I am still wondering at the best way the Gospel could be read when it comes to the events that took place at Calvary. I understand that Jesus was alarmed and demanded to know why God had abandoned him in their bilateral deal.

And when the sixth hour[a] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(Mark 15:33-34 ESV)

Did God really abandon Jesus when he was dying on the cross? If he did, then what do we have to learn from that? What is the significance of the three-hour darkness that loomed over the land in verse 33?

  • Possibly related 1. Significance of God forsaking .... 2. Why did Jesus say ....
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 12:31
  • In which scripture text can be found evidence of this 'bilateral deal' ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 12:32
  • Philippians 2:8 say "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” I see that it was the agreement he had with the Father that made him to come to the earth in the appearance of a man and humbled himself unto death. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 14:03
  • (1). What was the significance of the star that marked His birth (Matthew 2) ? (2). Christ Himself willingly abandons His powers, in order to suffer martyrdom (Matthew 26:53; John 10:17-18).
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 8:48
  • @Lucian: Should we believe the star that appeared at his birth contrasts the 3-hour darkness? Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:39

3 Answers 3


This answer is for the main question: What is the significance of the three-hour darkness that loomed over the land in verse 33?

One of the main themes of Jesus' death and resurrection is the renewal of all creation.

The three hours of darkness - from noon to three in the afternoon - represent the primordial chaos that existed in Genesis 1:2. There is an idea that pervades the Bible and the ancient world that scholars call chaoskampf. Chaoskampf is a German word meaning "struggle against chaos." Genesis 1 is considered a chaoskampf because the earth was "formless and void" and then God - by speaking - brought order from chaos.

As Jesus is dying on the cross, it is as if the forces of chaos have prevailed. This may - in part - by why he cries out "My God, My God why have you forsaken me." But this isn't the end of the story. The forces of chaos - death being the ultimate chaos - will be defeated when Jesus' death is justified and he is raised from the earth. A new creation.

Most scholars connect this darkness with Amos 8:9-10:

And in that day, declares the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the daytime. I will turn your feasts into mourning (think the Passover festival) and all your songs into lamentation. I will cause everyone to wear sackcloth and every head to be shaved. I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, and its outcome like a bitter day.


In the year 31 AD, Jesus (Samson) was arrested after preparing and eating the Passover meal on the night of 1-15 but was executed 2 months later on 3-15 which was the date of a lunar eclipse. 3-15 is grape harvest and the New wine festival. The παρα-σκευή of the passover. The day of παρα-sychar (wine concoction). http://religion.wikia.com/wiki/Gospel_harmony_based_on_John

Pilate, therefore, entered into the praetorium again, and called Jesus, and said to him, "You are the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Not an earthly king. I am a different sort of king" Pilate, therefore, said to him, "So you are a king then"

Pilate, therefore, having heard this word, brought Jesus without -- and he sat down upon the tribunal -- to a place called, Pavement,' even though according to Hebrew gabbatha it was the day of παρα-sychar (of the passover), and as it were the sixth hour (noon), and he said to the Jews, `behold, your king!'

But the people didn't understand what this meant so Pilate put on a little show to show them what it means. Pilate knew there would be a total eclipse that night. Jesus was crucified 3 hours later at at 3 pm.

If 3 pm was the 1st hour of the crucifixion then 8 pm was the 6th hour.

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun became Skotos, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. When the eclipse ended Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why did you forsake me?”

Pilates symbolism would have been clear to the people of the time but unfortunately in the centuries that followed the new wine festival was expunged from the Bible (replaced by Pentecost), the lunar eclipse was forgotten, and God began to be thought of as being more like the Sun than the moon.

He was in the tomb at sunrise Thursday He arose Sunday morning.


I will attempt an answer that I hope will stick as much as possible to the text itself, avoiding the flights of fancy that are possible.

