Luke – Doors Wide Open
What does it feel like when you know you have been fooled? We don’t like this feeling at all, do we? We feel humiliated for falling for it and saddened by the waste of energy. How do we feel when we have been misled in our thinking, joined a club or organization and put gave all of ourselves to this organization only to find out that it had no future with no hope. Again, we feel our time was wasted following investments in our lives that were of no benefit. It is especially sad when it hurts people in ways that cause financially ruin, emotional scars or loss of family.
So how do the people in the crowd who have been duped by the powerful feel when they realize they traded perfect and best for evil and worst?
The crowd, fooled by the religious elite and prodded to yell, “Crucify Him”, got exactly what they wanted. They watched Jesus Christ, Son of God, crucified on a cross. They stood and mocked for awhile until God intervened with darkness in the early afternoon. Who witnessed the noise and action of the extremely heavy curtain that divided the Holy of hollies from the common man torn right down the middle? Was there a wondering? What there a change of heart?
A Roman officer who oversaw the execution saw what had happened and realizes he has helped to execute an innocent man.
“And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.
Luke 23, New Living Translation
The Death of Jesus
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. 49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
The Burial of Jesus
50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.
THINK ABOUT IT…FACTS TO KNOW
Public executions drew crowds of spectators, and one involving Jesus would especially attract attention. Add to this the fact that Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims, and it is not difficult to believe that a “great multitude” was following the condemned man to Calvary.
In that crowd was a group of women who openly wept and lamented as they sympathized with Jesus and contemplated the terrible spiritual condition of their nation. It has been pointed out that, as far as the gospel records are concerned, no woman was ever an enemy of Jesus. Nor was Jesus ever the enemy of womankind. His example, His teachings, and most of all, His redemption have done much to dignify and elevate women. The news of His birth was shared with a Jewish maiden, His death was witnessed by grieving women, and the good news of His resurrection was announced first to a woman who had been demon-possessed.
We must keep in mind that what our Lord accomplished on the cross was an eternal transaction that involved Him and the Father. He did not die as a martyr who had failed in a lost cause. Nor was He only an example for people to follow. Isaiah 53 makes it clear that Jesus did not die for His own sins, because He had none; He died for our sins. He made His soul an offering for sin (Isa. 53:4–6, 10–12).
The three hours of darkness was a miracle. It was not an eclipse, because that would have been impossible during the Passover season when there is a full moon. It was a God-sent darkness that shrouded the cross as the Son of God was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). It was as though all nature was sympathizing with the Creator as He suffered and died. When Israel was in Egypt, three days of darkness preceded the first Passover (Ex. 10:21ff.). When Jesus was on the cross, three hours of darkness preceded the death of God’s Lamb for the sins of the world (John 1:29).
Our Lord cried with a loud voice, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), a declaration of victory. He had finished the work the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4). The work of redemption was completed, the types and prophecies were fulfilled (Heb. 9:24ff.), and the Savior could now rest. He then addressed His Father in the final statement from the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Ps. 31:5). This was actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children, and it tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly (John 10:17–18), and victoriously. Those who know Jesus as their Savior may die with the same confidence and assurance (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23).
When our Lord released His spirit, the veil of the temple was torn in two “from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38). This miracle announced to the priests and people that the way into God’s presence was open for all who would come to Him by faith through Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:1—10:25). No more do sinners need earthly temples, altars, sacrifices, or priests, for all had now been fulfilled in the finished work of the Son of God.
Luke recorded three responses to the events of the last moments of Christ’s death. The centurion who was in charge of the execution testified, “Certainly this was a righteous [innocent] man, the Son of God” (Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47). He was greatly impressed by the darkness, the earthquake (Matt. 27:54), and certainly the way Jesus suffered and died. He must have been shocked when Jesus shouted and then instantly died, for victims of crucifixion often lingered for days and did not have the strength to speak.
The people who came to “see the spectacle” began to drift away one by one, some of them beating their breasts as they felt their guilt (Luke 18:13). Were these people believers? Probably not. They were spectators who were attracted to the execution, but certainly they saw and heard enough to convict them of their own sins.
Finally, our Lord’s friends were there, including the women who followed Jesus (Luke 8:1–3; 24:22). It is significant that the women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb on Easter morning.
When Jesus died, Joseph immediately went to Pilate for permission to have the body, and Nicodemus stayed at Calvary to keep watch. They tenderly took Jesus from the cross, quickly carried Him to the garden, washed the body, and wrapped it with the spices. It was a temporary burial; they would return after the Sabbath to do the job properly. When they laid Jesus into the new tomb, they fulfilled Isaiah 53:9, and they kept the Romans from throwing His body on the garbage dump outside the city. Condemned criminals lost the right to proper burial, but God saw to it that His Son’s body was buried with dignity and love.
It was important that the body be buried properly, for God would raise Jesus from the dead. If there were any doubt about His death or burial, that could affect the message and the ministry of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1–8).
When after six days God finished the work of the “old creation,” He rested (Gen. 2:1–3). After six hours, our Lord finished the work of the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), and He rested on the Sabbath in Joseph’s tomb.
But that was not the end of the story.
He would rise again!
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
From the beginning to time and creation you had a plan to save us and for that we are eternally grateful! Thank you for all You have done, are doing and will do. Thank you for for saving my soul and making me whole. Thank you for renewing my spirit, cleansing my heart, making me new and restoring the brokenness with all of you in all of me. Keep us focused on You and Your ways. Guide every thought and behavior today by the power of Your Holy Spirit living in us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen