First, what happened on the cross? The sins of those who will believe in Christ were placed upon him. Isaiah prophesied this. Isaiah 53 says this in various ways: he was wounded for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities; our chastisement was put upon him to bring us peace; the LORD laid upon him the iniquity of us all; he made an offering for guilt. (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10)
The New Testament explains it further. Romans 3:25 says God put Christ forward as a propitiation by this blood. Propitiation means God’s wrath for sin was satisfied.
1 Corinthians 15:3 - Christ died for our sins.
Galatians 1:4 says Christ died for our sins.
Colossians 2:14 says God has forgiven our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us by nailing it to the cross.
1 Peter 2:24 - He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.
There are many more.
We call this concept “substitutionary atonement.” Christ died instead of us. He died in our place, as our substitute, paying the penalty of our sins. He atoned for our sins and allow us to enter into a right relationship with a holy God.
Second, why did darkness fall for three hours? Mark does not tell us why. But, darkness in the Bible can portray judgment. God imposed darkness on the Egyptians as the ninth plague. (Exodus 10:21) After that came the 10th plague, the Death of the Firstborn.
In Amos 8:9, speaking of a day of judgment on Israel, God said:
“And on that day”, declares the Lord God,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight”
There are those who assert that this was not a supernatural event, but an eclipse that coincidentally happened while Jesus was on the cross. However, Passover is celebrated during the full moon. A solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon.
Also on the cross, Jesus disarmed the spiritual forces of evil and triumphed over them. (Colossians 2:15) They can no longer accuse us or defeat us. We can resist the devil and have him flee from us. (James 4:7)
Finally, Jesus abolished the wall between Jew and Gentile. He broke down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility and made one new man in place of two. (Ephesians 2:14-16)
Third, why did Jesus say the Father had forsaken him? Jesus felt the full measure of God’s wrath. He cried out to God that he was forsaken. He used he words of Psalm 22:1.
He was temporarily forsaken because our sin and God’s wrath was upon him, separating him from fellowship with the Father just as the sin of men and women separate them from God. In Isaiah 59:2, God told Israel that their sins made a separation between them and god and had hidden his face from them. Habakkuk 1:13 describes God as one with pure eyes who cannot look upon evil and wrong.
Why Was The Curtain Torn In Two?
The curtain was the divider between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies). Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place. He could only enter on the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16) (Hebrews 9:6) The Most Holy Place was where the presence of God dwelled at the Mercy Seat. There the High Priest would offer the sacrifices that atoned for the sin of Israel for the past year.
The tearing of the curtain from top to bottom meant it was the work of God, not of man. It signified that the way into the presence of God was not limited to the High Priest, but now open to all who are in Christ. He has made the final and perfect sacrifice. And he is now our permanent High Priest, interceding for us continually. (Hebrews 7:25)
“Look at the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can.I believe that holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary. I believe you cannot look much at the cross without feeling your will sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual. As the sun gazed upon makes everything else look dark and dim, so does the cross darken the false splendor of this world. As the taste of honey makes all other things seem to have no taste at all, so does the cross seen by faith take all the sweetness out of the pleasures of the world. Keep on, everyday, looking firmly at the cross of Christ.” Looking Firmly at the Cross of Christ by J.C. Ryle