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God Visits Calvary

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2021 4:00 am

God Visits Calvary

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Jesus said, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Is that an indication that God was not there? Well the answer to that question is He was there. And God was there in a way that you would not suspect. God was there to punish His Son. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's been called the hinge on which all of history turns. It's certainly the turning point in the Bible, the painful crescendo of Jesus' earthly ministry, and yet Scripture says surprisingly little about the physical pain Jesus experienced on the cross. Scripture focuses on something much more important, and what is that focus? John MacArthur has the answer today on Grace to You as he continues his series, The Divine Drama of Redemption. You'll get a portrait of Christ's love today that will prepare you for profound worship on Resurrection Sunday. And with that, let's get to the lesson.

Here's John. We return to Mark chapter 15 and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to read again the passage that we're looking at today, starting in verse 22 and reading all the way to verse 41, Mark 15 verse 22, then they brought Him to the place Golgotha which is translated place of a skull.

They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh but He did not take it. And they crucified Him and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. It was the third hour when they crucified Him. The inscription of the charge against Him read, The King of the Jews.

They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, And He was numbered with transgressors. Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, Ha, you who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross. In the same way, the chief priests also along with the scribes were mocking Him among themselves and saying, He saved others, He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross so that we may see and believe those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, Behold, He is calling for Elijah. Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave Him a drink saying, Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down. And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last.

The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who was standing right in front of Him saw the way He breathed His last, He said, Truly this man was the Son of God. There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him.

And there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. All that is being said to Jesus is disingenuous. It is all, as we read in verse 31, mockery. It is all insult, as we read in verse 32.

Something about this is intended to show Jesus scorn and disdain and ridicule and mock the notion that He is any kind of King at all. The blasphemy is so great, unparalleled and unequaled in history, that we ask the question this morning, Where is God? Shouldn't He have consumed the blasphemers and stopped the ridicule of His beloved Son? Shouldn't He have come down immediately and obliterated these blasphemers and protected His Son?

The answer to that is no. God doesn't come down to destroy the blasphemers and He doesn't come down to protect His Son. And that is because of what it says in Isaiah 53, 10, that it pleased the Lord to crush Him, to put Him to grief. It was the will of God that He be treated in this manner and that He be killed.

We know why, that He might be a sacrifice for sin, that He might die in the place of sinners, that He might bear the curse for us, that He might bear the punishment for our sins. So God did not come down either to destroy the blasphemers or to protect His Son. And you might think that God never came down because Jesus said, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Is that an indication that God was not there, that God was not there to punish the blasphemers?

He was not there to protect His Son. He was not there at all. Well the answer to that question is He was there. In the moment that Jesus said that, He was feeling the absence of God. But God was there and God was there in a way that you would not suspect.

As long as I have taught on this and looked at this, I have never really heard explained what I'm going to explain to you. Yes, God was there and He was there not to punish the blasphemers and not to protect His Son, but to punish His Son. Let's look at the passage.

Three features come out of this account, three separate features. First we look at the Savior and the consummation of His sacrifice. Then we look at the centurion and the confession of his faith.

And then we look at the women and the confusion in their minds. First of all, the Savior and the consummation of His death in verses 33 through 38. Here's the high point of salvation history. This is the death of Christ. This is the long-awaited Lamb of God dying for the sins of the world. We understand the theology of the cross and I want you to look at some of the details of the cross that inform that theology at its very initial point.

Others are inadequate to capture the supernatural reality of what is happening on the cross. And again, what I read to you is so matter of fact and so simple, a statement, for example, in verse 33, when the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour is so loaded with truth as to be almost more than we can ever bear. When the sixth hour came, it would be noon, according to the Jewish day which began at 6 A.M., or about that time, at sunrise. An hour in the ancient world without clocks and watches varied in length in a world without seconds and minutes and in differing seasons. But the sixth hour was always considered to be midday when the sun was at its zenith.

And so it was the sixth hour. The Lord by this time had already spoken three times. He had already said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do which informed the thief on the cross that forgiveness was available if He asked for it, which He did and received it. And then He said to John the Apostle, behold your mother, indicating that John was going to have to care for Mary since he could no longer do that and since his brothers were unbelievers in him, John was given the responsibility to care for Mary. And then from the cross He said to His mother, behold your son, meaning John, He put them in the care of each other.

The third thing He said was to the penitent thief when He said, today you will be with Me in paradise. And then it was midday. The blazing sun in the sky at about this time of year indicates the brightest light that day experiences. And it is precisely at that moment that darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour.

What is this? Some have suggested that this is a natural eclipse, hardly. Others have suggested that this is satanic darkness. But the truth of the matter is, this is God coming on the scene.

