The darkest moment in Jesus life became the greatest victory as in Luke 23:45 “the curtain of the temple was torn apart down the middle” and the way was opened for us to enter in to the Holy of Holies, the place of the Mercy seat. Physical death was not the end for Jesus and in Acts 2:24 “God raised him up, having brought to an end the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it”. Now, there is a new and living way, through Jesus Christ and we are His witnesses for the world around us. Though he was taken up, and Luke 22:69 “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”, he is not far off because we have access as he says Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us approach with confidence to the throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
The Curtain of the Temple Was Torn Apart
It was nearing the moment of Jesus death, in Luke 23:44 “it was about the sixth hour”, which loses meaning for us in the translation because, for them, “The day was counted from 6 a.m. (first hour) to 6 p.m. (twelfth hour). In the Greek text, Luke indicates that the sky became dark from about the sixth hour to the ninth hour, so roughly noon to 3 p.m”.1
This darkness happened in Luke 23:45 “because the light of the sun failed”, but “the sun’s light failing need not describe an eclipse, which is impossible at the time of the Paschal full moon”2 this darkness is rather the darkness over the land as the light of the world is crucified. For these moments in time, Jesus goes through his own separation from God as he takes on the sin of the world. This was the time that ended with Jesus exclamation, in
Mark 15:34 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)”
but this moment of darkness was also the very beginning of a new covenant, a new beginning, a new time where the very Holy of Holies became open to us as in
Luke 23:45 “the curtain of the temple was torn apart down the middle”
and it was behind this curtain that the ark of the covenant sat with its cover, the mercy seat, “So with the tearing of the curtain of the temple, the curtain that separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple … gives symbolic expression to the truth that the death of Jesus has made the way open into the very presence of God (cf. Heb. 9:3, 8; 10:19ff.)”.3
We now can enter in, not by the sacrifice of animals which could never make us clean, but by “the new and living way” as it says in
Hebrews 10:19–21 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence for the entrance into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God”.
The Body of Jesus
Why Look for the Living Among the Dead?
Jesus has died. They had laid him in the grave and sealed the tomb. But it was done very quickly as the Sabbath began at sundown, only a few hours after, in
Luke 23:46 And Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit!” And after he said this, he expired.
So now they come to finish his burial preparation in
Luke 24:2–3 “And they found the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body.”
They had not expected this even though Jesus had prepared them in
Luke 9:22 saying, “It is necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised on the third day.”
They had not had any experience like this so didn’t know how to process what was happening so in Luke 24:4 “they were perplexed” and “two men in gleaming clothing stood near them”, they saw two angels so now in Luke 24:5 “they were terrified” which is often the human response to angels. The angels tell them, in Luke 24:5-7 “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men who are sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise?” and in Luke 24:8 “they remembered his words”.
This is all beyond belief for all of them, even the apostles refuse to believe in
Luke 24:11 “And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they refused to believe them”.
O Foolish and Slow in Heart to Believe
And Their Eyes Were Opened
He Himself Stood There Among Them
He Opened Their Minds to Understand the Scriptures
He Was Taken Up Into Heaven
Jesus has gathered the disciples together again. He has prepared them for the work they have ahead. They have touched his resurrected body and eaten with him. And, Jesus has given them a final charge, to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit in Luke 24:49. Now, in
Luke 24:50 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.”
They had been in and around Jerusalem, but Jesus purpose was not to make a show before the high priest or the elders or the Romans or the Jewish people, his focus is on his apostles, his witnesses. So he takes them out of the city to “Bethany (which) was (a) village on the Mount of Olives about 2 mi (3 km) from Jerusalem”.4
Then, in Luke 24:51 “he parted from them and was taken up into heaven” signifying the end of his earthly ministry. Since then, Jesus also appeared to Saul when in Acts 9:1-9 “a light from heaven flashed around him” but now we wait for his coming again as it says in
1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
Until then, we will have dreams and visions, or be in the spirit as John was in Revelation 1:10. Others have also reported their own personal encounters with the Lord as he directs the Church even now.
- Luke 23:44-49 The Curtain of the Temple Was Torn Apart
- Luke 24:1-12 Why Look for the Living Among the Dead?
- Luke 24:50-53 He Was Taken Up Into Heaven
- Luke 23:44-56
- Luke 24:1-53
- 1. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 23:44). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- 2. Gore, C. (1942). The Gospel according to St. Luke. In C. Gore, H. L. Goudge, & A. Guillaume (Eds.), A New Commentary on Holy Scripture: Including the Apocrypha (Vol. 3, p. 238). New York: The Macmillan Company.
- 3. Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 347). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 4. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Lk 24:50). Biblical Studies Press.