Death Came First

Posted: April 1, 2018 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 23:44-56, “Death Came First”

“You’re late! You’re preaching the wrong text! We’re supposed to remember the crucifixion on Friday, and the resurrection on Sunday!” The death of Jesus is entirely appropriate to remember on Easter/Resurrection Sunday. After all, for there to be a resurrection, there must first be a death.

In fact, one might argue that this is one reason Luke (and the other gospel writers) spend so much time dealing with it. After all, where else in the Scriptures does this happen? The Bible often tells us the fact of someone’s death, and sometimes the circumstances leading up to it – but rarely does it give the kind of details that surrounds the death of Jesus. We’re told of His last words, the witnesses around Him, the controversy over His body, His place of burial, and even the rituals that prepared His body for burial. That sort of thing is almost unheard of in the Scripture. Genesis 25 tells us where Abraham was buried, but not any details concerning his body. Genesis 50 gives us a few additional details of Jacob’s burial, though only summarizing his actual death. Moses’ death is only briefly mentioned in Deuteronomy 34, as is David’s in 1 Kings 2 & 1 Chronicles 29. The point? Jesus’ death and burial stands out as unique. It is purposefully emphasized in Scripture. The writers wanted their readers to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus really died. Why? Because if Jesus really died, that means that once He was seen again, He really rose.

So yes, it’s appropriate to remember Jesus’ death on Resurrection Sunday. One event miraculously leads to the other. Death comes first, in order that the Resurrection comes at all!

When looking at the context, we might be lost as to where to begin! This moment had been anticipated by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since before the foundations of the world. The whole of Jesus’ earthly incarnate life had led to this point. Were we to narrow it down to the previous 12-18 hours, it would seen that Jesus had gone through the full gamut of human suffering. He had been betrayed, rejected, denied, dismissed, abhorred, abused, crucified, and ridiculed. Yet by the end of it all, there was at least one who believed. Out of the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus, one had expressed his own faith, asking Jesus to remember him in Jesus’ future kingdom. With glorious assurance and grace, Jesus told him that he wouldn’t have to wait long. That very day Jesus pledged the man would be with Him in Paradise.

Paradise was coming, but it wasn’t there yet. Jesus still drew breath, as painful as it was. Soon He would die, and all the world around Him would bear witness. It would be infinitely tragic, but ultimately glorious. For Jesus, death was not the end – just like it need not be the end for anyone who believes in Him as Lord. Resurrected life was on the way, which guarantees eternal life to us! But before He was raised, He first had to die. One directly leads to the other.

May we pay close attention to the death of Jesus, in order that we might know life in His name!

Luke 23:44–56

  • Jesus’ death (44-49). Final moments (44-46)

44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

  1. Luke provides a bit of time reference. Accounting for the Jewish system of time, the morning began at 6am, that being the 1st hour of the day. Thus the 6th-9th hours are from noon – 3pm. Keep in mind that Luke does not say that Jesus was on the cross only for 3 hours; that was just when the darkness lasted. Mark 19:15 notes that Jesus was crucified at the 3rd hour (9am), so He would have hung on the cross for 6 hours total.
    1. There is a bit of debate concerning the times in the gospel accounts, as John wrote that Jesus was still with Pilate during the 6th hour, and this was when Pilate presented Jesus to the nation, still seeking to have Jesus freed as their King (Jn 19:14). Is this a contradiction? No – there are different arguments on either side. It possibly comes down to different methods of time accounting (Jewish vs. Roman).
    2. Don’t miss the main point. The issue isn’t so much chronology, as it is agony. This was no quick execution. It wasn’t as if the worst part of the day was having spikes driven through Jesus’ wrists & feet, and then everything was all over. Jesus’ ordeal lasted for hours. It was interminably long. Consider the times you’ve been in terrible pain – mere seconds feel like several minutes to hours…time seems to slow down. Consider what it was like for Jesus. He not only had the physical pain of the cross & all of its horrors, but He had the emotional and spiritual pain of bearing the wrath of God. No doubt, the hours felt like years.
  2. As Jesus hung on the cross, the sky grew dark – remaining this way for three full hours. Question: when Luke writes “there was darkness over all the earth,” does he mean that there was no part of the earth that had light at the time? Was Rome or London just as dark as Jerusalem? No – that wasn’t Luke’s point, and we do ourselves a disservice to press it this way. Luke simply means that as far as the eye could see, it was dark. Luke is not making an astronomical statement of an event that affected the whole planet; he’s giving a description from eyewitness reports of what it was like in Jerusalem at the time. How can we be certain? His whole context is Jerusalem, as is seen in verse 45…

