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Jesus Dies

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2023 12:01 am

Jesus Dies

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 3, 2023 12:01 am

As Jesus hung dying on the cross, the world was plunged into darkness. While the midday sun failed, the Son of God achieved perfect victory in His work of atonement. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his expositional series in the gospel of Luke and reflects on the dark day of our Savior's death.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

Every day since the creation of the world, the sun has been shining in its strength, but on the day Christ died, the sun, S-U-N, failed while the sun, S-O-N, was victorious over heaven and over hell. When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn't simply like any other crucifixion, and everybody watching that day would have known it.

It was a truly cosmic and dramatic event. This is a Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and I'm glad you're with us as R.C. Sproul continues to preach through the Gospel of Luke. Today, Dr. Sproul walks us through those dramatic events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus and what really was taking place while He suffered on the cross.

Here's Dr. Sproul. We're going to continue now with our study of the Gospel according to St. Luke, and we're in chapter 23, and I will be reading from verse 44 through verse 49, and I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour while the sun's light failed, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. And then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit. And having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, Certainly this man was innocent.

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home, beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. This is of course just a small portion of the biblical record of the death of our Savior in His atonement. These words are given to us by the superintendents in inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth. I pray that you will receive them as the truth of God Himself and be seated. Let us pray. Father and our God, we marvel at what transpired that day in Jerusalem, even with the light of Your supernatural revelation given to us in sacred Scripture, we can hardly begin to comprehend it. So again, we plead for Your help in understanding these things and embracing these things for our salvation, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. Verse 44 in chapter 23 tells us what time it was. It was now about the sixth hour, and in antiquity the Jewish people counted the hours beginning at 6 a.m.

So Luke is telling us that what took place at the sixth hour was at 12 noon, something that lasted until the ninth hour, or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Now before I comment on this text here in Luke 23, let me go back for a moment in time to the first page of sacred Scripture. We call the whole Bible the Word of God, and indeed it is, but I want to look for a moment at the very first words that came from the lips of God. The Old Testament Scriptures begin, as you all know, with the words in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. It goes on to say in that primordial situation that the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. You get the picture, formlessness, emptiness, and a total impenetrable darkness, and the Spirit of God hovered on the waters. And for the first time in recorded history, God spoke. Do you remember what He said? He uttered a commandment, a divine imperative, a divine fiat, where He spoke into this darkness, and He said, Let there be light.

I've just hesitated, but there was no hesitation in that moment. No sooner had the words escaped the lips of God than the lights came on. Remember, beloved, this was before God made the sun.

This was before He made the moon. This was before there was a single star shining in the sky. But the power of the voice of God was enough to vanquish this impenetrable darkness. Probably the source of that light of creation was the same that we are told of in the book of Revelation, where we were told in the final chapters of the Revelation that there in the new heaven and the new earth there will be no temple, there will be no lamp, there will be no artificial lighting, there will be no sun, no moon, no stars, for the glory of God and of the Lamb will be its light. And so at the dawn of creation, the first act of the Creator was to call out of nothing and out of the darkness a glorious and victorious light.

I started there in the first book of Genesis on page 1 because now when we get to our text, we see the polar opposite, the exact antithesis of what took place at the dawn of creation when the cycle was completely reversed. We're at noonday, twelve o'clock, when the sun was at its apogee, God said, let it be dark. And this darkness came, ex nihilo, out of nothing, not from an astronomical perturbation, not from an extended solar eclipse, but again by divine supernatural fiat and command, the world was plunged again to utter darkness. We read, verse 44, Now it was about the sixth hour, high noon, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, three hours of absolute darkness, while the sun's light failed. This was the first day in the history of this planet after God created the sun for a specific task and for a specific purpose to bring warmth to the planet and light, that this created orb failed in its duty. Every day since the creation of the world, the sun has been shining in its strength. You don't always see it. It can be hidden by the darkness of the clouds or as I said temporarily by a solar eclipse or you could live at the polar ice cap either in the north or the south and experience a perpetual winter and a perpetual time of darkness.

And there's a reason why this is the most sparsely populated region of the world because of the absence of the normal function of the sun. But on the day Christ died, the sun, S-U-N, failed while the sun, S-O-N, was victorious over heaven and over hell. Beloved, any time we see the metaphor of darkness in sacred Scripture, it is associated with the judgment of God. In all of the types and shadows of the Old Testament and the celebration of the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat had the sins of the people transferred by the high priest to the back of the goat and then dismissed outside the borders of the encampment of the people of God and sent into the wilderness what was called the outer darkness. And so even now when the full measure of the judgment of God against evil falls upon His beloved Son, when His beloved Son is sent into the wilderness, outside the camp, outside the city, being cursed entirely by the Father, God turned out the lights and this crowd that had been mocking Him and taunting Him, tormenting Him, saying, If you are the Christ, get down off the cross.

If you saved others, can you not save yourself? And when this event took place, every one of the taunts, every one of the mockeries, every one of these torments were stopped instantly as every mouth was silenced, as the people were plunged into total darkness. They were there to watch the spectacle, to laugh at Jesus at high noon, see Him exposed to humiliation, when suddenly they couldn't see their hands in front of their faces. Do you have any idea how terrified this multitude was? It wasn't a momentary blotting of the sun. It lasted across the whole land, and for three solid hours they trembled. They could hear Him talk, but they couldn't see Him anymore. And then the curtain of the temple was torn in two, thirty feet high, forty-five feet wide.

