Luke 23:46


Sermon preached on June 11, 2006 by Laurence W. Veinott. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.newlifeop.org/.

Luke 23:46

I once read a story called
Rendezvous at Samara. (By Peter Marshall, who in the late 1940’s was twice chaplain to the United States Senate.)

“A man who worked as a servant of a wealthy merchant. He had gone into town for the day when suddenly he felt someone brush heavily against his shoulder. Somewhat offended, he turned toward the person who had jostled him, and found himself staring into a pair of eyes that spoke death to him. Panicking, he dropped everything and ran home. His master saw him running breathlessly toward the house and met him on the front steps. ‘What on earth is the matter?’ the master asked. ‘Oh, sir! Someone in the marketplace rudely brushed me, and when I turned to face him, he looked like the Angel of Death to me. He too had a look of shock on his face. It was almost as if he wanted to grab me but then backed away. I am afraid, sir. I don't want to go back to the market.’ ‘Saddle one of our horses and ride all day till you reach the distant village of Samara,' the master said. ‘Stay there till you get word from me that it is safe for you to return.’ The servant rode off, and the master made his way to the market to find the person who had so frightened his servant. As he wound his way through the crowded streets, he suddenly came face to face with this strange looking individual. ‘Who are you?’ the merchant said. ‘Are you the one who just scared my servant?’ ‘Yes, indeed.’ ‘Why did you frighten him?' 'Well, I was truly surprised to see him here. I am the Angel of Death, and I chose to spend the day here before heading to my stop for tonight. You see, it was not so much that I surprised him, as that he surprised me. I did not expect to see him here because I have an appointment with him in Samara tonight.’”



If the Lord tarries you cannot escape death. The hour of your death has been determined and it will come upon you and no matter how you might want to delay it or avoid it, it will overtake you. As we read in Job 14:5,

“Man’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

When the day of your death comes you will in a very real sense be a victim. For us death is still a great enemy and we will be helpless before it.

But we must not think of Jesus’ death that way.
With Jesus it was different.

Jesus willingly chose death.

His death was unlike any other. Death had no claim over Him. The curse of sin is death. Jesus had no sin. The Bible tells us that He was made like us in every way except for sin. (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15) As such He was immune to death. It had no right to Him. It had no claim on Him. As Jesus said in John 10:17-18,

“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.
This command I received from my Father.”

In His death, Jesus was not a victim. He willingly gave up His life. He willingly dismissed His spirit. His death was voluntary, given for us. He chose it for us.

Thus we ought to see in Jesus’ death remarkable and glorious love for His people.

Before us we have the highest and grandest illustration of love that exists. We see Jesus, the Author of Life, choosing to experience death for sinners. We see this as well in Ephesians 5:25 where the apostle Paul wrote,

“Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her”

Thus in our text we have before us is the most remarkable instance of love that could possibly be—Jesus giving His life for sinners. Our text says,

“Jesus called out with a loud voice,
‘Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit.’
When he had said this,
he breathed his last."

How incredible and astounding it was! He chose to die for us. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:8,

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us."

Christians, Jesus died for you. Try to comprehend the magnitude of that statement. He experienced death for you.

To understand this as we should we need to see that

death is a great evil.

Many people today will tell you that death is good, that it's natural, that it makes room for others, for new ideas, for progress. Last year Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, gave the commencement address at Stanford University. He said,

"Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new."



He said that death is the most innovative aspect of life, because it is the great recycler. It enables progress.

Simon Singh tells us the same thing in his book, 'The Big Bang'. He writes,

"Death is an essential element in the progress of science, since it takes care of conservative scientists of a previous generation reluctant to let go of an old, fallacious theory and embrace a new and accurate one."



I see their point. Death is a change agent. But they're looking at it way too narrowly, ignoring the horrible and horrific realities of death, ignoring the many ways in which the changes that death brings are not good.

It's ludicrous to call death good. That ignores the horrible realties of death. It's like saying that
war is good because it's good for the economy or because it's exciting. Mao Tse-Tung wrote, (Mao, by Jung Chang, p. 14)

"When we look at history, we adore the times of [war] when dramas happened one after another… which make reading about them great fun. When we get to the periods of peace and prosperity, we are bored…"



For anyone to call war good and exciting means that they're putting blinders on, ignoring the deaths, sufferings, atrocities and injustices that go on in war. I don't think that anyone who was in their right mind would come back from experiencing war and say that it was good. It's a great evil.

It's the same way with those that say that death is good—they're ignoring and minimizing horrible realities, and focusing on such a narrow and minor concept—that what they're saying is ludicrous. I mean, if the Bible is true and unbelievers are lost forever, their deaths usher them into the most horrible reality that could ever be. That's a change. But it's not good. Jesus said, (Mark 8:36)

"What good is it for a man
to gain the whole world,
yet forfeit his soul?"

