Were you there—when they crucified my Lord?
15. Sovereign satisfied
Luke 23:44-46 (NIV)
Also—Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, John 19:28-37, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, 1 Peter 2:21-25, 3:18
Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Matthew 27:45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Mark 15:33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
John 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Isaiah 52:13 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—15 so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
Recap on those witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion we have met
In Part 1 of this book, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’, on fourteen previous occasions we have ‘met’ different people and groups who were at or around the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ when He died there for their and our sins. We have focused on Pilate, Barabbas, the mob, Simon of Cyrene, the women, the crucified criminal who trusted Jesus, the religious rulers, the soldiers, the crucified criminal who did not turn to Jesus, the Centurion, the crowd, the disciples, Joseph of Arimathea, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The cross as God the Father sees it
Now we look at the cross as the Bible says God the Father sees it. Well, how does our almighty Sovereign Lord view the cross? We can imagine how a God of love felt when His beloved Son willingly died in the place of guilty sinners. But now we will look at the gospel accounts in Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-38, John 19:28-37 to see how God intervened at the cross, and then see what the Bible says about it.
The big question is, ‘Is God satisfied with the sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary’s cross to save sinners, like us, from sin’s penalty in Hell, sin’s power in life, and sin’s presence in Heaven? We also see how God inspired the prophet Isaiah to write six hundred years before crucifixion came to Israel (via occupation by the Romans, for whom crucifixion was their standard method of execution) and how that all worked out in practice We will also see in 1 Peter 2:21-25 and 3:18 how Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, applies in his first letter (1 Peter) that prophecy of Jesus’ death on the cross.
In Luke 23:44-46 we learn that the sun is blotted out of the whole land from 9.00 am (‘the sixth hour’) to 12 Noon (‘the ninth hour’)? Question One: Who did that?
Then, after the ‘sun stopped shining’, as Jesus dies, the Temple curtain is torn in two from top to bottom. The ‘curtain’ (or ‘veil’) is multi-layered and multi-coloured, each colour having significance, and as thick as a man’s fist. The fact it is torn from the top (God’s position) to the bottom (man’s position) signifies that the way into the Temple’s holiest place, the ‘Holy of Holies’, is now open to everyone. That tearing comes after Jesus commits His spirit to His Father and then breathes His last. Question Two: ‘Who arranged that timing and tore the curtain from the top to the bottom to give us access to God?’
Matthew 27:45-54 and Mark 15:33-38 confirm Luke’s account. Matthew adds that when Jesus died other remarkable, miraculous events occurred. ‘The earth shook and the rocks split’. Question Three: Who did that?
Then when ‘The tombs broke open’, dead ‘holy people’ are ‘raised to life’ and appear to people in Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection. Question Four: Who made that happen?
These things are not done in secret or in a quiet corner. They are witnessed by a large and mixed crowd. Some are Christian believers. Others have no belief in Christ. The Roman centurion and his guarding soldiers are terrified. They conclude that Jesus is ‘a righteous man’. (Luke 23:47). In both Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39 the same centurion also recognises Jesus as ‘the Son of God’. Jesus is both God in the flesh and the only ever sinlessly perfect man. He is the only one the world has ever known to meet either of those descriptions. He is both at the same time. Question Five: Who revealed those important twin truths about Jesus’ simultaneous deity and humanity to previously pagan Romans
The only possible answer to all those five questions is ‘God’.
God is telling the watching world that Jesus’ death is special
In effect, God is telling the watching world, at a time when Jerusalem is packed with people who witness what happens, that there is something very special indeed about the death of Jesus on that cruel Roman cross. God obviously knows all about it and wants Christ’s death on the cross to be marked and never to be forgotten. We can safely deduce that these well-known miraculous acts we just shared reveal that God is fully satisfied with the work accomplished on the cross by Jesus. Remember that Jesus is God the Son. He is one with God the Father and with God the Holy Spirit in the Trinity of Three Persons-in-One-God and One-God-in-Three-Persons.
Eternity is a simple concept for our eternal God!