The temple curtain was the wall of partition between the holy place in the temple and the sanctum sanctorum, the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest could go once a year on the Day of Atonement, and even then only after going through elaborate rituals of cleansing. Again, we go back to the early pages, the dawn of creation, when God breathed into the dirt of Adam, and Adam became a living soul. And then He created a helpmate suitable for Adam. From his rib He made his wife Eve, and the first foreboding tension that we encounter in chapter 3 of the book of Genesis as we read, and the serpent was more crafty and more subtle than all of the beasts of the field. You know the story. The serpent slithered into the Garden of Eden, asked a simple question, did God say that you should not eat of the tree, of any tree in the garden, and that if you did you would surely die?

That's not what he said. The serpent knew it wasn't what he said. Adam and Eve knew it wasn't what he said, but they were tricked and tempted and succumbed to the temptation as we all know. And suddenly their eyes were opened, and they were naked and ashamed.

This was the first time in human history that man and woman sought out the darkness. They looked for a place to hide, a place where the gaze of God would not penetrate. And so because of their nakedness and because of their shame, they hid themselves, and when the Creator came in the cool of the evening, He called to His creatures saying, Adam, where are you? And the voice replied, we're hiding because we're ashamed. We're ashamed of our nakedness.

How do you know you're naked? Did you eat of that tree? And of course they had, and the first act of God's redeeming grace was to cover His shamed creatures with skins that He made from animals to hide their guilt. That was an act of mercy, but what followed was an act of judgment, where God expelled and banished Adam and Eve out of paradise, made them leave and to go live east of Eden.

And not only that, for the first time in human history, God appointed earthly government. He assigned a sentinel, an angel with a flaming sword to guard the entrance to paradise, lest Adam and Eve would try to sneak their way back. A sign was posted on paradise, no admission, no entrance here, because they were expelled into the darkness. And throughout Jewish history, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the immediate presence of God was symbolized through the pages of the Old Testament, through the construction first of the tabernacle, then of the temple, where this wall of partition made out of several layers of cloth, not that made out of wood or gold that could be smashed by sledgehammers, but anybody wanted to go in and destroy that wall of separation, if they sent blows against it, the plied cloth would just simply give. But this day, on the Day of Atonement, the temple was torn, not by an earthquake, not from the ground up, but again by the hand of God from the top down, as if the Lord God omnipotent reached down because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and He took the veil of the temple and He ripped it. And He tore down the sign that said no admittance, so that all of those who were covered by the righteousness of Christ and were justified by His life and death would have the result, as the Apostle Paul declared, that being justified we have peace with God.

And what? Access. Access into His presence. The sentinel that stood at the gates of paradise had his sword extinguished and put back in his scabbard as he was dismissed from service as for the first time since the fall. We could go home without shame and without fear to the presence of God. I love this hymn that we sang today, never mind that I wrote the words.

I love it anyway, if for no other reason than the music that was composed to go along with it. Lutes will sing, pipers play when we see him face to face, like your Dave is experiencing on this Sabbath morning. And so the temple was torn and the bar removed and we once again had access to our God. Finally, Luke tells us, Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Seven times Jesus is said, or at least is recorded, that he spoke from the cross.

No one gospel writer mentions all of them, but this presumably was the last one. With his last breath, he made a commitment to the Father. I remember when my father died, I was there. I heard the death rattle in the midst of his coma, and I listened to his breathing as it became shallower and shallower and shallower. And so you would expect at the last moment of Jesus' life that whatever he would say would be hardly audible at all as he was speaking with his last breath.

But do you read what Luke said? Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Into the hands of the one who had just poured out every drop of wrath upon him. Into the hands of the Father who had put this curse upon him.

Like Job infinitely magnified. Job had said, though thou kill me, yet will I trust you here. Jesus said, never mind the torture. Never mind the wrath.

Father, I commit my soul to you. And he breathed his last. Almost as a concluding unscientific footnote, Luke adds, now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, not Caesar, not Zeus, but he praised the God of heaven and earth and said, certainly this man was innocent. Not, I think he was innocent. Not, I hope he was innocent. No, maybe he was innocent. No, he said, certainly.

Echoing the very judgment of Pontius Pilate, I find no fault in this man. And all the crowds that had assembled, I mean huge crowds, for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, listen to what Luke tells us. They went home, not licking their chops. They went home beating their breasts, which was an indication of fear and trembling among them. What they witnessed when the lights came back on, what they heard of the commitment of Jesus, when it was over, they went home in self-torment, beating their breasts and all His acquaintances.

And the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Now, I believe, beloved, in the inerrancy of sacred Scripture, you know that. I know there are many scholars and theologians who don't, but I do, categorically and unequivocally. And one might quibble about a possible error that is found here in the text because Luke recorded that Jesus breathed His last. And He did breathe His last before He died. But the rest of the story says He did not breathe His last because He breathed again. Jesus did breathe again, didn't He? And we rejoice in His victory over the grave. The sermon you heard today was from a series R.C.

Sproul preached at St. Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida. And these messages in Luke, 113 of them, were the beginnings of his expositional commentary on Luke. This resource can be a help in your studies, but it's also rich devotional reading. It can be yours for a donation of any amount at When you give your gift, the e-book edition of this commentary will be yours forever. And you'll be able to easily read it on your smartphone or tablet. So I encourage you to visit today.

Only hours remain for this offer. Dr. Sproul mentioned that Jesus didn't breathe His last. He would breathe again. And that's where we'll pick up in Luke's Gospel next Sunday, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 02:36:01 / 2023-09-03 02:43:19 / 7

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