Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
“With a loud voice” Christ uttered his last words. This is significant. Crucifixion was no ordinary death. It was long and drawn out; it slowly sapped all the strength from a person. Most crucified people died in a state of unconsciousness. If one did remain conscious to the end, that person scarcely had the strength to utter a sound. Christ, however, did not die of exhaustion. His mind was clear, and at the very end, he cried with a loud, clear voice. This indicates that he did not die as a result of his wounds. He did not die because he had to. He died because he willed it. Death did not come to him, but, uniquely, he came to death. He died as he had foretold: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:17,18). It is true: The Jews and Romans murdered him. But they could never have touched him if he had not voluntarily surrendered himself to such a death. His was no ordinary death.
And why? Because his was the death of no ordinary man. Notice the first of his dying words—Father. He does not call God “Father” in the sense we do. He is the true, eternal, only begotten Son of God, altogether like and equal to the Father. Therefore, he himself is true God. This was his claim all through life, and it was his claim in death.
Christ’s death was the death of a man who was also the Son of God. Here we must take off our shoes because we stand on holy ground. Here an unsearchable mystery faces us. How could Christ—God’s Son, who calls himself the life—die? Let us not throw up our hands, as some do, and say, “Impossible! It was only a man who died.” We keep our feet on the solid rock of these facts: With Christ’s birth, God became man but did not cease to be God, just as surely as God died when “[Christ] breathed his last.”
This great truth of the gospel is a rock, the rock of our faith. No mere man “can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them” (Psalm 49:7). Only the death of God can atone for our sins. “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
May Thy life and death supply
Grace to live and grace to die,
Grace to reach the home on high:
Hear us, holy Jesus. Amen. (TLH 186:3)
Image above by David Bailey