Text: Luke 23:39-56
Event(s): Jesus dies on the cross; The sun is darkened; The veil is torn in two; Jesus is buried in Joseph’s tomb;
Luke 23:39-40 “the two criminals” The attitudes of these two criminals represents the two attitudes that lead to either condemnation or salvation. The first criminal joined the reviling voices of all those around and hurled blasphemies at Jesus. The second criminal repented and turned to Jesus instead, appealing to His mercy. His asking Jesus to “remember” him was a call for salvation.
Luke 23:43 “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” To put it as simply as possible, prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paradise was the place where the spirits of all those who believed in God went, awaiting their reunion with their bodies at the resurrection. Paradise is the same as “Abraham’s bosom” which we read about in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:22-26.
Luke 23:44 “there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.” Matthew’s Gospel also records the cry Jesus made, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Separation from the Father must have been the worst part of the Cross for Jesus who had never before experienced anything but intimate fellowship with His Father.
“The depths of the saying are too deep to be plumbed, but the least inadequate interpretations are those which find in it a sense of desolation in which Jesus felt the horror of sin so deeply that for a time the closeness of His communion with the Father was obscured.” -Vincent Taylor, Theologian, Gospel of Mark
Luke 23:45 “the sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was torn in two.“Matthew also records that upon Jesus’ death, there was a great earthquake and rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51).
The veil was a thick curtain which hung in the temple and that separated the holy place from the most holy place in the temple. This tearing of the veil was a supernatural act that symbolized the opening of access to God and the termination of the Mosaic system of worship. The fact that it was torn from top to bottom signified that God is the One who ripped the thick curtain. It was not torn from the bottom by men ripping it or because of the turbulent conditions from the earthquake, etc.
Luke 23:46 “cried out with a loud voice…He breathed His last.” Jesus voluntarily laid His life down; no one took it from Him. Some interpreters viewed the loud voice with which Jesus cried out as indicating that Jesus died not as much from physical exhaustion as from spiritual agony.*
I love what Wiersbe said, “As God rested after six days of work on the creation, so Jesus rested after six hours of work on the cross in which He made a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).”
Luke 23:50 “Joseph, a council member” Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin. He had become a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, as the Gospel of John records, because he feared the unbelieving Jews. Finally Joseph came out publicly, by courageously requesting Jesus’ “body” from Pilate. This no doubt alienated him from the rest of the Sanhedrin members.
The Gospel of John also records that Joseph was accompanied by Nicodemus. Remember him? He was the religious leader who had come to Jesus by night early on in His ministry. The one to whom Jesus said the words, “You must be born again” and the continuing dialogue which includes the now famous passage in John 3:16. Both of these men take on this visible position as disciples of Jesus, preparing His body for an honorable burial and defiling themselves in the process by handling a dead body, and thus would not be able to partake of Passover.
Today’s Takeaway: Where do we begin with all that was accomplished for us on the cross? The reverent silence of the moment causes me to quiet myself and just picture, and receive all that Jesus accomplished. As has been my goal throughout this study, I have tried to limit what or how much I say so as not to crowd the voice of God speaking to each of us as we read through these Gospels. Yet if there was one thing I would say my attention is drawn to today, it would be the issue of separation. Or rather, the removal of that which previously separated us from direct access to the Father. May we become more aware of the reality of this closeness.
Additional (optional) reading: Romans 8:31-39 (NLT) The parallel accounts of these events may be found in Matthew 27:45-66; Mark 15:33-47 and John 19:28-42
*Note taken from footnotes in The New Spirit Filled Life Bible