The Cries of Christ From the Cross
7. Born to Die
Luke 23: 44 - 46
Do you ever feel like there’s a brick wall between you and God? Does He seem far away and distant? As you read through the OT, you can’t help but recognize that God is holy, majestic, and separated from His people. There’s a definite doctrine of divine distance. Close contact with the Holy God of the universe was formal, and somewhat limited. When God spoke to Moses, He told him in Exodus 19:21: “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish.”
The “Most Holy Place” was off-limits to everyone, except the High Priest. There was a thick curtain here, which was also called the “shielding curtain” because it was designed to keep people away. The High Priest could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement to make sacrifice for the sins of the people. This was a scary thing for the priest because this was where God dwelt. It was a holy place. A rope was tied around his ankle just in case he died while he was in there so someone could pull him out.
The curtain that separated all the people and the priests from going into the presence of God was blue, purple, and scarlet and was made out of yarn and fine linen. It was 20m long, 10m high and was about 5cms thick. This was a piece of lasting tapestry that was designed to withstand all strains, tears, and rips.
As we wrap up our series by focusing on the final cry from the cross, I want to make sure we put our text in context by reading the 2 verses that come before it in Luke 23: 44, 45: “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
These verses remind us that this was no ordinary death. The sun in the sky was snuffed out for 3 hours while the Son of God became our sin bearer. When Jesus died, this indestructible curtain, that separated people from God, was torn in two - from top to bottom. Now, instead of just one person having access to the Almighty once a year, the way to God stands wide open to everyone, on every day of the year – 24/7/365.
The result is that we now have unlimited access to God. Tetelstai! Everything has been paid in full - we are free and forgiven, and have been declared righteous. Friends, all this is possible only through the death of Christ!
Can you imagine what must have been going through the minds of the priests? It had been dark for 3 hours. Now the sun is bright again. They weren’t supposed to even look at the Holy of Holies and now it was right in front of them. Did they run out? Did they cover their eyes? Did they drop to their knees and wait to be consumed by God’s righteous wrath?
Because of what Jesus did for us, Hebrews 10: 19 - 22 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
This curtain was designed to prevent access to God. Because it was torn in two, the veil of secrecy has been lifted and God’s glory is now manifested to everyone who puts faith in Jesus. In addition, the old order has ended. The curtain was not just opened, but ripped in two, indicating its total destruction. The Temple and the sacrificial system are no longer needed.
Luke 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.”
1. Jesus was Faithful to the Finish.
After enduring the physical trauma, the emotional ridicule and the spiritual isolation of becoming our sin sacrifice, Jesus was able to cry out with a strong voice. Jesus is not dying as a victim but is in total control of everything - someone dying of asphyxiation would not be able to cry out in a loud voice.
Jesus wanted to make sure that his final words were amplified and broadcast widely and so He shouted out loudly. This same word is used to refer to the worship volume of the thousands upon thousands of angels who are worshipping around the throne of the Lamb: Revelation 5: 12 “In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’”
2. Jesus Loved and Lived Scripture.
This closing cry is a quotation from Psalm 31:5: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” He literally died with the Bible in His mouth. As we’ve seen during this series, Jesus fulfilled Scripture throughout his life and is now doing so in His death. He quoted Scripture against Satan in the desert, He loved Scripture, He lived Scripture, He fulfilled Scripture, and in His dying breath, His mind and mouth were filled with the Word of God. Shouldn’t we do the same?
The phrase that Jesus uttered was a common bedtime prayer taught to every Jewish child. It would be similar to one of our childhood prayers, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Every night a child went to bed in Israel, they would kneel and say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Jesus not only dies with Scripture in his mouth but with a child’s prayer on His lips.
This passage from Psalm 31 was often recited at the evening offering in the Temple. Here’s the picture. As the priests were preparing to sacrifice lambs at around 3pm, people were speaking this section of Scripture. Jesus, the Lamb of God, who had taken our sins with Him to the Cross and was one breath away from making the final payment, shouted loud enough for everyone to hear, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
3. Jesus Surrendered Himself to the Safety of the Father.
Jesus voluntarily gives Himself to the Father. Every word of this verse is important.
a. Father. While Jesus quotes Psalm 31, He adds something - the term of endearment and relationship, “Father.” This shows the bond of love that He has with the One who sent Him. Jesus begins his cries from the cross with a prayer to his Father as He pleads with Him to forgive the sins of those who have crucified Him. His final cry is likewise directed to the Father.
His relationship with the Father has existed from all eternity. Now that His work on earth is finishing, He can’t wait to return home.
Jesus loved to use the word, “Father.” His first recorded sentence - Luke 2: 49: “Didn't you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” In his first formal teaching time on the Sermon on the Mount, He speaks of His Father 17 times. In his final discourse found in John 14-16, Jesus lovingly uses the word “Father” 45 times! And with his final breath, He once again shouts out to His Father.
b. Into your hands. Just as the 6th day of creation was followed by a day of rest, so too the Savior’s 6th utterance, “It is finished” is followed by shout 7 as He puts Himself in a place of rest in the Father’s hands.
c. I commit. Means to place something with someone for protection. It was used when depositing valuables into a safe place. At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul used this word when he said in 2 Timothy 1: 12: “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” When He commits Himself to the Father, Jesus is entrusting Himself into the Father’s hands, never again to be at the mercy of the hands of wicked men.
d. My spirit. Now that His physical life is over, Jesus is committing His spirit to the Father for safekeeping. This is a good reminder for us that our bodies were never designed to last forever. We’re all wearing out and running down. When our time here on earth is over, our bodies go into the grave, but our spirit will live forever. Jesus teaches us that death is the door by which we are admitted into the presence of the King.
Upon death, we should not say, “He departed.” Instead, we should say, “He arrived.”
Concluding Questions v. 46b
If you want to live…and die like Jesus did, then make sure you can answer these questions.