Maybe you've never heard that. I'm going to show you that in Scripture. If you read the Old Testament, as the Jews read the Old Testament, you would know what they knew, that God is often spoken of as light...often spoken of as light.

Psalm 27, 1, the Lord is my light and my salvation. However, any reader of the Old Testament also knows that there were times when God is spoken of as darkness. And it goes all the way back to Genesis 15, verses 12 to 15. And Exodus 10, verses 21 and 22. And Exodus 19 at Mount Sinai, verses 16 to 18 when God appears in darkness. And Exodus 20, verses 18 to 21, and Isaiah 5, and Isaiah 8 and other places. God also was associated with darkness. The presence of God could be manifest light and the presence of God could be manifest darkness. In particular, there is a theme in the Old Testament that needs to be understood by every reader of Scripture and that theme has to do with the Day of the Lord...the Day of the Lord.

A technical expression for judgment, a technical expression for divine judgment. And if we go to Old Testament passages that speak of divine judgment, we read things like this, alas for that day, Joel 1.15, for the Day of the Lord is near and it will come as destruction from the Almighty. What will it be like? Chapter 2 verse 10, the earth will quake, the heavens will tremble, the sun and the moon grow dark and the stars lose their brightness. Same chapter, Joel 2 and verse 30, I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, columns of smoke, the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes.

All of that is referring to the final day of the Lord, the eschatological day of the Lord that is the final judgment on this world. And it is a time when God is revealed in darkness and not in light. And thus do the prophets speak of cataclysmic events of divine judgment being times of darkness. Darkness symbolizes divine fury. Darkness symbolizes righteous wrath.

Final fury being unleashed. Darkness then is the ultimate form of God's presence in judgment. That is why hell which is everlasting subjection to divine judgment is a place that Jesus said in Matthew three times is outer darkness where there's weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in eternal, unrelieved blackness. And it is the darkness of God's presence. He is the one who is present in judgment in hell from noon to three o'clock. With that understanding in verse 33, hell came to Israel. As God is the true power behind hell's punishing experience, God is the true power behind the darkness of Calvary, for here He unleashes hell on His Son. This was the cup that Jesus anticipated in the Garden, the cup of wrath.

This is why it was such a revolting anticipation that made Him sweat drops of blood. Because in those three hours, think of it, Jesus suffered the eternal hell of all the people through human history who would be saved. He bore all their eternal punishments together and did it in three hours. You say, if the sinner in an eternity of punishment can never pay the price and thus it's eternal, how could Jesus in three hours receive the full eternal wrath for all the sinners who believe? The answer is, He could receive an infinite and eternal amount of wrath because He is an infinite and eternal person.

His capacity for everything is limitless and eternal. The darkness not the absence of God and it's not the presence of Satan. The darkness is not the absence of God, it is the presence of God. It is God in full judgment vengeance, God in full judgment fury. It is infinite wrath moved by infinite justice, releasing infinite punishment on the infinite Son who can absorb all the tortures of eternities of hell and do it in three hours. It is in those three hours that He bore in His body our sins. It is in those three hours that He was made sin for us. It is in those three hours that He took the curse and at the ninth hour, it ended.

Three o'clock, it ended. And Mark records the fourth statement of our Lord, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? The first thing He said after the darkness ended. How are we to understand that?

What does that mean? Didn't we just say God was there? This is very difficult for us to understand, obviously, talking about a divine person. I'm convinced that what our Lord is saying there is expressing the sense that the judgment has ended and He's wanting the comfort. After the wrath is exhausted, when God in full presence and full vengeance has poured it out, the whole cup has been consumed and the darkness is gone, so is God. Perhaps for that moment He knew God was there in the punishment. But when the punishment ended, where was God?

He seems to be experiencing the separation from God immediately after He has borne all the fury of His presence. This is a very, very important reminder to us that hell is the full fury of God's personal punishment, listen, but He will never be there to comfort. Is our Lord given here a preview of hell?

Punishment without comfort, punishment without compassion, punishment without sympathy, punishment without relief? That's what hell is. So even this is for Jesus to suffer all that hell is, all the wrath, all the presence of divine wrath and all the absence of divine comfort. I want you to notice that He cried out with a loud voice after the massive amount of physical pain and the difficulty in breathing had been inflicted upon Him, after the horrendous mental abuse in the relentless blasphemy. And then after God has exhausted infinite hells of punishment on Him, He is still strong and He cried out with a loud voice and asked where the Father was in that moment when He needed comfort. Jesus' cry, amazingly, still the darkness just vanishing, seems to raise no question with the people or change anything because in verse 35 when some of the bystanders heard Him, they began saying, "'Behold, He's calling for Elijah and the comedy is reignited.'"

Here's a reprise of the sarcasm. So this was more fuel for their scorn, their sarcasm. Oh, He's calling for the Elijah to come and rescue Him because He's righteous.

He's calling for Elijah, the one who is to accompany the arriving Messiah. So they take up more mockery and the darkness has just ended and they're right back mocking. You would think that darkness for three hours would shut down the mocking. But how deep is this blasphemy? How deep is this blasphemy?

It gets worse. Verse 36, someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave Him a drink, saying, "'Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.'" I don't know what you've thought about that in the past, but that's just more of the same ridicule. That's just more of the same abuse, more of the same scorn and blasphemy.

This is a cheap wine vinegar consumed by soldiers, usually mixed with water. Oh, let's give Him something to drink. That will prolong His life a little bit. And if we prolong His life a little bit, maybe Elijah will show up and rescue Him. He did say, "'I thirst.'" As Psalm 69 21 says, He would and He was offered this drink, but only in mockery.

Let's see if we can extend His life a little longer and maybe Elijah will show up. Then in verse 37, we have these very simple words, and Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last. Why a loud cry? Because He had said, as the gospels record, no one takes My life from Me, I lay it down of Myself. He didn't die because He couldn't breathe. He didn't die because He was out of strength. He cried out.

He screamed with a loud voice. In John 19 28, after Jesus was given the sour wine, it says in verse 30, John 19 30, therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, and here's what He screamed, it is finished. They tell us Thy one Word, it has been accomplished, and He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit. That's John MacArthur. He's the featured speaker here on Grace To You since 1969.

He is also Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. He's titled our current Easter series, The Divine Drama of Redemption. Now, John, this brand-new series comes from the Gospel of Mark, and that was the last of all the New Testament books that you preached through as you preached your way through the New Testament. Forty-plus years of teaching the New Testament, verse by verse, and you saved Mark till the end. Was that strategic?

Was there a particular reason that you did that? No, I honestly couldn't say there was a specific reason, but again, I just love the providence of God. It was really, really remarkable that after all those years of teaching the New Testament, we ended up in Mark, because Mark is the rapid-fire story of Christ, so we sort of ended where we began. We began in John 45 years later, whatever it was. We go back, and we cycle back through the story of Christ in the rapid-fire book of Mark. And by then, we were so loaded with all kinds of New Testament truth that I think it brought to even that kind of high-speed Gospel of Mark, a richness and a depth that wouldn't have been there without all those intervening years. So in God's plan, he wanted us to end there, because at the end of Mark is a part of the final chapter that calls into question the whole issue of inspiration. So I had to end 45 years of teaching the New Testament by telling people there's a problem with the last part at the end of this 45 years, and it allowed me to talk about the whole issue of inspiration and sweep back over it. So God always has his reasons, but no, I didn't plan it that way.

That is just the way the Lord planned it. And I'm always thrilled to go back to Mark at any time. I love the clarity of Mark. I love, again, the speed with which he moves through the story of Christ. But I also love the gems that the dramas that are there are phenomenal, and that is why we've called this series The Divine Drama of Redemption, and it's right out of the book of Mark. And by the way, you can get the book of Mark commentary in the New Testament commentary series. In fact, you can get any of the New Testament books, 34 volumes on the whole New Testament.

You might want to start with Mark. You'll find it incredibly helpful and a great blessing to you. The commentaries take you deep into the Word of God, and they are now available, obviously, from Grace to You. Just find out about the MacArthur New Testament commentary series.

Order one or the whole set. Shipping is free, and you can order now. And friend, if you love God's Word, you will love these commentaries. They'll help you interpret any passage in the New Testament, and John's commentaries on Mark are a great place to start your collection. To order the commentaries on Mark or the entire MacArthur New Testament commentary series, contact us today. You can order at our website,, or call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE. Individual volumes of the MacArthur New Testament commentary are available for $19, and shipping is free.

Again, you can order an individual volume or the whole 34-volume set. And you call 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, And when you get in touch, let us know if today's lesson encouraged you. Thanks too for letting us know you're praying for us, and know how much we appreciate your support in that way. And please mention the call letters of this station whenever you write.

That is a big help. You can send your email to letters at That's more, that's letters at Or send your letter to Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And thanks for remembering that Grace To You is listener-funded. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson inviting you back for Wednesday's broadcast. And John continues to lay out the reasons you have to worship Christ, not just at Easter, but all year long. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-10 00:38:16 / 2023-12-10 00:47:28 / 9

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