In death souls are lost. They're worth much more than a little scientific progress. Death is not good.

There is nothing so unnatural, so horrible as death. Death is part of the curse of sin. In a certain sense you could say that man was never meant to die, that he was meant to live forever with God, serving God and enjoying Him.

But because Adam sinned, death came. Death destroys. It removes sinful, unrepentant men from the land of the living and from any opportunity to escape eternal damnation. It puts men and women in hell forever and ever. Death is so horrible. The Scriptures refer to it as an '
enemy'. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says,

"The last enemy
to be destroyed
is death."

In physical death the body and soul are rent asunder. This is not something that is good. It is unnatural.

We can see horrible realities
even in the death of Christians, who only experience the shadow of death, in whom the great thrust of death's sting has been lessened. For a Christians death is a doorway to Christ. We see this in Philippians 1:22-23 the apostle Paul wrote,

"what shall I choose?
I do not know!
I am torn between the two:
I desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is better by far;"

And in 2 Corinthians 5:6f he wrote,

"Therefore we are always confident
and know that as long as we are
at home in the body
we are away from the Lord.
We live by faith,
not by sight.
We are confident, I say,
and would prefer to be away from the body
and at home with the Lord."

Also in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he told Christians not to grieve over the death of Christians like the rest of men who have no hope. Because of what Jesus has done we have great hope.

But even for a Christian there are horrible realities about death.

There are many aspects to this. On the one hand it means that they are separated from the living. As Job said in Job 7:8f,

"The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me,
but I will be no more.
As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so he who goes down to the grave does not return.
He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more."

It's the end of their earthly sojourn. There is grief for those who are left behind. You'll remember how Mary and Martha grieved for their brother Lazarus. His death caused them distress.

But it's not just in missing them that distress comes. Did you ever lose someone who was a great spiritual blessing to you, who inspired you, who greatly helped you? When the apostle Paul was killed the church lost a great leader. He had been such a blessing to so many Christians. But then he was gone. Death came upon him.

On the other hand, the death of a Christian means that their bodies, which are a vital part of their being—are subject to corruption and return to dust. As God said to Adam after his sin, (Genesis 3:19)

"for dust you are
and to dust you will return."

How horrible even for a Christian to die. Writing in 2 Corinthians 5:4 the apostle Paul said,

"For while we are in this tent,
we groan and are burdened,
because we do not wish to be unclothed
but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

In a sense Paul hoped that Christ would return in his lifetime. If he was still alive then he would be found to be clothed with a body, and not in a disembodied state. Paul did not wish to be unclothed. For him, to be without a body was to be 'naked'. Philip Hughes comments on Paul's words, (Corinthians, p. 170-171)

"the soul, is essential, in according with the scheme of creation, for the full expression of the personal and potential faculties of humanity. The soul of man is able to express itself adequately only in conjunction with the specially prepared instrument of the body. Without a body, man ceases to be truly and properly man."



Hughes continues,

"At death the soul is separated from the body, and man's integral nature is disrupted. This important aspect of the disintegrating character of death explains the Apostle's desire that Christ should return during his lifetime, so that he may might experience the changed into the likeness of Christ's body of glory (Phil. 3:21) without first having to undergo the experience of 'nakedness' which results from the separation of soul and body at death."



Remember the souls of the martyrs in the Apocalypse, who cried to the Lord, (Revelation 6:9-10)

"How long,
Sovereign Lord, holy and true,"

Hughes,

"Death, although no longer feared, is still repulsive to the Christian; it is still a disruptive event…"



Remember Jesus before the grave of His friend, Lazarus? Did He say, "This is good. This is going to help progress."? No. Absolutely not. John 11 a remarkable passage, one which we should not merely see in terms of Lazarus' death, but also in terms of Jesus coming to His grave—knowing that soon He too, would be in His grave. We read, (John 11:33f)

"When Jesus saw her weeping,
and the Jews who had come along
with her also weeping,
he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
'Where have you laid him?' he asked.
'Come and see, Lord,' they replied.
Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said,
'See how he loved him!'
But some of them said,
Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man
have kept this man from dying?'
Jesus, once more deeply moved,
came to the tomb."

What a passage! Jesus before Lazarus' grave, deeply moved, weeping, groaning. How horrible this death!

Death, even for a Christian- is horrible and has horrible consequences. Consider our bodies—can they praise God from the grave? No. They're dead. They decompose. They return to dust. We were created from dust for the glorious purpose of praising and glorifying God, honoring Him, enjoying Him, rejoicing in Him and magnifying His great name. Christians, here today, we do that. Our bodies participate in that. But when we die our bodies will cease to do that. And that's a great evil. This is how we should understand some of the comments of the Old Testament, such as that of King Hezekiah in
Isaiah 38:18,

"For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness."

