therefore, we must listen with faith to Jesus Christ's loud cry from the cross, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).  And since Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, was forsaken by God, and thus we are forgiven by God, we must give thanks, praise and worship to God forever and ever for this amazing grace of forgiveness of sins.  And we must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with the love of Jesus Christ.