45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

  1. The “sun was darkened,” but the “veil” was local. Luke describes local Although it is true that the word translated “darkened” can refer to an eclipse of the sun (indeed, our English word is taken from the Greek: ἐκλείπω), it is guaranteed that there was not an eclipse on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Again, how can we know for sure? Because Jesus was crucified in connection with Passover, and Passover never has an eclipse. Eclipses of the sun are only possible with new moons; not full moons. (Astronomy review: a new moon is when the illuminated side of the moon is away from the earth, thus the moon is difficult to see; a full moon is when the illuminated side is facing the earth. Full moons, by definition, are only possible when the earth is in-between the sun & the moon. Thus, although lunar eclipses are possible during Passover, solar eclipses [which would actually darken the earth] are not.) The feast of Passover is specifically directed to take place after a full moon, being that it is the 14th day of the Jewish month Abib, i.e., the 1st month of Spring.
  2. So what was the darkness? Perhaps thick cloud cover – perhaps dense fog – perhaps a supernatural darkness such as existed during the Egyptian plagues. We can’t say with certainly what the darkness was – we can only say with certainty that it was not a solar eclipse, and that it was definitely seen by all within Jerusalem and the surrounding area. (Which makes sense for the day of Pentecost 50 days later, that all people in Jerusalem were well aware of the events surrounding Jesus. Even if they hadn’t personally seen Him hanging from the cross, they would have experienced the uncanny darkness while He hung there.)
  3. The sun may have been obscured, but there was at least one thing that was unexpectedly revealed: the holy of holies in the Jerusalem temple! Normally, a thick curtain (“veil”) separated the holy place from the most holy place. The temple had several divisions, the outermost area being public (itself being sectioned off into areas for Gentiles, for Jewish women, and for Jewish men); then there was the holy place where the priests burn incense, light the menorahs, change out the showbread, etc.; then there was the most holy place, where only the high priest would enter once a year to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat of the ark (when it existed). That room was never seen, apart from the high priest, always serving as a reminder of God’s ultimate holiness and the people’s separation from Him due to their sin. Yet, as a result of the cross, when Jesus died this temple veil was torn in two (from top to bottom, according to Matthew & Mark. The reminder of man’s removal from God was no more. The price had been paid, and mankind now had full & free access to God via faith.
    1. How free? Totally free! Hebrews 10:19–22, “(19) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, (21) and having a High Priest over the house of God, (22) let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” The temple veil was nothing compared to the veil of Jesus’ flesh! Because His body was broken for us, now those of us who believe have full, unrestrained access to God the Father. Praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect High Priest!
    2. Christian, there is no sin you commit that is “too much” for the grace of Jesus. When He ripped the veil, He did it all. You cannot rebuild that which He has destroyed. That’s not to say that Christians never sin and never have need of repentance…we certainly do! But we always can repent, because Jesus has made the way!

46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.

