Jesus Expired

“Then once again Jesus cried out with a great voice and gave up the Spirit.”

(Matthew 27:50)

“Then Jesus let out a great voice and expired.”

(Mark 15:37)

“And crying out with a great voice, Jesus said, ‘Father, into your hands I place my Spirit.’ Then saying this, he expired.”

(Luke 23:46)

“Thus, after he received the vinegar, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ And he bowed the head and delivered up the Spirit.”

(John 19:30)

Very little work needs be be done here to harmonize Luke’s and John’s accounts. Jesus clearly spoke both sets of words and each Evangelist is seeking to highlight a slightly different aspect of our Lord’s death. In Luke’s account, there is an emphasis on the submission of the Son to the Father in the work of Salvation. In John’s account, there is an emphasis on the completed work of the Son on the cross — again, both emphases are completely in harmony with one another. In all of the accounts, the authority to give up his Spirit is described as resting squarely on the Son himself, a reminder that he is God, for only God can number our days, hours, and minutes.

Perhaps the word “expired” is a loaded word to use in this translation given the use of the word today to refer to food that has gone rancid. Even so, it expresses the action of breathing out one’s last breath — something that I have seen many times as a pastor when visiting church members who are dying or sitting with families as their loved one dies. It is an unnerving experience and it is an experience that I truly have never gotten used to. Yet, with life in a fallen world, there is death — such is the penalty for our sin and for the sin of our forebears all of the way back to Adam and Eve. Yet, here is the sinless Lord of Life entering into that experience that is uniquely a result of sin. Such was the nature of Christ’s atoning work.

And so, our Lord dies…but the good news is that is not the end of the story. Three days must pass (the rest of Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday) and there is a resurrection that follows…a glorious resurrection that we too can hope for if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The resurrection is the single-most important act in Jesus’ ministry, for upon it we rest all of our hopes. But that is yet to come, in the meantime, there are other events that will transpire this day that carry important ramifications for us as Christians, which we would be remiss if we just glossed over. So, for now, the Lord dies on the cross. And, Christian — grieve over that because it was your sin (and mine) that put him there.

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