It's almost time for Jesus to surrender His spirit. At this point, He has hung on the cross for almost six hours. The frailty of His human flesh is completely exhausted. The nerve endings in His feet and wrists would be burning as if they were on fire, radiating unimaginable pain throughout His whole body. He's been slowly suffocating. But it's almost over...
"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
– Matthew 27:45-49 (NIV) –
Elijah never came to save Jesus on this day. He couldn't. Even God, His Father, had to look away. The scene would have been horrific. Jesus, horrifically beaten and physically dying...about to give up His very life for those who had falsely charged and convicted Him. It has been said that love held Him on the cross, and I would agree; however, let us never forget that we mercilessly nailed Him there, as well. Let us never forget the great pains than humanity carried out to be assured that this innocent Savior was exposed to torturous punishment and inevitable death. He was draped upon a cross of our sin, and on that day, and on that cross, He became our sin.
"With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last."
– Mark 15:37 (NIV) –
And so, around 3:00 PM, this terrible injustice had been carried through to completion. Jesus Christ was dead.
"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open."
– Matthew 27:51-52a (NIV) –
The earth itself responded violently as the innocent Lamb of God breathed His last. Rocks shattered, graves opened, and a Roman centurion had a moment of clarity...he understood the full scope of the atrocity that he had just participated in. He knew, at the point of Christ's death, that they had just killed the Son of God.
The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom...exposing the most holy place on earth. It was done.
"As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that
it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.
He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
– Matthew 27:57-60 (NIV) –
So, mankind carried out the actions it thought necessary to rid themselves of Jesus. He was convicted, beaten and killed, and now He was buried...never to be heard from again.
Or, so they thought..
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!