  1. The words spoken from Jesus at the cross are spread out among the four gospels – this phrase being unique to Luke. Although we might not recognize it as being a fulfillment of prophecy (as we would Jesus’ earlier cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” from Psalm 22), it actually is. In fact, we might argue that it is more than a statement of fulfilled prophecy; it’s a statement of faith from Jesus in the fulfilled redemption of God. Psalm 31:1–5, “(1) In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. (2) Bow down Your ear to me, Deliver me speedily; Be my rock of refuge, A fortress of defense to save me. (3) For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me. (4) Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. (5) Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.” This is a psalm of David, but it speaks so well of the Greater-than-David, the Lord Jesus! Just as David had experienced hardships and persecution from his enemies (particularly Saul), so did the Son of David generations later, particularly when Jesus was hanging upon the cross. Yet in those trials, God the Father could be trusted. Although it had seemed as if the Father had utterly forsaken Him, at the end, Jesus knew beyond doubt that His Father had redeemed Him – or rather, had received Jesus’ work as the redemption price. Just moments earlier (according to the gospel of John), Jesus had declared “It is finished!” – that the price had been paid, and the work was done. Now that work was ratified, and the Son could place Himself totally in the hands of His Father.
    1. So can we! Because of the finished work of Christ, we can entrust ourselves totally unto God. We need never fear that Jesus’ sacrifice is insufficient, that the cross is not enough; it is! Everything that could be done, everything that was required to be done, was done by Jesus at the cross. Our ransom has been paid, and Jesus’ blood was enough. All that is left for us is to receive His finished work by faith – to fully trust in Christ, and fully entrust ourselves to the mercies of God because of the work of His Son. Those who do, find themselves gloriously saved!
    2. This can be you, today! Maybe you’ve been in church dozens of times – maybe you’ve heard all your life about the work of Jesus & His death on the cross. But in all of those times, you’ve never responded to His work in faith – you’ve never consciously entrusted yourself to God. You can do that today! 
  2. Once Jesus made this profession, “He breathed His last.” With no more to be done, He could finally be released from the pain and torment of the cross. It’s interesting to see that at the very moment most would think that death conquered another victim, it was Jesus who was the Victorious Conqueror. After all, death did not overtake Him; He gave Himself unto it. Jesus chose the moment of His death…He was fully in control the entire time.
  • Reactions (47-49)

47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”

  1. Quite the reaction from a pagan solider! Most likely, the centurion was there as a supervisor. Being an expert in the things of death, someone had to oversee the events at Calvary/Golgotha. Someone had to ensure that the men sentenced to die there did indeed perish. An officer within the Roman army who had the responsibility of leading at least 100 men was perfect for the job. But what he saw amazed him. The centurion was no stranger to death, but never had he seen a death like this. Never had he witnessed the earth paying tribute to the One being tortured, as was seen in the unnatural darkness or the accompanying earthquake (unmentioned by Luke; Mt 27:54). These events had a profound impact, and he couldn’t help but saying something.
  2. What did he say? Of all the things that could be said of Jesus, one that could not be said was that Jesus deserved this death. The criminals on either side of Him did – countless others in the crowds at the foot of His cross did – even the centurion and the soldiers under his command did. All of them deserved some punishment for some sin. But not this Man. This Man was “righteous,” i.e., innocent of all charges. Both Pilate and Herod had come to the same conclusion earlier that day, though they didn’t care. They were just as happy to send Jesus to the cross as to release Him to the crowd. They knew Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, but they were content to release Him unto death. Not the centurion. The centurion’s reaction went further than Pilate and Herod. Not only was Jesus undeserving of the death sentence, but Jesus was truly righteous in the first place. IOW, Jesus not only had an absence of sin; He had an abundance of the one thing absent in everyone else: righteousness.
    1. This is exactly what makes Jesus the perfect substitute for us. Our sin requires death. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and blood must be shed. But if we don’t want our blood shed, then we need an acceptable sacrifice. That’s Jesus. Yet it’s one thing to have our punishment removed; it’s another to receive an undeserved gift of life. How can we receive that? We need not only an innocent unblemished sacrifice; we need a source of righteousness. Again, that’s Jesus. When we believe upon Him, we don’t only have our guilt removed (glorious enough!), but we have grace imparted. We receive the righteousness of Christ, in order that we might become the children of God. This is grace beyond our imaginations! …
  3. Question: Was this saving faith, or just a simple observation? Many scholars believe it to be an observation, nothing more. They note that even the further statement of the centurion recorded by Matthew & Mark, “Truly this Man was the Son of God,” is nothing more than a statement of Jesus’ righteousness, considering the centurion was likely a believer in many gods. To be called “a son of the gods,” would have been a compliment, nothing more. Even so, those scholars seem to sell the centurion short. Matthew & Mark both use singular terms for “God;” not plural. It wouldn’t exactly be a stretch of the imagination to think that the centurion, who was aware of all the controversy surrounding Jesus earlier that day (if not, earlier that week!), who witnessed all of Jesus’ sufferings & His responses towards those who tormented Him, who witnessed the supernatural events that took place at the moment of Jesus’ death – to think that this man (though a Gentile pagan) would have come to true faith in the true Son of God. After all, we are expected to see these things and believe. Why not an actual eyewitness to them? Neither Matthew, Mark, nor Luke give any indication that this centurion saw Jesus through the eyes of anything less than saving faith; we have little reason to believe otherwise.
    1. The point? Faith is internal. You either have it, or you don’t. Either the centurion believed, or he didn’t. If he rightly observed Jesus’ innocent righteousness, but did not believe that Jesus was the true Son of the true God, then the centurion still went to hell in unbelief. A half-faith is still wholly condemned. Yet if the centurion did come to true faith in Christ, then he had all the assurance as did the one criminal next to Jesus. He too, had the promise of Paradise.
    2. The question for you is whether or not you have that same assurance. Do you have that same faith – a full faith?
  4. The centurion wasn’t the only one watching the sight. Others were there as well…

