Can I be completely frank here? This is going to be the last entry we devote to the actual Passion of Jesus Christ for a while. With Luke we’re finished with our survey of the Gospels. For the rest of the year, we’re going to examine the book of Acts (with some short topical studies). Next year, God willing, we’re going to use to go through the prophets and then the Epistles. Again, I need to be honest here: I’m a little glad. I know we need to focus on it, but the details about the death are not a very encouraging subject. What his death meant and what his death accomplished are extremely important--actually essential to our faith--and I’m probably going to revisit that several times over the remaining time we have. The Epistles are commentary on what the Passion and Resurrection mean for us as N.T. believers, but they really don’t get that much into the physical details, and I think there’s a good reason for that.
Anyway, what does Luke tell us about the final moments for our Savior? If you’re ever playing Bible trivia, and you’re asked “What were Jesus’ final words on the cross?” then today’s passage contains the answer. If you’re in church long enough, you might one day hear a sermon series on the “Seven Statements of Jesus on the Cross,” which there were. These are the last words Jesus produced with his dying breath.
And there’s a lot of meaning here for us. I’ve mentioned this several times in our study of John’s Gospel, because it’s a recurrent theme in it, but it bears some quick review. We’re saved not just by the sinlessness of Jesus but by the positive righteousness of Christ. He did more than just avoid conscious sin all his life. A baby has never consciously made a choice to sin, but if that was enough Jesus could've just died as an infant. There's a reason why he had to live for 33 years before he died. During that time, he was continually and consciously obeying the Father’s will. He spoke what the Father told him to say and did what the Father told him to do. This is what the writer of Hebrews means when he says that the Son “learned obedience from what he suffered.” Not that he ever disobeyed the Father before the cross, but he had never before experienced obedience to the point that he did at the cross.
And that wonderful truth is crystallized in his last words on the cross. It was his life slogan, so to speak. From the moment of first consciousness as a human being to that last moment before he died, he committed his life into his Father’s hands. That’s a great comfort to me, but it’s also convicting when you realize that this is what I’m supposed to do as well.
Luke then mentions his quotation of the centurion after witnessing what he did. I’d like to spend the rest of today’s entry, however, on a tribute to the women in Jesus’ life. We studied Christ’s attitude towards women a few days ago, but here are some points to consider on top of that. Yes, as today's passage points out, women were last at the tomb and first on Sunday morning. Jesus respected them and honored them far above what their culture and society practiced. But Luke also mentions something about them that the other Gospels don’t. How did Jesus and the disciples get their expenses paid? The Master didn’t make a habit of paying bills through miraculous means. All of the Twelve left their jobs behind. There were undoubtedly various supporters and followers who didn’t leave their jobs and who donated. But Luke—always looking out for the underdogs—specifically points out that it was a small group of women who regularly supported Jesus’ ministry.
Yes, the men were at the forefront of the mission. They were his main spokesmen and public representatives. But it was the quiet “behind the scenes” work of women which was used by the Lord to make it possible. And one day they’re going to join a select group. These names are unknown on this side of the Veil, but in the Halls of the Most High God they have applause they would never trade for anything. Not for all the gold and fame this world could ever offer. For their applause will come from nail-scarred hands.
Lord Jesus, I want to follow your heart. I want to be on the lookout for unknown servants who stay far away from the spotlight. Please let me be an encouragement to them. That would be my honor and privilege.