Luke 23 contains eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was a terrible and blessed moment in time. Today, let’s take a second and look at the largest and most pervasive truth in human history and a major effect that truth has in our lives.
Salvation can be ours because Jesus took the wrath for sin (vv 44–49)
As the wrath of God was now poured out on Jesus, all of creation reacted. The sun was blocked at high noon for three hours. The curtain to the Most Holy Place was torn, signifying that in Christ, we all have access to God’s presence. And Jesus died, giving up His spirit into the sovereign hands of the Father.
Three miracles happened in these moments.
- Darkness overcame the physical world as a picture of what was happening spiritually
- The veil to the Most Holy Place was torn. The curtain in the temple was a barrier to all sinful humanity that screamed, no further! But Jesus now says, come through me.
These are the moments that sin and death lost their sting because Jesus took it all. Jesus’ cup was poured full with God’s wrath for sin and not one drop was spilt. The significance of this act of Jesus cannot be overstated: We can know salvation and a freedom from sin and, what’s more, an eternal existence with the very God of the universe and Savior of our souls. We, who are enemies of God, can become loved and adopted children of the Most High God because Jesus took the wrath for sinners like you and me.
One theologian comments that Jesus’ promise to the criminal, and by extension us, is redundant. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” There is no paradise except that Jesus will be there also. What makes eternity worth it is that Jesus is there with us!
- The third miracle happened as Jesus breathed his last breath: a centurion became one of the first Gentiles to believe. Here in Luke, the centurion claims the innocence of Christ, but Matthew and Mark record him as also proclaiming him as the Son of God.
How amazing is the love of God that it would reach into one of the leaders who instructed and participated in the very crucifixion of Jesus and save him!
There is no one too far into blatant sin or subtle self-righteousness than God cannot save. Jesus willingly gave up His life for this.
“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).
Philip Ryken comments on this cry of Jesus:
“He was surrendering his body to death by the free exercise of His own will.”
It’s a powerful reminder of Jesus’ earlier words in John 10:17-18
“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:17–18).
Jesus willingly gave up His life for this. So too must we willingly give up ours.
How are you holding on to your life? Has God called you or gifted you in some way that you aren’t being faithful in joyful obedience? Are you pouring out your life like He poured out His? Are you seeking after the lost in your life like Jesus sought after you?
Maybe you are here and unable to identify with Jesus as Lord of your life. Maybe this morning, you’ve been confronted with the truth of Christ’s sacrifice and realize that you’ve never believed. Follow in the steps of the centurion, repent as you look at the Savior on the cross!
We are told that the cross had some kind of effect on everyone. Some walked away not receiving a spectacle like they had hoped, but sorrowful. His followers stood at a distance mourning. Some were saved.
What effect does the cross have on you today? Is your live known as one of joyful obedience and daily repentance? Do you seek after the Word of God to know and follow the will of God?
An application or effect flowing from the gruesome death of Christ is that of thankfulness.
If we are a people, no let’s make this personal, if you or I are not characteristically known as a person filled with thanks, then we have taken our eyes off of our cross-bearing Jesus. This passage had a profound effect on a young girl named Corrie ten Boom, while she and her sister were enduring the persecutions of a Nazi concentration camp.
She recalled this in her book The Hiding Place:
I had read a thousand times the story of Jesus’ arrest—how soldiers had slapped Him, laughed at Him, flogged Him. Now such happenings had faces and voices.
Fridays—the recurrent humiliation of medical inspection.… [We] had to maintain our erect, hands-at-sides position as we filed slowly past a phalanx of grinning guards. How there could have been any pleasure in the sight of these stick-thin legs and hunger-bloated stomachs I could not imagine.… Nor could I see the necessity for the complete undressing…
But it was one of these mornings while we were waiting, shivering in the corridor, that yet another page in the Bible leapt into life for me.
He hung naked on the cross.
I had not known—I had not thought.… The paintings, the carved crucifixes showed at the least a scrap of cloth. But this, I suddenly knew, was the respect and reverence of the artist. But oh—at the time itself, on that other Friday morning—there had been no reverence. No more than I saw in the faces around us now.
I leaned toward Betsie, ahead of me in line. Her shoulder blades stood out sharp and thin beneath her blue-mottled skin.
“Betsie, they took His clothes too.”Ahead of me I heard a little gasp. “Oh, Corrie. And I never thanked Him.”
Are we so deep in wealth and materialism that we have forgotten, on a visceral level, how much our Savior endured on our account? Remember His shame today. Remember His torture. Remember the crowds jeering at Him. Remember the weight of wrath bearing down on Him. And we must remember that our sin’s weight was on Him that day. And that He paid for all of it.
There is not one sin that you and I have or ever will commit for which Jesus has not paid the price. He loves His people. He was named Jesus because he came to save His people from their sins. And this is more than enough to give thanks no matter the earthly tragedy that we might be facing.
In the middle of your tears over the loss of a loved one, or the lostness of your child or spouse, or the trials of being a parent, or the difficulty of a current work circumstance, in the middle of these things, remember that you have reason for thanksgiving because though you may be walking through difficulty, Jesus has paved the way for you.
So give thanks to Him by remembering His sacrifice and praising God.
And if we are placing hope-filled eyes on Jesus in faith, we will daily turn from sin and follow this Savior, our King, in joyful obedience. And the rest that we have in Jesus will be far greater than the rest of Sabbath. We will rest forevermore with a risen Lord.