48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.

  1. The “crowd” watched, and they grieved. Perhaps this was the same crowd that followed Jesus along the road. Luke shows two sets of crowds in Jerusalem: those who believe in Jesus, and those who rejected Him & wanted Him crucified. This seems to have been the former. Although there were many who mocked Jesus from the ground, the reaction described by Luke isn’t that of mocking, but of mourning. To “beat their breasts,” was a show of grief in the culture, indicating that these people also believed Jesus was wrongly crucified. Whether or not they also had saving faith is unknown to anyone but God. Yet there was one group of people whose faith was undeniable: the women.

49 But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

  1. Luke mentions Jesus’ “acquaintances,” noting that there were men and women at the foot of the cross that truly knew Jesus. Of all His apostles, at least John had been present, being the one to whom Jesus entrusted the care of His mother (Jn 19:25-27). Undoubtedly there were others, whose names we won’t know this side of heaven. (It’ll be interesting to learn who they were!)
  2. The women, however, were known, and their faith was undeniable. Never had they left Jesus’ side. Although no women were mentioned at the trial of Jesus in front of the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod, that isn’t unexpected as women wouldn’t have been allowed in those situations. Yet everywhere the women could have been, they were. That’s not to say their faith wasn’t shaken, or that they understood every theological event that was unfolding at the time; it’s simply to say that their devotion to Jesus never failed. They loved Jesus, and despite any difficulties they may have experienced, they were determined to remain devoted to Him.
    1. Sometimes we have to draw a line in the sand with our faith. There are some situations we don’t understand, nor even have the ability to understand – but we still have to choose whether or not we will believe. Choose faith! Choose to remain devoted to Jesus, no matter what! 
  3. In this case, what did the women do? They observed. Luke writes that they were “watching these things.” IOW, they watched Jesus die. They knew the exact moment Jesus’ last breath left His body, and there was no doubt in their minds their Lord was dead.
  • Jesus’ burial (50-56). Joseph (50-54)

50 Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

  1. Once Jesus was dead, something had to be done with His body. Typically, those who were crucified had their bodies left upon their crosses, subject to the carrion birds and insects – a gruesome reminder to all not to commit crimes against Rome. Obviously, this couldn’t be allowed to happen to Jesus’ body. Enter Joseph of Arimathea. Scholars are unsure as to location of Arimathea – some believe it was 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem on the border of Judea and Samaria. What we do know is that it was “a city of the Jews,” and that Joseph was a leader among the Jews. According to the standards of the day, he was “a good and just man.” IOW, he lived an upstanding life, and was considered by his peers to be a good Jew & faithful citizen of the Hebrew nation. The bottom line is that Luke goes out of his way to demonstrate this was a good guy – one who was not consenting to the conspiratorial decision against Jesus. Although the Sanhedrin railroaded Jesus, and the Jewish nation was a whole rejected Jesus, some Jews believed. Some Jews had faith, as demonstrated by the disciples, by the women who remained with Jesus, and even by some members of the ruling class such as Joseph and Nicodemus the Pharisee.
  2. How do we know Joseph had faith? All Luke writes is that Joseph was “waiting for the kingdom of God.” That itself is a statement of faith, considering that all of Jesus’ disciples were waiting for the kingdom of God, believing Jesus to be the King. Even so, the Bible gets very specific on this point, telling us that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus (Jn 19:38). To this point in his life, Joseph had every reason to remain underground. If his faith had been known, he would have been ridiculed and perhaps kicked off the council. Besides, there were other prophets in Israel and other men who had claimed to be the Messiah. Joseph could bide his time, believing in Jesus, but waiting things out to see what happened. At some point along the way, the proof became overwhelming. Though Joseph had been a secret believer, his belief would not remain secret for long.

