Crying for Eli

From the cross, Jesus cries, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It’s from Psalm 22, but the Jews say He’s calling for Elijah. Are they so dull they can no longer recognize Scripture?

More likely, they mean it in mockery. Our Old Testament ends with a promise of a new Elijah who brings “the great and terrible day of Yahweh” (Malachi 4:5). The Jews pretend that Jesus cries for Judgment Day and new creation. “Let’s see if Elijah comes,” they joke.

Does Elijah come? Is the cross Judgment Day and new creation, the “great and terrible day of the Lord”? You bet it is.

When Jesus dies, He hands over His Spirit, fulfilling the promise of the prophets. When He dies, the veil of the temple is torn, fulfilling the Jewish hope to enter God’s presence. When He dies, there’s an earthquake, a sign that God will shake until only permanent things stand.

Israel has been hoping for resurrection, and as soon as Jesus dies, graves open and dead saints appear in Jerusalem. Israel has been hoping for the conversion of the nations, and when Jesus dies a centurion confesses Jesus as the Son of God.

Everything the Jews have been hoping for begins to happen, or happens in symbol, at the cross. “Let’s see if Elijah will save Him,” the Jews say. “Let’s see if His death will bring in the end times.” It did. And it does.

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