And of Psalm 6:5, which says,

"No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave?"

The great purpose for which we were created is compromised by our deaths. Our bodies go to the grave and they do not praise God or live for Him. They are dead.

What a horrible thing. We were created from dust to live with God, for God, to glorify Him and rejoicing in Him, not just with our souls, but with our bodies as well. We were Part of our redemption is that we can honor God with our bodies. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:20 (KJV),

"For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit,
which are God's."

But when we die our bodies go back to dust. There they cannot fully fulfill their purpose—to glorify and praise God. What a tragedy! Death is horrible. It has horrific aspects to it, even for a Christian.

But Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. He experienced death, not just the shadow of death—but the most horrific realities of it. His body and soul were separated. His body became lifeless. His spirit was gone. Can you imagine how it was for those who buried Him! Jesus died for sinners.

Now what does all this mean for us?

First of all, for you who are Christians, this means

Jesus' love for you is absolutely incredible.

Jesus chose death for you. He allowed His soul to be separated from His body. He allowed His body to become lifeless! What a thing! This was a body like no other. He had never committed a sin. It was the body of the 'Author of Life'. Yet His body experienced death. His soul experienced the 'nakedness' of being separated from His body. He experienced the 'disintegrating' character of death!

Why? Because He loved you! Because that was what was required to save you! The curse upon your sin was death—death in all its horrific fullness. He laid down His life and chose death—for you, so that you could live.

Secondly, you Christians should understand that

the exact price for your sin has been paid.

Sin required death and Jesus, the author of Life, endured death for you Christians. On the cross Jesus suffered abandonment by the Father. He experienced the terrors of hell. He died. He breathed His last and His body and soul were separated. His body was put into the grave of Joseph of Arimathea and it remained there until Sunday morning. He fully paid the price that was due to your sin.

Now the point here is that the situation is not like what happened in Nova Scotia last December. A guy went into a hardware store and bought a snowblower. He paid for it and but for some reason he didn't take it with him right away. I don't know if they were going to deliver it or if he went home to get a truck to get it. But not long after he left someone realized that they had marked the price of the snowblower incorrectly. It had been marked as something like a $300.00 snowblower when in actual fact it was a $500.00 snowblower. So they wouldn't give it to him. They wanted him to pay an extra $200.00. But he refused saying that they had sold him the snowblower for $300.00. They argued for months over it and almost went to court.

What we should understand in Jesus' death—there was no mistake about the price that was required. It was death. Nor was there doubt about what Jesus did for us. He died. Jesus paid the price in full. The exact price for your sin has been paid. As we read in
Galatians 3:13,

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law
by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written:
'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"

The price for your sin has been paid.

Thirdly, this means that as a Christian,

you can face death with confidence, with a sure hope.

When he lay dying, Stephen said, (Acts 7:59)

"Lord Jesus, received my spirit."

He was confident about it. He saw heaven open and Jesus on the right hand of the Father. He is in glory today.

Christian, death has no legal claim to you. Jesus faced death. He endured it, He conquered it. He said,

"Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit."

What happened? The Father took care of Him. Remember Jesus' words from John 10 that I quoted earlier? (10:17-18)

"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.
This command I received from my Father."

The Father loved the Son because of His work of dying for us! He was so pleased with His Son.

The actions that the Father took on behalf of His Son. He took His spirit to paradise. Even more than that, the Father would not allow Jesus' body to see decay.
Psalm 16:10 predicted,

"because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay."

Neither would God allow Him to be buried in an ordinary grave. He was buried with the rich and His body was honored in that way. But even more than that—the Father raised Him from the dead. There are numerous verses in the New Testament that tell us this. Ephesians 1:20 is typical. Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened,

"in order that you may know
the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
which he exerted in Christ
when he raised him from the dead
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,"

The Father raised Jesus from the dead. So you can have full confidence that He will raise you. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:11,

"And if the Spirit of him
who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit,
who lives in you."

Or as Paul wrote earlier in Romans 6:5,

"If we have been united
with him like this in his death,
we will certainly also be united
with him in his resurrection."

But someone might ask- why do I have to endure death- if Jesus paid the price for me? What's the answer to that? Technically, the answer is that you don't have to die. Many Christians aren't going to die. When Jesus comes again the Christians living then are going to be changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye—and be made like Him without undergoing death. Enoch and Elijah also never experienced death.

So Christians don't have to die. But until Jesus comes again, it is part of the suffering that we are called to endure. But you can face it bravely, confidently, with a sure hope of your soul going immediately to heaven and your body being raised when Jesus comes again.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians.

One day you are going to face death. You will be powerless against it. The great question is:

Will anyone rescue you from it?

You need someone to save you, to take care of your soul, to raise your body incorruptible. You need Jesus to take care of you. Go to Him today.