The events surrounding the death of Jesus are recorded in the gospels; but do you ever take the time to know more deeply what it might have been like?
Luke 23:44 – 49
The death of Jesus
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Last year I went to see the Mark Drama. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a basic acting out of the events in the Gospel of Mark. I remember it came to the crucifixion, and the lights went out… we sat in utter darkness for what seemed like several minutes as we waited for the events to continue. And when it did, all we could hear was the banging of a mallet on nails, pained groans, and a voice crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”.
It struck me, because for the first time I had a tiny clue as to what it might have been like in Jerusalem on the day Jesus died. It was confronting and uncomfortable.
Can you imagine what it might have been like to be going about your day, and right when the sun is brightest in the day, it goes dark – the sun stops shining. If you’ve ever seen a full solar eclipse, you’ll know it can be quite eerie.
And the temple curtain torn in 2… this is not your average window furnishing. This was a thick curtain, possibly up to 18 meters tall, and thick… like inches thick. The sound it made as it inexplicably ripped would have been startling to the people of the day.
And events, such that the centurion could go from crucifying Jesus, to declaring him a righteous man – we’re not told what it is that made him change his mind, but it must have been remarkable.
We tend to read the passages in the gospels about Jesus being crucified and dying, and we tell ourselves that we know it was a horrible way to die, and that he did it for us. But I don’t think, until I sat in the darkness listening to the sounds of this passage, that the pure horror of what happened on that day started to hit home…
Knowing this – feeling this – makes it all the more striking that he went through these events for us – so we can be forgiven our sins, brought back into relationship with God.
Head: Read verses 44-47, pausing after each full stop. Take a moment to think about the physicality of what these verses are saying.
Heart: How did that make you feel?
Hands: What is one thing you can change today out of a response to knowing this passage more deeply?
Dear Heavenly Father. When we read about the death of your son, we can take it for granted, or gloss over it as part of the Bible we’ve read so many times. But we pray today that you will help us to know this passage more deeply – that knowing this will make us want to live lives that are worthy of what you’ve done for us. We thank you that you went to such incredible lengths to redeem us. Amen
A song to listen to: Suffering Servant
Living Church – Creek Road