Summary: The meaning of the Cross is revealed by the miracles of the Cross.
If thousands of Jews were crucified why do we only remember one of them? Perhaps we can find out as we look at these miracles of the Cross.
A. The Sun Darkened. (45)
Jesus was put on the Cross at 9 o’clock in the morning. At noon an utter darkness settled in. This was not a sandstorm or an eclipse. This darkness lasted for 3 hours. We don’t know how far reaching this darkness was, but the Christian Tertulian wrote to the heathen readers of his day; "this wonder is related in your own annals and is preserved in your archives to this day."
There has been much written about the meaning of the darkness, so I will share my thoughts on its meaning as well.
a. Darkness throughout Scripture has been associated with judgment. The Bible makes clear that the Cross is the divider between heaven and Hell. The division is between the believers in Christ finished work of the Cross and the Christ rejecters.
He endured the darkness of the Cross so we could be saved from the outer darkness of hell.
b. John introduced us to Christ in his gospel as the "light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness..That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:4,5,9)
The Light of the world had been snuffed out. God’s appropriate response was to remove all sun light as a symbol of the removal of Son Light.
c. Spectators had gathered at the Cross to watch the suffering of Christ. The Father protected His Son from the shame of a wicked people taking pleasure watching Jesus die. No human eyes were allowed to gaze onthe Lord’s last hours.
2. The Separation Declared. (46-49)
(46)At 3 in the afternoon the sun reappears. Almost at the same instant, Jesus screams out "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
This is a quote from (Ps 22:1) But (22:3) answers the question; "But thou art holy..."
(Hab 1:13) "Thou art of purer eyes that to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity."
You see, something tragic and yet wonderful had taken place during that 3 hours of darkness. It was during those 3 hours that Jesus became sin for us. (II Cor. 5:21) "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Jesus didn’t just bear our sin, He became sin. The totally righteous was made sin so that the totally sinful could be made righteous.
Though Christ never sinned in thought or deed, that sin He became for us separated Him from the Father. 183 times Jesus called God Father in the Scripture. Only this once does He call Him God. The intimacy of the Holy Trinity is interrupted. For the first time in eternity, Jesus is not One with the Father.
That sin which we take so lightly so sickened the Father that He had to turn away in the hour of His Son’s greatest need.
(47)The spectators knew the prophecy that Elijah would be the forerunner of the Messiah. They are again mocking His claim to Messiahship.
(48) Another fulfilled prophecy. (Ps 69:21) "They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." vinegar was actually a cheap, sour wine.
(49) The mocking and jeering continued.
3. The Spirit’s Departure. (50)
Crucifixions normally took days not hours before the victim died. But Jesus was in sovereign control over the whole scene even in His weakened condition.
As a pastor, I have often heard the death rattle of struggling lungs, but our Lord didn’t go that way. He dismissed His spirit with an act of His will. Speaking of His life, Jesus said, (John 10:18) "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.."
The work of redemption was finished, so He laid down His own life.
4. The Sanctuary Denuded. (51)
Don’t imagine a little, sheer kitchen curtain for this veil. It was more like a very heaving hanging theatre curtain, 60’ long and 20’ wide. The veil separated the people from the Holy of Holies, the symbolic dwelling place of God. Only the High Priest could enter in and then only once a year.
God tore the veil from top to bottom. He, alone, made the way to come directly to Him. The veil was a symbol of the body of Jesus. When His body was rent upon the Cross, the way was opened into the presence of God. No more need for temples and altars and sacrifices. No more need for priests to mediate between God and man. A believer can now go directly to the throne of God through Jesus Christ.