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Luke 23:44–46

“Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (v. 46).

Death by crucifixion was an excruciatingly horrible way to die. Those who were crucified with nails in the manner that Jesus was (some victims were tied to the cross with rope) could expect the process to last many hours. The crucified person suffered from exposure to the elements and found it very difficult to breathe, so the individual would slowly suffocate. We should not downplay the physical torments that Jesus suffered on the cross, since they were part of the penalty that He paid for our sin. Jesus’ suffering was more than physical, however; otherwise, His death would have been no different from the death of any of the many other people who have been crucified in history. He suffered more than just physically, for He was bearing the wrath of God as the propitiation for our sins (Rom. 3:21–26). We will consider the nature of the atonement in the next few days; today, we are looking at the historical record of Jesus’ death found in Luke 23:44–46.

Although the witnesses to our Lord’s crucifixion could not see all that was going on behind the scenes spiritually as Jesus hung on the cross, God gave some physical and natural phenomena that would have told any observant person that something momentous was happening. First, there was an extended period of darkness when “the sun’s light failed” (vv. 44–45). The Old Testament associates darkness with the day of the Lord, that time of divine judgment on evil and salvation of God’s people (e.g., Joel 2:2, 31). Jesus’ death and the events associated with it such as Pentecost (see Acts 2:1–36) marked the beginning of the day of the Lord, which we now know is an extended period between the first and second comings of Christ. God judged the sin of His people on the cross. He has been redeeming people from every nation and making them His own since then. This will all be consummated when Jesus returns to bring the new heaven and earth.

When Jesus died, the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:45; see Mark 15:38). The text does not specify whether this was the curtain that allowed only the high priest to go into the Most Holy Place or the one that allowed only the priests to go into the Holy Place. Either way, the tearing of the curtain demonstrated that God’s people could from that point on enter the presence of God, a domain reserved previously for the old covenant priests. Dr. R.C. Sproul comments, “For the first time since the fall we could go home without shame and without fear to the presence of God.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Jesus died in faith, committing His human spirit to our heavenly Father, believing that He would finally be rescued from death (Luke 23:46). Indeed, Jesus was rescued three days later in His resurrection. Those of us who die in faith, entrusting ourselves to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, will live on past the grave, and we will one day be resurrected when Jesus returns to bring the new heaven and earth.

For further study
  • Exodus 26:31–37
  • 2 Chronicles 3
  • Psalm 31:5
  • Matthew 27:45–53
The bible in a year
  • Ezekiel 43–44
  • 2 Peter 2

The Faith of a Criminal

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