44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, Ďinto Your hands I commit My spirit.í" Having said this, He breathed His last.
47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"
48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. 49 But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (NKJV)
Here, the totality of the sins of the world, our sin, blots out the light of the sun. Our Savior, God come in the flesh, takes upon himself all those sins. Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:21 that He who knew no sin became sin for usóall our sins were imputed to Christ. In that moment, the fullness of Godís wrath fell upon His son, and God, too holy to look at sin, turned his back on Jesus.
Someone asked me yesterday why we call this Good Friday, since Christís death seemed such a sad occasion. But 2 Cor 5:21 goes on to say that, at the same time, we became the righteousness of God. Christís righteousness, the totality of His earthly obedience and sinless life, was imputed to us through faith. The veil of the temple was torn, giving us access to the Holy of Holies as the writer of Hebrews observes, allowing us to boldly approach the throne of grace. Christ paid the penalty for our sins that we could never pay, not because He had to but because He chose to do so by His infinite grace. At the same time, through His perfect life, He granted us eternal life and peace with the Father. Truly we celebrate GOOD Friday!
Jesus last words here come from Psalm 31:5:
5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. (NKJV)
Psalm 31 declares to us the good news of the gospel. Who redeemed us? The Lord, the God of truth. Psalm 31 declares God our rock and our redeemer, that we put our trust in Him alone. The psalmist declares that God is our strength, and we rejoice in His mercy. He doesnít deal with us as we deserve. The wages of sin is death, and Godís perfect holiness and justice require the penalty to be satisfied. He would be perfectly just to strike us all down this second for our sin, for as Paul reminds us, there is none righteous, no not one. Yet Christ tells us that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. On our own, we are without hope. But, in His infinite grace, God chose instead to step down from His throne of judgement and pay that penalty Himself. He freely grants us Christís righteousness, that we may worship Him for eternity. We truly celebrate GOOD Friday.
Notice also that Christ freely and willingly gave up His Spirit. Crucifixion victims often took days to die on the cross, but Jesus took only 3 hours. John 10:18 records Christ telling us that He is the good shepherd, that no one takes His life from Him, but that He freely lays it down for us. He told Pilate that even the powerful Romans had no power but that which God granted them. Jesus went on to say in John 10:18 that He also has the power to take His life up again. We celebrate the historic truth of His resurrection in just a few short days. Jesus rose as the first fruits from the dead. Because Jesus rose, we know that we too will be resurrected in the last days. We shall not all sleep, but we will all be changed in an instant! Christ will call from the grave all those who died in faith, to spend eternity in glorified bodies on a new earth under a new heaven. Death will be banished forever, its sting vanquished. Thus we celebrate GOOD Friday.
So we now, like the crowd at the cross, reflect upon the death of an innocent man. Nay, as even the heathen centurion recognized, a righteous man, in fact, God incarnate. In ourselves, none of us can make a claim to righteousness. We are dead in our trespasses and sins, deserving nothing but eternal punishment at the hands of a just and holy God. Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Christ died for your sins, that apart from Christ there is no salvation, and acknowledge His righteousness as your only hope, you will be saved. Only thus can we ever hope to spend eternity worshiping Him and praising His grace. Let us leave this worship service today, dedicated to living lives of obedience and gratitude to Him, glorifying God in all we think, say, and do.
To God alone be the glory. Amen.