Luke 23:44-48 – It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
The sky darkened as Jesus died. It was as though the sun itself could not bear to look down upon the deed people had done. This very same darkness awaits all who dismiss Christ from their lives.
The temple veil was severed from top to bottom. This veil hid the Holy of Holies from sight. It was the place where God dwelled, the place where no one could enter except the high priest and he, only once a year, on the great day of atonement.
Now the very soul of God thundered out from behind the veil. The appearance of God, which until this time had been hidden, was thrown open for the whole world to see, and God's almighty heart was laid open in compassion. For the birth, life and death of Jesus tore away the religious camouflage which tried to conceal God from people.
Before this, Jesus had said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) On the cross, as never before and never again, people saw the love of God.
Then Jesus called out with a loud voice. John 19:30 tells us Jesus died saying "It is finished!" But Jesus did not die with a whisper like one who is on his knees admitting defeat, begging mercy from an enemy. Instead he shouted, It is finished, like a champion who had won the final battle with the enemy. It is finished! is the cry of our crucified conquering Lord!
Then he died with a prayer on his lips, from Psalm 31:5, "Into your hands I commit my spirit."
Remember the child's prayer:
- Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
The Roman centurion and the crowd were deeply moved as Jesus died. His death did what his life could not do… it broke the hardened hearts of people. As these hearts softened, Jesus' saying came true: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32) The magnet of the cross had begun its work, even as he breathed his last breath. Later, St. Paul would say, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14)
Prayer: Thank you God for sending your Son to us. Thank you for telling us your story of unending love. Bring us to the cross of Christ so that we too may serve the King. And let us use our hearts and hands to reach out and touch others with Christ's undying love. Heavenly God, Give us time to do your will. For it is your nature so to do. We pray through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives now and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.