Luke 23:44–49

Read the passage.

The death of Jesus is accompanied by several supernatural signs, and Luke doesn’t tell us all of them that happened. The first is darkness from noon to about 3 P.M. (Before you think “Eclipse!” like I did, know that Passover happens during the full moon, and solar eclipses during the new moon.) The second is the tearing of th e curtain in the temple. This curtain separated the Holy Place in the temple from the Holy of Holies and would have been anywhere from 10 to 30 feet tall. It was also thick enough that no one could see through it. And yet, when Jesus died, it was torn completely in two from top to bottom. Luke doesn’t tell us about the earthquake or the saints rising from the dead on Sunday, but they also heralded the death (and soon-to-be resurrection) of Jesus.

The fact that Jesus is able to call out with a loud voice right before He dies is also something outside the natural order of things. Crucifixion is a death by asphyxiation wherein the victim becomes too exhausted to take a breath. With the arms stretched out, the diaphram can’t pull in enough air unless the legs are standing on the nail driven through the feet. But this a very painful position, so one is constantly struggling between needing to breathe and relieving what pain you can. The other two criminals had their legs broken so their deaths would be hurried along before the Sabbath started. They wouldn’t have been able to support their chests in order to breathe after that. But after three hours of torture, after being too weak to carry His cross up the hill, Jesus is able to speak loudly, and then chooses to stop breathing entirely.

The centurion in charge of these executions was very experienced with executing criminals this way, and he noticed that Jesus’s death was not how it went, ever. He recognized God’s hand in the supernatural events going on around him. The people who had come to see the specatacle of a public execution were also disturbed and grieved by what they saw. Interesting, then, that we don’t get any reactions from Jesus’s followers when they see their Teacher perish. They merely bear witness.

Even in death, You are glorified. And Your victory over the grave proves Your majesty.

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