Jesus has been hanging on the Cross silently for three hours. And now He gathers His strength for four final statements that all come in pretty close proximity. His first three dying declarations have been declarations of love:
- Forgiveness for His tormentors required agape love
- Salvation for a lifelong criminal also required agape love
- Care for His mother was storgé love by entrusting her to John’s care, which was motivated by philos love
But now comes a word of sheer, unparalleled agony. A word from a heart that is experiencing the depths of betrayal and pain that has never been known—or even approached—in all of human history: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani! (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34)
Does this sound like a good Friday message: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
This is the only one of the seven dying declarations of Jesus that Matthew and Mark record, and they do it nearly identically:
- It’s spoken in the everyday language of the people: Aramaic
- It’s translated into the worldwide language of business and literature: Greek
- It’s a direct quotation of Hebrew Scripture
This is a word for everyone: Jews and Greek, nobles and commoners, religious people and pagans.
This dying declaration comes from words taken directly from Psalm 22. David wrote this psalm 1000 years before the crucifixion of Jesus, but note the amazing accuracy in the despicable treatment of Jesus, gambling for Christ’s clothes, even the crucifixion itself (which was unknown in David’s time), and then there’s the heart-wrenching cry My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Matthew and Mark say Jesus “cried out.” This can mean a cry of joy or a cry of pain. They also record that He cried out with “a loud voice.” The Greek words here will sound very familiar even to English ears—“loud” is the word megas, and “voice” is the word phoné. Literally: Jesus raised a megaphone voice to make sure everyone heard His cry!
Remember that cried out can either be a cry of joy or of pain? Which one was it? You could make the case that it is both of these meanings. But there is a third way of using this word: a cry for help.
Jesus is about to take a plunge. He is about to descend deeper than anyone else ever has. He is about to voluntarily go into Hell itself. This megaphone cry is His battlecry before storming the gates of Hell!
Christ’s megaphone battlecry was heard in Hell and in Heaven as Jesus descended to decisively defeat hell, death, and the grave! Make no mistake, Jesus undoubtedly won that battle! That same descriptive word megas is also used for…
- …the stone in front of His grave is a megas stone
- …the earthquake that rolled away that stone on Resurrection morning was a megas earthquake
- …the joy of Christ’s friends at seeing the tomb empty was a megas joy
- …the trumpet sound at Christ’s Second Coming when He returns to earth as the Conquering King will be a megas blast, and His shout a megaphone cry (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)!
Jesus went to the deepest depths to take us to the highest heights!
His megaphone declaration from the Cross on Good Friday was a cry of pain over our sin, a battlecry as He stormed the gates of Hell, and a cry of joy over His coming victory!
So now we can say, “Where, O Death, is your victory? Oh yeah, you don’t have one because my Savior has totally defeated you!”
If you’ve missed any of the other dying declarations of Jesus from the Cross, you may access the full list by clicking here.