It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.—23:44-49
In these first six verses the events surrounding the death of Jesus are described. The darkness over the land for three hours, from noon until about three in the afternoon, my indicate God’s judgement. The tearing of the temple curtain points to the end of the temple system and indicates that entrance into the presence of God is now through the sacrificial death of Jesus, which we have just finished discussing in our verse of the day. Jesus again addresses his Father and entrusts himself into his Father’s powerful care, and it is at this point that Jesus physically dies. A Roman centurion sees significance in Jesus’ death, praises God and confesses the certainty of Jesus’ right relationship to God.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.—23:50-56
These seven verses focus on the reality and the significance of the resurrection. Luke highlights the reality of the empty tomb. The description of Joseph as good and upright and waiting for the kingdom of God reminds readers of the hopes and expectations of individuals in the early chapters of Luke. The references to Jesus body indicate both that Jesus was physically dead and that the body that went into the tomb also came out of the tomb. The perfume and spices were to lower the stench and perhaps slow decomposition. The preparation by Joseph and the women show their obedience to the law, their respect and care for Jesus, their witness of the tomb and Jesus’ body in the tomb, and their expectation of his death as a finality. But his death was a not a finality because Jesus would not stay dead, as we are about to find out.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.—24:1-12
These twelve verses emphasize the empty tomb. After obeying the Sabbath commandment, on the first day of the week the women bring to the tomb the spices they had prepared. (Time notes throughout the chapter link all the events here as taking place within the same day.) Though the women find the tomb with the stone rolled away, they “did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
The two men in dazzling clothes are angels. And in response to the fear of the women at this encounter, the angels announce that Jesus is living and then remind the women of Jesus’ own predictions. As the response of the Eleven indicates, more than the empty tomb is needed for them to grasp the reality and the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter himself sees the tomb with no body inside and is unsure what to make of it, but that will all change. And we will see have that all changes when we concluded this amazing and entirely true story tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Judges 9:22-10:18, Luke 24:13-53, Psalm 100:1-5 and Proverbs 14:11-12
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