Witnesses to the Crucifixion

The cross and resurrection of Jesus are the most momentous events in the history of the world. The various reactions to Jesus’ crucifixion are significant for understanding God’s purposes through his Son.

Heaven and Earth Respond

For three of the six hours that Jesus spent on the cross, the heavens were darkened. As I wrote yesterday, I believe this was a sacred time when Jesus suffered for every sin that has ever been committed.

Luke 23.44-45 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,

While the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

The curtain of the Temple divided the Most Holy Place from the other rooms in the Temple. The high priest entered the Most Holy Place one time a year. It was at that moment that the presence of God was most obvious to humans.

Rudy Ross has an excellent explanation of the Most Holy Place and the tearing of the curtain in today’s YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel.

Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the way for humans to have a relationship with God that is real and personal.

Jesus revealed the full meaning of access to God with these words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

“You are my friends if you do what I command you.

“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends” (John 15.13-15).

There is no longer a curtain that separates humans from God, where only one man entered once a year. Because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice, we can live in a friendship relationship with God on a daily basis.

Jesus and the Father

From all eternity, the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – were intimately connected.

In the mystery of God’s plan, there was a moment on the cross when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46). It is possible that this was the only time in all of eternity when members of the Trinity felt separated.

Nevertheless, Jesus was committed to the Father during every second of his crucifixion. When it came time to die, he surrendered his spirit to the Father.

Luke 23.46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

His prayer was based on Psalm 31. The psalm contains praise for deliverance from enemies.

On the cross, Jesus was not delivered from his enemies, but he was fully committed to the Father in the face of the cross.

People Respond

The Gospel of Luke has a special interest in outsiders, outcasts, and marginalized persons. These persons responded to Jesus in a way that we have come to expect.

Luke 23.47-49When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.”

And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts.

But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The Romans official, who possibly oversaw the execution detail, declared Jesus’ innocence.

Luke 7 recalls another centurion, who expressed great faith in Jesus’ ability to heal his servant. He understood authority and trusted Jesus to use his authority to heal.

The centurion was close enough to hear Jesus pray, tell the thief that he would join him in paradise, and watch his actions during the torture of the cross. His experience with other criminals allowed him to authenticate Jesus’ innocence.

The crowds were “on the bubble,” as we say today. At times, they followed Jesus enthusiastically. It appears that they were swayed by the religious authorities to call for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Having witnessed the events of the cross, they exhibited the kind of repentance that is needed for salvation.

The women had followed Jesus from the early days of his ministry to also witness the agonizing event of the cross. It is likely that some of his close disciples were also present.

All of Jesus’ followers were at risk while in Jerusalem. The Romans made a practice of crucifying all rebels and their followers.

A Sanhedrin Official

Not all of the Jewish officials opposed Jesus. At great risk to himself, Joseph asked Pilate to be able to give Jesus a proper burial.

Luke 23.50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council,

Had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.

This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid.

Joseph’s willingness to identify with Jesus was a bold choice, based on how the Romans treated rebels and their followers.

While I was praying about this passage, I wondered how Joseph pulled the nails from Jesus’ hands and feet.

I am sure he was as tender as possible, given his love for Jesus. Still, he had to figure out how to pull nails without further injury to Jesus’ body.

The Women from Galilee

Rudy Ross explains the significance of the day of Preparation in today’s YouTube video.

We meet the women who came with Jesus from Galilee in Luke 8. They were loyal followers of Jesus, “who provided for them [the ministry] out of their resources” (Luke 8.3).

Once again, they are present to provide for their Lord with their best.

Luke 23.54-56It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.

Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Around the Cross Today

Our appreciation for God’s love deepens as we study the events of the crucifixion. I hope that you will take time to meditate on what our loving Lord did for us.

Visualize the events and express to God your gratitude for his amazing gift of love.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross adds his Jewish heritage, years of Bible study, and love for Jesus to our discussion on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Please take 11 minutes today and listen.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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