Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” When He had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God, and said, “Surely, this was a righteous man.” Luke 23: 46
We all see things from different perspectives, don’t we? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, writers of the four Gospels, were all present at the crucifixion of Christ and all four men recorded their stories in their own way. Luke gives these words in this verse as Jesus’s last.
How fitting that He should call out to His Father as He took His last breath. In doing so, He is expressing to Him that He has now done on the cross what God had entrusted Him to do for all mankind. And even more, He is expressing His confidence that He will soon return to His heavenly home with Him.
Luke recorded other important events that surrounded the death of Christ. He wrote that the sun stopped shining, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. He also recorded that after a Roman centurion saw Jesus on the cross and heard His words, He said, “Surely He must have been a righteous man.”
Mark went further by saying that the centurion said, “He must be the Son of God.” We see that when many of the people who had gathered to witness what had taken place, they “beat their breasts and went away.”
Some women watched from a distance, such as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and others. What sadness, grief, and agony they must have felt to watch the Lord they loved and trusted, suffer and die.
It is recorded that another bystander, a man named Joseph, “a good and upright man who had not consented to their decision and action,” went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. He took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one yet had been laid.
The women followed him to the tomb and saw where his body was laid. Then they went home to prepare burial spices and perfumes which they would later use on Jesus’s body. (They would take these to His tomb on Sunday morning, but would find that He was no longer there. This day was their Sabbath and a day of mourning and rest for them.)
How can we even imagine what it would have been like to witness the Savior of the world being crucified? We can surely understand why as Luke wrote, that “many walked away beating their chests” in grief, anger, and disbelief.
Did some begin to believe in this Savior, such as the Roman centurion? And how did those feel who had brought this death sentence upon Jesus, when they knew He had done no grave wrongs and was innocent of all crimes?
On God’s calendar, this was the day after Jesus was crucified on the cross. What a sad day for those who loved and trusted in Him – His family, close disciples, and all followers. Did they feel as if all their hope was gone with the loss of their Savior, and that life would just continue as it had before He came? Or were they filled with even more belief that all the things Jesus had told them had come true? Were they filled with despair, or with an even deeper commitment to serve Him and carry on His Gospel? What a confusing, sad day for them. How they must have prayed and wept.
But we know the story did not end here. A glorious resurrection was to come. Life on this earth would cease to be the same from that moment on. Life would never be the same for all believers. Soon there would be new hope for a life filled with His love and presence and for eternal life to come.
This Easter season may we too be reminded that our lives are changed because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Our lives are redeemed, forever free from the bondage of sin and death. We can have the assurance that He lives, and that He lives in us.
Our most gracious and loving God, what a sad day for the world when your Son was crucified on the cross for our sins. But what a glorious day to come when He was resurrected to life, and we were given new life in Him. May we always be grateful for His grace and give you all honor, glory, and praise. Amen