"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished." Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit." John 19:30With a guttural shout Christ proclaimed, "It is finished!" The Messiah died. It is finished. Sin had been atoned for. Jesus Christ was the propitiation on our behalf, for our sinfulness. He knew no sin, and He became sin so that you and I and countless others could be righteous. He bore billions of our burdens and griefs and sorrows, and He put them in the grave.
"And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." Matthew 27:51Before the death of Christ, only the High Priest was allowed behind the curtain once a year during the Day of Atonement. On this day the High Priest would offer a sacrifice for all the unrecognized sin of Israel. But Jesus is our new High Priest, He is simultaneously our sacrificial Lamb and our Mediator to God. The temple veil that separated the Holy of Holies was approximately 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide and some accounts say that it was four inches thick and was rumored to need 300 priests to carry. The colossal and intricate piece of fabric was torn from top to bottom, a symbol of Christ's accomplishment in making God accessible to all. Can you image the sound of hundreds of pounds of fabric ripping apart by the hand of God? The noise of the weight of separation hitting the temple floor? This was the sound of the old, inferior covenant being laid to rest. The old covenant, the sacrifices and the ritual laws and the mediation of earthly priests had been banished. There was no longer a lesser covenant with constant offerings and ritual purifications. There was freedom. It was finished. He accomplished it all.
"And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" Matthew 27:52-54Creation cried out against the injustices toward the Son of God. Rocks were cracking, and the earth groaned in tremors. The God that was mocked for His silent acceptance of His sentencing was now replying through earthquakes and split rocks and raising the dead. Then Jesus was buried, anointed with spices and oils. Roman soldiers stood guard outside the tomb, with the Roman seal placed on grave entrance, to ensure the body couldn't be tampered with by His disciples. The world was without her Savior. The following day was the Sabbath. They had no new parables to ponder. There were no miracles to witness. No healing for the blind or lame. Though Jesus predicted and foretold His death and subsequent resurrection multiple times, I'm sure there was still disillusionment and anger and deep sorrow in those who knew and loved Him. Those who loved Jesus, who had walked with Him, and served Him, and witnessed His miracles and teachings, we forced to rest without their Beloved. This Sabbath was also a day of silence. God was quiet that Saturday. Can you imagine how painfully juxtaposed that must have been for Jesus' disciples and followers? They were continually with Him, hearing Him teach and lead, they saw Him heal and perform miracles. His mother, Mary, who had heard the voice of God through an infant's cry, a teenager's remark, and an adult Son's lips for 33 years prior, suddenly could not hear that familiar, comforting voice at all? Their friend and son and teacher was dead. Their God was silent.
"He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:12bThe Christ was put to death and laid in the grave that the wicked deserved. He was buried in our place, the sinner's place. He had done nothing atrocious, but the crowds still wanted His blood. He submitted to death, for a time, in order for divine recompense to take place for our sake. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.