Leon Morris on the meaning of the word ἱλαστήριον in verse 25:

There are problems with the next expression, which KJV rendered “a propitiation” and which nearly every modern translation waters down.Part of the trouble is that “propitiation” is neither a well-known nor a well-used word today, and translators like to employ something simpler. But the major reason is that propitiation means the removal of wrath and, as we saw earlier (see the notes on 1:18), some commentators find the concept of the divine wrath distasteful and unworthy; so they write it out of Scripture.If there is no wrath there is no propitiation. There are two major reasons for rejecting this approach. One is the meaning of the word Paul uses. The detailed examinations mentioned in n. 126† show that the word means “the removal of wrath”. The other is the context. Paul has mounted heavy artillery in the section 1:18–3:20 to show that all are sinners and subject to the wrath of God. But unless the present term means the removal of wrath he has left them there, still under God’s wrath. Nothing else he says means the averting of wrath. On both accounts we should see Paul as saying that from one point of view Christ’s death means the removal of the divine wrath from believing sinners.

Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 180–181.

In Isa. 53:4-7

Isa 53:4-7 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.** 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

An article defending Penal substitution: https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/penal-substitution-is-the-heart-of-the-gospel/

What we know from passages such romans 3:25 is that Jesus was our propitiation. That through His sacrifice the wrath of the Father was satisfied. That implies that during the three hours He was on the cross that the wrath of the Father was being poured out upon Him as our great substitute. It is during this time that Jesus was also forsaken by the Father (Mark 15:37, Matthew 27:46). In this view, the darkness of the three hours was the physical manifestation of God's wrath that everyone could see. It may even have contributed something, along with the other events, to the mind of centurion (Mark 15:39); where he declared "truly this man was the Son of God." To a pagan like the centurion the physical manifestations in the heavens would have surely led him to believe that the gods were angry. It was not the gods who was at that moment were angry, it was the one true God who was pouring out His anger at the Son that we might never have to pay for our sins.

The concept of penal substitution is is based on God's justice. God's justice requires that there is a required punishment that must be paid. Therefore His death is more than just His death. This not appeasement which is a pagan concept. Appeasement as a concept of the actions of a man towards a god. Penal Substitution is the plan among the members of the Godhead, It is God who places the sins of the world on God the Son (2 Cor. 5:21). This was planned before the foundation of the earth. This points out that no man was responsible for the death of Christ, neither the Jews nor Pilate. It was the Father who brought about the death of the Son and it was always His purpose for the incarnation so that God was able to forgive sinners since the penalty for their sins had been paid by the sacrifice of His Son. Any systematic theology book would give numerous references within the Scriptures to explain this doctrine. Those texts would also detail the fact that a denial of this doctrine is an ancient heresy that has been around for centuries, in addition to the many other attempts to come up with a different intent of the atonement.

The wrath of God is a common theme in the book of Romans. Numerous times Paul refers to wrath in the book of Romans and nearly all of them refer to wrath of God either directly or indirectly.

Verses in Romans (bold directly referring to the wrath of God) Ro 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Ro 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Ro 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Ro 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Ro 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Ro 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Ro 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Ro 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Ro 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

As these verses show, the wrath of God already abides upon those who reject the person and work of Jesus Christ. Now if the wrath of God will be poured out upon the lost, and Jesus is our substitute then, by inference, He received the just punishment we all deserve, namely His wrath. That is the very heart of substitutionary atonement which is the very foundation of Biblical Christianity. To deny that He received our just punishment is to leave a person in their sins since they reject the person who paid the price for their sins.

Romans 3:25-26 is showing how God could be both just (righteousness) and at the same time the justifier of the ungodly. To do this we have to have faith in His substitionary sacrifice--the phrase through faith in His blood. If it was just faith in Him them there was no need to mention propitiation or His blood. His blood is in direct reference to His sacrifice. In doing so he became our propitiation (the Greek word ἱλαστήριον in verse 25).

Cross references include John's emphasis on the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. An interesting idea is also that of Revelation 21 where in the city of the new heavens and the new earth there will be no sun and moon as the glory of God will provide the light for the eternal city. So it should not surprise us that the Father removes the light during that time when the wrath of God was being poured out on the Son.

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    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 3:46

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