We should expect God to be fully involved in this unique way. Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ Long before our Immanuel, or ‘God with us’, became the virgin Mary’s baby at Bethlehem after the Holy Spirit came upon her, He is regarded as ‘slain from the foundation of the world.’
The concept of eternity is not an easy one to grasp with our mere earthly human minds, even though we are informed by God’s infallible truth in the Bible. But it is clearly always in God’s mind, for whom eternity is a simple concept. It is also in His eternal plan that Jesus will become that sacrificial lamb of whom John the Baptist said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’. At the baptism of Jesus, as God the Holy Spirit came ‘as a dove’ and remained on Jesus, God the Father said to John, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’ So ,the death of Christ on the cross is not an afterthought or the best God can make of a bad situation. It is God’s plan from eternity to save all those who will trust in, and therefore be saved by, personal faith in Christ.
How it works out in practice
How does it work out in practice, in the light of the amazing prophecy in Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12? (Please read that carefully in full.) The parts of Isaiah 53: 4 to 6, underlined below, show what God the Father is expecting Jesus to do when, as Isaiah 53:3 says, ‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering’, as He hangs nailed to that cross:
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
1 Peter 2:24 speaks of Jesus and shows what Isaiah’s prophecy means: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. As Jesus bears our sins in His body on the cross (referred to here as the ‘tree’) it is then that He is ‘stricken by God, smitten by Him, …pierced for our iniquities’, and that He bears the ‘punishment that brought us peace… upon Him’ We are ‘healed’ not of physical ailments (or else a Christian going to the cross for forgiveness could never be ill again, which is just not so) but we are ‘healed forever’ of effects of the dread and deadly disease of our sin that is punished in Christ on that cross. Had that not been the case, we would be in Hell paying eternally for our own sins. God’s cure, His spiritual healing, brings us His total forgiveness, peace with Him, and His peace in our hearts. This is all because ‘the LORD [God] has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all’, when on the cross our Sovereign (the Lord Jesus Christ), becomes our Substitute, our Sin-bearer, and our Saviour. To be saved eternally now, and escape Hell to gain Heaven, you must repent of your sins, trust fully that you have forgiveness and eternal life only because Jesus died on the cross in your place taking your punishment, and receive Him in your heart as your risen and ever- living Saviour and Lord. 1 Peter 3:18 summarises the result of all this very well: ‘Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.’
Jesus fulfils the Father’s will for Him perfectly. As a sinless and spotlessly perfect sacrifice He takes the punishment as judgment for our sins that we deserve. That must satisfy the Father. 1 John 1:7 says, ‘the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin’. 1 John 1:9 tells us how: ‘If we confess our sins, [directly to Him through Jesus], He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ In order to do that, God shows us that He is more than satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice of on the cross to save us, by marking it with the miraculous happenings we have already seen in this chapter.
An even more amazing proof that God accepts Jesus’ work on the cross
There is another even more amazing, miraculous, and extremely well-attested event that shows that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are well satisfied with God the Son’s sacrifice of Himself to save us. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. We will consider this in Part 2 of this book, under the title ‘Were you there when He rose up from the grave?’
But briefly, for now, the Bible says that God raised Jesus from the dead in His miraculous resurrection. He would not have done that if Christ’s sacrifice had been insufficient, or if Jesus had sinned or failed. The resurrection tells us that the death of Christ for our sins is the most valuable and only currency that can ever be accepted in Heaven. We will be there, only because He died for sinners, with our once crucified and slain but now resurrected and ever-living Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ!
The evidence is all there—you need no more!
All these miraculous but well-attested facts, even apart from the key evidence of the resurrection of Jesus from that secured tomb, tell us that God the Father accepts the sacrifice of the Saviour, Jesus, in payment as the penalty for our sins . We should gratefully and humbly accept with amazement that He did it for us—even for me—and repent and trust Him now, if we have not yet done so. If we have trusted Him, we need to share this life-changing and eternity-changing message of the cross with others and, by God’s grace and strength, follow Jesus as our Lord every day.