The Darkness, The Torn Curtain, The Roman Soldier: You Gotta Recognize! (Jesus’ Deity On Display For Us To See)

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 23:44-49 — There are three things that jump out at you from this passage that are observable. First, there was darkness for three hours during the middle of the day. Second, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was torn down the middle. Finally, there is the statement by the Roman officer that surely Jesus was a righteous man. All of it has to do with validation that Jesus Christ is no ordinary guy. He is indeed the Son of God and it is in Him that we are reconciled to God.

The first thing that we notice here is that there was darkness during the middle of the day during the last three hours that Jesus was alive. We don’t know if this was a solar eclipse or what. Passover was always held during the phase of the moon when it is full meaning that the full sphere is reflecting the light of the sun. So, when the moon is full, it is not in position to block out the light of the sun. It is not in the direct path between the sun and the earth. Thus, a solar eclipse in the natural order of things is unlikely. The only thing that you can conclude is that this was the Creator acting on His creation. I think that it is an expression of sorrow by the Creator. The Father is in sorrow over the death of The Son. We can relate to this, can’t we? There are things that we, as human parents, have to let our children go through because it is part of growing up. Sometimes these experiences are painful for the child. As parents, we often have to sit and watch these things occur and we cry for them as they go through painful experiences. The Father knows that what The Son had to go through was necessary but it does not take away any sorrow away from it. Necessity does not change the bond of the Trinity. However, this shows how much God loves us. His willingness to allow the Son to be given up on the cross for us is the ultimate act of love. You hear stories on the human level of father’s defending their families with their lives such that their families can escape danger. Here is that Fatherly love for us on display. Sacrificing His Son so that we may be reconciled to Him. There is no greater love than this. Yes, we see God’s sorrow on display in the disappearance of the light. This is validation to all that can witness this scene in person or through the centuries on these pages that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God. God validates Jesus right here. This is my Son. This is my Son. I will make the world stop! This is my Son in whom I am extremely pleased!

The second thing that we see and observe here is that on the other side of town from the site of the crucifixion at the Temple. Let us not miss the symbolism of this event. Remember, this curtain separated the Holy Place, the sanctuary of the Temple where the priests could worship, and the Most Holy Place, where the High Priest only could enter once per year alone to atone for the sins of the people. It was in the Most Holy Place that the Ark of the Covenant rested. It was here that the presence of God rested. The curtain closed off the Most Holy Place from view. What the curtain tearing shows us that Jesus is now our High Priest. There is no need for a human priest to intercess on our part. There is no need for the High Priest to go through some cleansing process to go into the presence of God for us. We through the perfection of Jesus and His loving sacrifice for us that we are made clean and we can go, ourselves, into the presence of God through Jesus Christ, the true and better High Priest. The curtain is no longer needed. The mission of Jesus has accomplished the culmination of the Temple. It is finished. The curtain is no longer necessary. We have direct access to God through Jesus Christ.

The final thing that you notice here is that the Roman soldier recognizes that Jesus is a righteous man. In Mark, the statement is that surely this man was the Son of God. In Matthew, this man was truly the Son of God. As Dr. Ralph Wilson states at http://www.jesuswalk.org., “The centurion, a career Roman military officer, has doubtless seen and supervised many crucifixions in his life. Though the task is unpleasant, he has become used to it. But in this man whom he has observed for only a few hours, he sees something different. He sees a death different than the many hundreds he has witnessed. And he is in awe.” Even a hardened military executioner could see there was something different about this man. Some suppose, because of his awe and his exclamation here, that he is Cornelius who later became a Christian, the first Gentile convert. The irony here is that though he grew up and was steeped in Roman culture with their gods for this and gods for that and their beliefs in basically what amounts to karma, he recognized the Son of God before him. He saw the Messiah. His eyes were more open to seeing the Messiah that the religious elite of God’s own chosen people. It is also so very symbolic of the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross is for all people regardless of origin. He died on the cross for mankind not just a select few. He died for all. All it takes is for us to recognize who He is and that we are in need of the salvation that He offers.

So what we have here is God’s sorrow and love for His Son on display. It is His validation for all to see that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. The world is stopped for a moment and God shouts through nature that this is His Son. To further validate Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, the veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place is torn at the moment of His death. His death means that Jesus is our High Priest. We can reach God’s presence on our own through His Son. Finally, we see that Jesus’ position as the Son of God is recognizable to any who have their eyes of their soul open. When we are busy trying to protect our things, our power, ourselves, we cannot see Jesus as our Savior, our Messiah. It is only when we are humbled that we can see Him and recognize Him for who He really is. What wonder this scene brings to our view. The ultimate act of love of God for mankind. This moment is the key moment in human history. All you and I must do is see that it is really that – the most pivotal moment in history.

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