Jesus’ Life and Ministry
“Certainly This Was God’s Son”
JESUS has not been on the stake long when, at midday, a mysterious, three-hour-long darkness occurs. A solar eclipse is not responsible, since these take place only at the time of the new moon, and the moon is full at Passover time. Moreover, solar eclipses last only a few minutes. So the darkness is of divine origin! It probably gives pause to those mocking Jesus, even causing their taunts to cease.
If the eerie phenomenon occurs before the one evildoer chastises his companion and asks Jesus to remember him, it may be a factor in his repentance. Perhaps it is during the darkness that four women, namely, Jesus’ mother and her sister Salome, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of the apostle James the Less, make their way close to the torture stake. John, Jesus’ beloved apostle, is with them there.
How the heart of Jesus’ mother is ‘pierced through’ as she watches the son she nursed and nurtured hanging there in agony! Yet, Jesus thinks, not of his own pain, but of her welfare. With great effort, he nods toward John and says to his mother: “Woman, see! Your son!” Then, nodding toward Mary, he says to John: “See! Your mother!”
Jesus thereby entrusts the care of his mother, who is evidently now a widow, to his specially loved apostle. He does this because Mary’s other sons have not as yet manifested faith in him. Thus he sets a fine example of making provision not only for his mother’s physical needs but also for her spiritual ones.
At about three in the afternoon, Jesus says: “I am thirsty.” Then, sensing that his Father has, as it were, withdrawn protection from him in order that his integrity might be tested to the limit, he calls out with a loud voice: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Upon hearing this, some who are standing nearby exclaim: “See! He is calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them runs and, using a sponge soaked with sour wine on the end of a hyssop stalk, gives him a drink. But others say: “Let him be! Let us see whether Elijah comes to take him down.”
When Jesus receives the sour wine, he cries out: “It has been accomplished!” Yes, he has finished everything that his Father has sent him to earth to do. Finally, he says: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” Jesus thereby commits to God his life-force in confidence that God will restore it to him again. Then he bows his head and dies.
The moment Jesus breathes his last breath, a violent earthquake occurs, splitting open the rock-masses. The quake is so powerful that the memorial tombs outside Jerusalem are broken open, and corpses are thrown out of them. Passersby, who see the dead bodies that have been exposed, enter the city and report it.
Furthermore, at the moment Jesus dies, the huge curtain that divides the Holy from the Most Holy in God’s temple is rent in two, from top to bottom. Apparently this beautifully ornamented curtain is some 60 feet [18 m] high and very heavy! The astonishing miracle not only manifests God’s wrath against the killers of His Son but signifies that entry into the Most Holy, heaven itself, is now made possible by Jesus’ death.
Well, when people feel the earthquake and see the things happening, they grow very much afraid. The army officer in charge at the execution gives glory to God. “Certainly this was God’s Son,” he proclaims. Likely he had been present when the claim of divine sonship was discussed at Jesus’ trial before Pilate. And now he is convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, yes, that he is indeed the greatest man who ever lived.
Others too are overcome by these miraculous events, and they begin returning home beating their breasts, as a gesture of their intense grief and shame. Observing the spectacle at a distance are many female disciples of Jesus who are deeply moved by these momentous events. The apostle John is also present. Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; 2:34, 35; John 19:25-30.
◆ Why can a solar eclipse not be responsible for the three hours of darkness?
◆ Shortly before his death, what fine example does Jesus provide for those with aged parents?
◆ What are Jesus’ last four statements before he dies?
◆ What does the earthquake accomplish, and what is the significance of the temple curtain’s being rent in two?
◆ How is the army officer in charge at the execution affected by the miracles?