While hanging on the cross, fully naked, Jesus was mocked by people heading into the city — for the site of the crucifixion was beside a main road leading into Jerusalem. The chief priests, scribes, the Roman soldiers, His fellow convicts, and people passing by — they all mocked Him. And one thing they kept saying was, Come down off the cross! You saved others. Can you not save yourself? Prove that you’re the Messiah! We have to wonder if this was Satan’s last attack on Jesus, tempting Him to use His Messianic power to save Himself.
Luke tells us that darkness covered the entire land for three full hours from noon to 3pm. These hours of darkness represented the cup that Jesus had prayed would pass from Him. But in the end He prayed, Not my will, but yours be done. Jesus willfully chose to enter into our suffering.
He cried out, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? He quotes from Psalm 22, a lament Psalm from David who cries out in a moment of anguish. And this experience must have been unlike anything anyone else has ever experienced, for Jesus absorbed into Himself the full weight of our sin. And yet, as with Psalm 22, there is a faithfulness embedded in this cry. Even claiming forsakenness can be done faithfully when one’s cry is directed heavenward toward God the Father. And this is what Jesus does. Even in His last moments, with His life ebbing away, He shows us the way of faithfulness.
Jesus said, It is finished. The language carries the meaning of “paid in full.” Last week we noted that everything about the ministry of Jesus reflects the Kingdom of God. So how does His death on the cross reflect the Kingdom? His death is an act of self-giving sacrificial love. And this kind of love is the hallmark of the Kingdom of God.
The New Testament makes it clear that the death of Jesus corresponds to the death of the Passover Lamb. There are two parts to this: the shedding of the blood and the application of the blood. If the Jewish people had merely shed the blood of the lamb, they would not have been delivered from Egyptian bondage. This work was effected through the application of the blood. The Jewish people were commanded to apply the blood on the doorposts as an act of faith. And in this trusting action, they experienced salvation.
Jesus died a similar death — the death of the Lamb of God. With the shedding of His blood, He has made salvation possible. This is why He said It is finished. But just as with the lamb in Egypt, the mere shedding of blood is only one part. There must also be the application of the blood. Only those who personally apply the blood will receive the salvation it secures. The way the blood is applied is through an act of faith — through putting one’s trust in Jesus as the Messiah and the Savior. It comes through believing that He died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again. This act of faith culminates in baptism — where we bodily identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as we are immersed into His story.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lord who makes all things new, he who has ears, let him hear.