Sabbath, June 10, 2017

“The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured–the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father’s face–speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee, who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life–offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 755, 756.

Jesus’ last words on the cross

1. What happened after Jesus cried, “It is finished”? To whom were these words directed?

Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 

“In His dying agony, as He yields up His precious life, He has by faith alone to trust in Him whom it has ever been His joy to obey…. Denied even bright hope and confidence in the triumph which will be His in the future, He cries with a loud voice: ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.’ Luke 23:46. He is acquainted with the character of His Father, with His justice, His mercy, and His great love, and in submission He drops into His hands.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 170.

“The shaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks, the darkness spread over the earth, and the loud, strong cry of Jesus, ‘It is finished,’ as He yielded up His life, troubled His enemies and made His murderers tremble. The disciples wondered at these singular manifestations….” –Early Writings, pp. 179, 180.

Powerful natural phenomena

2. At Jesus’ death, what occurred in nature and in the temple?

Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 

Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.

“Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished.’ ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.’ A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.

“Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 756.

3. What happened to some of those in their graves? What should the Jews have understood about these events?

Matthew 27:52, 53 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 

“Never before had the earth witnessed such a scene. The multitude stood paralyzed, and with bated breath gazed upon the Saviour. Again darkness settled upon the earth, and a hoarse rumbling, like heavy thunder, was heard. There was a violent earthquake. The people were shaken together in heaps. The wildest confusion and consternation ensued. In the surrounding mountains, rocks were rent asunder, and went crashing down into the plains. Sepulchers were broken open, and the dead were cast out of their tombs. Creation seemed to be shivering to atoms. Priests, rulers, soldiers, executioners, and people, mute with terror, lay prostrate upon the ground.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 756.

4. What great sacrifice did Jesus accomplish in His death? How was man’s redemption thus completed?

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 

1 Peter 1:18, 19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

“When the loud cry, ‘It is finished,’ came from the lips of Christ, the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice. The lamb representing Christ had been brought to be slain. Clothed in his significant and beautiful dress, the priest stood with lifted knife, as did Abraham when he was about to slay his son. With intense interest the people were looking on…. With a rending noise the inner veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom by an unseen hand, throwing open to the gaze of the multitude a place once filled with the presence of God. In this place the Shekinah had dwelt. Here God had manifested His glory above the mercy seat…. But lo, this veil is rent in twain. The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred…. 

“The priest is about to slay the victim; but the knife drops from his nerveless hand, and the lamb escapes. Type has met antitype in the death of God’s Son. The great sacrifice has been made. The way into the holiest is laid open. A new and living way is prepared for all. No longer need sinful, sorrowing humanity await the coming of the high priest.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 756, 757.

The centurion’s testimony

5. What conviction was expressed by the Roman centurion and those with him when they saw the upheavals in nature and everything else that happened in connection with Jesus’ death?

Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 

Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

“In the closing events of the crucifixion day, fresh evidence was given of the fulfillment of prophecy, and new witness borne to Christ’s divinity. When the darkness had lifted from the cross, and the Saviour’s dying cry had been uttered, immediately another voice was heard, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ Matthew 27:54. 

“These words were said in no whispered tones. All eyes were turned to see whence they came. Who had spoken? It was the centurion, the Roman soldier. The divine patience of the Saviour, and His sudden death, with the cry of victory upon His lips, had impressed this heathen. In the bruised, broken body hanging upon the cross, the centurion recognized the form of the Son of God. He could not refrain from confessing his faith. Thus again evidence was given that our Redeemer was to see of the travail of His soul. Upon the very day of His death, three men, differing widely from one another, had declared their faith–he who commanded the Roman guard, he who bore the cross of the Saviour, and he who died upon the cross at His side.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 770.

Other effects 

6. What did the people in general think about these things?

Luke 23:48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 

“The shaking earth, the piercing cry, the sudden death which called forth in no whispered tones the cry, ‘It is finished,’ forced from many the words, ‘Assuredly this man was righteous’; ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ Many who had scoffed and jeered at, and taunted the Son of God were terribly afraid that the shaking earth, the rent and trembling rocks would put an end to their own lives. They hastened away from the scene, beating upon their breasts, stumbling, falling, in awful terror lest the earth should open and swallow them up. The veil of the temple rent so mysteriously, changed the religious ideas of many of the Jewish priests, and a large company changed their faith.” –(Manuscript 91, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1108.

They followed Him to the cross

7. Who faithfully followed Jesus from Galilee to Judea and from Jerusalem to Golgotha, staying as close as possible to Him? 

Matthew 27:55, 56 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. 

Mark 15:40, 41 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41(Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. 

“The women who had been Christ’s humble followers while He lived, would not leave Him….” –Early Writings, p. 180.

“The disciple John with the women from Galilee had remained at the cross.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 772.

“ ‘And many women were there.’ At the cross of Christ, at some … distance from it …. they had seen His miracles, heard His doctrines, and had been savingly converted by Him; and therefore followed Him wherever He went, though an hundred miles or more, and through many difficulties and discouragements: they attended Him in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and now at His cross; nor did they leave Him when dead, and in His grave…. This respects what they had done heretofore, in their journey with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem; when they ministered to Him of their worldly substance, as a token of their affection for Him….” –John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, comments on Matthew 27:55.

Thought questions

  • During His ministry, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign of His divinity. Did they now believe Him, having seen all of the signs associated with His sacrifice and death?
  • How significant were the facts that, during the court proceedings, on the way to Golgotha, and when the religious leaders opposed Jesus and requested His death, some foreigners and a malefactor recognized Him and accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord?
  • What can we learn from the apparent contradiction that the disciples saw Jesus’ death as the greatest trial and disappointment, while it was the greatest victory of all time–for the salvation of man?

For additional study

“Christ did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and with His parting breath He exclaimed, ‘It is finished.’ John 19:30. The battle had been won. His right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a Conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. Was there not joy among the angels? All heaven triumphed in the Saviour’s victory. Satan was defeated, and knew that his kingdom was lost.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 758.