READ: Matthew 27:45-46
“At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
What comes to mind when you think of the word “substitute?” Maybe you think of a teacher that shows a movie instead of lecturing. Maybe you think of people using cauliflower as a substitute for pizza crust. Maybe your mind even goes to those bright yellow packets on the table at Waffle House. They are supposed to taste like sugar, but they totally taste like bleach.
I’m sure that most of you didn’t immediately think about Jesus. However, substitution is a major theological concept that, when understood, can change our entire worldview. During the crucifixion, the sky suddenly became black around noon. After three hours of silence and darkness, Jesus broke the tension by shouting, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” These are some of the most shocking words in all of scripture. This phrase, quoted from the Psalms, actually means “why have you rejected me?” Shockingly, Jesus was feeling abandoned by God. Why was He feeling this way? Because He was.
Jesus walked around in perfect union with God the Father throughout His entire ministry. Now, at this moment, Jesus had absorbed all the sin of humankind. God had to look away. This shattered their intimate relationship. It can be hard to wrap our heads around this truth, but Jesus took your punishment for you. The Bible teaches that sin equals death, so Jesus died in your place. Like the sacrificial lamb in Genesis, Jesus died to give you life.
This seems serious because it is. Sin is serious. This act of love reveals the significance of sin, the holiness of God, and the extravagance of His mercy. Through His death, we get to experience life, eternal life with God. Jesus was our substitute. He took your place to ensure nothing can come between you and God.