Matthew 27:45-54 The Passion Translation For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. 46 And at three o’clock Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?—that is, “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?” 47 Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” 48 One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. 49 But the rest said, “Leave Him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue Him.”[
50 Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit.
51 At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were split apart, 52 and graves were opened. Then many of the holy ones who had died were brought back to life and came out of their graves. 53 And after Jesus’ resurrection,[f they were plainly seen by many people walking in Jerusalem.
54 Now, when the Roman military officer and his soldiers witnessed what was happening and felt the powerful earthquake, they were extremely terrified. They said, “There is no doubt, this man was the Son of God!”
See also Matthew 27:32-54; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:26-47; John 19:17-37
I was a Roman Centurion, and I oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was my job to oversee the crucifixion, to delegate and to order the execution of it.
I was there when the Jewish religious authorities brought Jesus to Pilate to be questioned. He had already been beaten. Pilate found no basis for a charge against Him. He ordered Him to be flogged, and I watched as soldiers whipped Jesus and placed upon His head a crown of thorns they had twisted together. They gave Him a purple robe and mocked Him saying, “Hail! King of the Jews!” striking Him in the face.
I ordered Jesus to be given a cross to carry up to Golgotha, the hill that resembled a skull. I supervised as my soldiers nailed His feet and hands to the beams and lifted up the cross and secured it in the ground in the middle of two criminals also being crucified that day. Four soldiers played a game of dice for His purple robe. Hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Who was this man’s father and who needed to be forgiven?
People passed by hurling insults along with the religious leaders who mocked Jesus. A small group of women stayed near Jesus the entire time. One of them was Jesus’ mother and a young man named John. Jesus saw them and said to them in a clear voice, “My dear mother, he will be a son to you,” and to the man, “and she will be a mother to you.” The woman and man held each other, nodded and wept.
At noon, the sky went dark as night. It was as if the sun just stopped shining. After three hours of darkness, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
My Father? My God? Who is this Jesus crying out to? What was the meaning of Jesus’ words?
Jesus asked for water. He was suffering and weakened by the hours He had hung on the cross, but not to the point of death. I had witnessed many crucifixions. A man would hang on a cross often for days, until death came from exhaustion and asphyxiation. Jesus had many more hours to endure before death would come for Him.
After taking a drink, Jesus raised His head and cried out in a loud and strong clear voice, “Father, I commit My spirit into Your hands. It is finished.’’ And He breathed His last.
Jesus spoke as if death had no power over Him unless He allowed it. He chose His last breath just as He chose His last words.
What was the meaning of His words?
Just then the earth shook so hard that the ground, the very rocks, split. Those of us who were there were thrown to the ground. We were unified in our terror. Never had any of us experienced anything such as this.
Something broke inside me. It felt like my heart was torn in two. It was as if I’d been dead in a tomb and the tomb had been broken open. I had come from death to life like a babe comes forth from the womb. And like a babe I cried. I wailed.
Jesus. Father. God. Who was this man?
In that moment light pierced my soul and finally I understood. I knew. And the truth came rushing out of my mouth, “Surely this is the Son of God!” And I praised Him. That day and the next and every day after, I praised Him—Jesus, the Son of God.
Dear Jesus—Son of God, Savior of the world—thank you for enduring the cross for the joy set before you. You willingly gave Your life as ransom for mine. You brought me from death to life and I too will praise You every day of my life and for eternity. Shine Your light in to my soul, so that I can understand and know the truth of Your love and grace and mercy toward me.