Jesus did not die as a helpless victim; He died as a heroic victor! One of my favorite scenes in the Gospels is when Pilate stood nose to nose with Jesus and proudly presumed, “Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” But Jesus reminded him, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn. 19:10-11, NKJV). No one took His life. He laid it down willingly (Jn. 10:18). Christ could have summoned more than twelve legions of angels to rescue Him (Mt. 26:53). Instead, He yielded to His Father’s will and was obedient even unto death. When Christ expired, eight significant things transpired:

  1. The Sun was Eclipsed—Mt. 27:45. Everyone was buzzing about the recent solar eclipse which lasted about three minutes. The eclipse at the cross lasted three hours, (12:00-3:00 p.m.). Nature reflected the mood of God. The sun recognized its Creator’s pain and hid in shame. Ironically, the Light of the World died in total darkness as Christ became sin which is symbolized in Scripture by darkness (Eph. 5:8, 11).
  2. God Turned His Back on His Son—Mt. 27:46. Jesus, quoting Psalm 22:1, cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Being separated from God hurt Him worse than the torture He endured. Why did God the Father abandon His Son at that moment? Because God is holy and cannot look upon iniquity with approval or favor (Hab. 1:13). On the cross Jesus absorbed our sin like a sponge, and God the Father, who couldn’t bear to see His Son suffer, looked away. The divine part of Jesus was not defiled by sin, but He wore and bore our sin in His body like a coat (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pt. 2:24). Just as the corporate sins of Israel were confessed over the scapegoat and it was led outside the camp and abandoned in the wilderness, our sin was transferred to Christ and His righteousness was and is imparted to us by faith (Lev. 16:21-22, Heb. 13:11-13). The Son was temporarily forsaken by the Father so we never have to be (Heb. 13:5-6).
  1. A Curtain was Torn—Mt. 27:50-51. Notice it was torn from top to bottom indicating this was God’s work not man’s. Plus, this was no ordinary curtain. Some sources say it was forty feet tall, forty feet wide, and four inches thick (it was multicolored and had multiple layers of fabric sewn together of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen with cherubim embroidered into it (2 Chr. 3:14). For centuries the veil concealed the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies. However, it was empty at this time (the Ark had been missing since Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C.). Also absent was God’s Shekinah glory. So, God exposed their religion as an empty shell of its former glory (it had declined into formalism without faith, tradition without truth, and rituals without relationship). That is one reason why Jesus cleansed the Temple. Only the High Priest was permitted to enter one time per year on the Day of Atonement. By ripping the veil in two, God granted us unlimited access to His presence (Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22). The barrier that separated man from God was removed once and for all.
  1. The Earth Quaked—Mt. 27:51; 28:2. There were actually two earthquakes—one when Jesus died and another when He rose again. The spiritual clash between good and evil overflowed into nature. The earthquakes were God’s emphatic way of declaring that this was no ordinary man or death. After witnessing the quake, the centurion in charge of the crucifixion and his soldiers were convinced of Christ’s Lordship (Mt. 27:54). He had seen many people die, but there was something very different about this MAN! That centurion killed people for a living, but God melted his hard heart like hot butter. The earthquake turned cold-blooded killers into blood-washed believers.
  1. Dead Saints Arose—Mt. 27:52-53. The Bible doesn’t say how many, but it does say “many” (maybe dozens). Imagine the impact of their witness as they went throughout Jerusalem testifying to all the people they knew. They are a type of the dead in Christ who will rise at the resurrection (1 Th. 4:16-17). There are eleven recorded resurrections in Scripture (nine individuals and two groups of people who were raised from the dead). Eventually, all of them died again of old age (what a bummer). Jesus was the only one to rise from the dead never to die again. And just think, the same Holy Spirit power that raised Him from the dead lives in us (Rom. 8:11).
  1. A Debt was Paid—1 Jn. 2:1-2. Jesus paid for every sin that ever has been or ever will be committed. When He cried, “It is finished,” He used the Greek word tetelestai which means “paid in full!” Archeologists have found ancient tax receipts with tetelestai stamped on them indicating a zero balance. It’s the spiritual equivalent of changing bank accounts with Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. We went from bankrupt to billionaires spiritually. No wonder the songwriter wrote, “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song ‘Amazing Grace.’ Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”
  1. A Head was Crushed—Gen 3:15. This first Messianic prophecy predicted that Christ would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise His heel. When Christ died on the cross, He stomped His heel squarely on the serpent’s head delivering a mortal wound. Satan is a defeated foe. Although, with all the demonic activity in the world, it looks like evil is winning. But what happens when you crush a snake’s head? It twists, writhes, and whips its tail in final death throes. Satan is on a short leash and his time is limited because Christ crushed his head on the cross (Heb. 2:14-15, Rev. 12:12).
  1. Keys were Retrieved. The resurrected Redeemer said, “I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Rev. 1:18, NLT). Just as David slew Goliath with his own sword, Jesus took the devil’s biggest weapon (death) and turned it on him (Heb. 2:14-15). Adam forfeited the keys (authority) of death and the grave to Satan in the fall, but Jesus descended into hell and reclaimed them. (Eph. 4:8-9, 1 Pt. 3:18-20). Christ conquered death so we don’t have to fear it anymore. Ultimately, death will be totally destroyed, and the glorified saints will live eternally (1 Cor. 15:25-26). No wonder Paul wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).

When Jesus expired, these eight things transpired, and His death certificate became our birth certificate. Hallelujah!