52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.

  1. Please do not miss the magnitude of Joseph’s request. Although it might read as some matter of routine city administration (what to do with a dead body), this was much more. This was nothing less than Joseph’s public declaration of faith! As a council member, Joseph had the standing to make the request from Pilate – but this was a double-edged sword. He could make the request, but as he did, he would also out himself as a disciple. The Sanhedrin wanted Jesus humiliated – they wanted Him disgraced as a teacher, and disgraced in death. That’s one of the reasons they fought so strongly for crucifixion. To be hung on a tree unto death was considered to be a cursed death (Dt 21:22-23), and that’s exactly why they wanted it for Him. (What they didn’t realize is that this was part of Jesus being made a curse for us, in order that we might have our curse of death removed – Gal 3:13.) For a fellow council member to want to treat Jesus’ body with respect would have been a surefire sign that he was a friend of Jesus – that he was a believer in Jesus. Thus, Joseph’s request for burial was his proclamation to all, “Yes, I believe that Jesus was the righteous Messiah.”
    1. There comes a moment in the life of every believer in Jesus that someone’s faith becomes public. Faith sometimes begins in secret, but it rarely remains that way for long (except perhaps in the most rare of circumstances, as when a person’s life is in danger…and many times, not even then!). At some point, the grace of Jesus Christ bursts through our actions and our words – His transformation within us is undeniable. At that point, for us to deny our Lord is to be disobedient. If we are ashamed of Him, then He will be ashamed of us (Lk 9:26). For Joseph, the time had come for him to be unashamed, to be bold, and to let his faith in Jesus shine bright!
    2. For some of you, today might be that day. Don’t let fear stop you from expressing your faith in Jesus as Lord.
  2. Not only did Joseph make the request; he acted upon it. He got personally involved in the burial of Jesus. This wasn’t something to be delegated out to servants, which were surely available to someone with Joseph’s wealth. Even as a deeply religious man (though we don’t know if Joseph had a formal ministry position among the Pharisees or scribes), Joseph didn’t fear to get his hands dirty. To touch dead bodies would normally render a person ritually unclean – something perhaps reasonable on “normal” days, but this was the Passover. Surely Joseph ought to have someone else deal with Jesus’ body on such a high holy day, right? This was Joseph’s faith, and this was Joseph’s act of devotion and worship.
    1. Worship is something impossible to delegate. No one else can have your faith, and no one else can give God your worship. Unless you get involved, your worship won’t be done.
    2. We might not often think of it in these terms, but that’s exactly what many people try to do. They show up in a worship service as spectators; not participants. They think: “I just wait for the musicians to engage in worship – that’s their position, after all. Or just look to the pastor…let him pray & worship & do all that other sort of ‘spiritual’ stuff.” So the pastor worships, and the musicians worship…but what about you? God isn’t interested in your delegated worship; He wants you. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; that’s something you have to do personally. (What better day to start than Resurrection Sunday?)
  3. As for the burial itself, the Bible provides several details. First, Joseph donated his own tomb for Jesus’ use (Mt 27:60). The tomb was new, having been recently cut out of the rock. This itself was a fulfillment of prophecy, being that Jesus was with the rich at His death (Isa 53:9). Interestingly, there is a parallel with Jesus birth in this: just as Jesus was born from a virgin mother, His body was laid in a virgin tomb. Otherwise, the process of burying Jesus reflected the customs of the day. His body was wrapped in linen (thereby making the Shroud of Turin highly unlikely, if not impossible), it was packed with spices (Jn 19:40), laid to rest with a large stone rolled in front of the doorway to block the stench of decay.

54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

  1. Considering that the Sabbath began at sundown on Friday (lasting until sundown Saturday), all of this took place late Friday afternoon. This fits with the earlier timeframe provided by Luke. Darkness covered the land from noon to 3pm, at which point Jesus cried out to God and committed His spirit to God as He died. Joseph requested the body from Pilate, and he (along with Nicodemus) had to work quickly in order to ensure their work was completed prior to the beginning of Sabbath. They had only a few hours, but it was enough to do the bare minimum.
  2. FYI, for all the debate that takes place among some Christians as to the actual day of the week Jesus died on the cross, it’s interesting to note that the modern Greek word for “Friday” is exactly the same as the word used in the text for “Preparation.” The Bible repeatedly testifies that Jesus died on Good Friday – and it fits with prophecy and necessity.
  • The women (55-56)

55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

  1. Earlier, the women had observed Jesus’ death; now they observed His burial. So what? So they knew whether or not this was all a hoax. They knew whether or not the disciples were carrying out some grand conspiracy. They would have known if Jesus had just slumped in a faint or a coma – and if He had, there’s no way they would have let Him be buried! The women were witnesses to all these things, and they acted the same way they would have acted in any death…because Jesus actually died.
  2. That Jesus physically died is no minor detail. Rather, it’s an intricate part of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, “(3) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” Notice the prominent mention of Jesus’ death and burial. These elements are not optional to the gospel message; they are essential to it. Why? Because a resurrection is only a resurrection when there is a death. We need a resurrected Jesus in order to promise us our own resurrection – we need a resurrected Jesus in order to guarantee us eternal life. That can’t happen without a real death. A fake death accomplishes nothing for our salvation. A fainted Jesus is impotent in regards to eternal life. Only a dead Jesus who returned to life is able to give life to us. And that is exactly what Jesus does!

56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

  1. Question: if they witnessed what Joseph & Nicodemus did (Jn 19), why did they prepare more? We can only speculate. Even though the men packed Jesus’ body with a kingly amount of spices, perhaps the women believed more needed to be done. Perhaps they observed that only spice was used, and no oil. Perhaps they just wanted to personally get involved. In the end, we don’t know. But it’s good they believed they needed to return later…that’s exactly what made them the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection! 
  2. For the time being, the Sabbath had come, and obedience to the commandment required that the women rest. By the time the Sabbath ended on Saturday, it would be too late to begin the remainder of the work, so they had to wait until 1st light on Sunday morning. No doubt they were crushed and disappointed Friday night, but they were in for the surprise of their lives on Sunday!


Sunday for them (and for us) IS glorious! On Sunday, Jesus rose from the grave, demonstrating His sufficient sacrifice and victory over death. On Sunday, Jesus proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is God in the flesh. On Sunday, Jesus proved that His offer of salvation is trustworthy, being available to all the world. Truly Sunday is a great day!

But Sunday was never available without Friday. Friday came first, because death had to come first. For Jesus to offer resurrected life, He had to first physically die. His blood needed to be shed for our sin, and His body needed to be broken for our sin. He had to personally bear the wrath of God upon Himself…and that was exactly what He did.

When He did, creation bore witness through the darkness, even as light shone through the temple veil for the first time. Jesus entrusted His life to God, as a Roman centurion trusted Jesus as God. Several Jewish people publicly mourned, as a Jewish leader publicly showed his faith. Through His death, Jesus changed the lives of many that very day…and He has changed the lives of multitudes more through the centuries that followed.

Jesus’ death still changes lives, because Jesus’ death is not the end. His death leads to a new beginning – not just resurrected life for Him, but abundant and eternal life for us. WE can partake in the new life of Jesus, when we believe upon Him, His death, and His life.


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