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Jesus’ Death and the Moments After

Matthew 27:50-56; Mark 15:37-41; Luke 23:46b-49; John 19:30b

Victor M. Eskew




A.    In our previous lesson in our series entitled:  “The Sayings of the Crucifixion,” we left Jesus after he spoke His seventh utterance:  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).


B.      In this lesson, Jesus will die.  Too, we will consider some of the things that are revealed that happened just moments after Jesus breathed His last breath.


I.                   THE SPIRIT’S SEPARATION


A.    All four gospel writers record the death of Jesus.

1.      Matthew writes:  “Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost” (Matt. 27:50).

2.      The other three writers tell us that Jesus “gave up the ghost” (Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46b; John 19:30b).


B.      The body of Jesus was still hanging on the cross by the nails.  But, the “ghost” departed from Him.

1.      Ghost:  the Greek word is “pneuma”

a.      Strong (4151):  a current of air, that is, breath or breeze, spirit, that is, human (the rational soul)

b.      Thayer:  the spirit, the vital principle by which the body is animated

2.      The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the breath of Jesus simply left His body.

3.      This, however, does not explain Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross who repented.  Jesus told him:  “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). 

a.      It could not be merely a state of sleep for the impenitent thief was going to experience that as well that day.

b.      Jesus was referring to being in a state of consciousness after death in a realm called Paradise.

4.      Thus, death is the separation of the spirit from body (Eccl. 12:7).


Then shall the dust return unto the earth as it was:  and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.


C.     There were two essential purposes for Jesus’ death.

1.      First, death would perfect or complete Him as a human being.

a.      All men must die (Heb. 9:27).


And as it is appointed unto men once to die…


b.      To be fully human, Jesus had to die (See Heb. 5:8-9).


Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.


2.      Second, He had to literally die to pay the price for sin.

a.      Ezekiel 18:20

The soul that sinneth, it shall die…


b.      Since man was involved in sin, someone had to die.  Jesus died for us (I Thess. 5:9-10).


For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.


II.                THE DIVINE DEMONSTRATIONS (Matt. 27:51-53; Mark 15:38)


A.    There are three divine demonstrations that took place following the Lord’s death.


B.      Matthew is the only writer who mentions all three.  Mark mentions one.  Luke and John do not mention them at all.


C.     Two happened immediately.

1.      “And, behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom…” (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38).

a.      The veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

b.      Only the High Priest was allowed to go into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.

c.       There were two purposes in the tearing of the veil.

1)      To show that the Law was taken out of the way (Col. 2:14).

2)      To manifest that a new and living way was now open into the Holy of Holies in heaven (Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19-22)


Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.


d.      NOTE:  It was torn from the top to the bottom, indicating that God did the tearing and not man who would have torn it from the bottom to the top.

2.      “…and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matt. 27:51).

a.      The city of Jerusalem sits up seven hills.

b.      The crucifixion took place on the hill called Golgotha or Calvary.

c.       The words of the text do not manifest the power that was displayed.

d.      Earthquakes usually strike terror into the hearts of those who experience them.

1.      How strong was it?  We are not told.  We are told that the rocks were rent due to the earthquake.

2.      How long did it last?  We are not told.

3.      Jerusalem and the surrounding area were notified that God was aware of the death of His precious Son


D.    One event mentioned by Matthew would not happen until after the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27:52-53)


And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.


1.      We are not given the identities of these individuals.

2.      We are told they went into Jerusalem and appeared unto many.

3.      We will come back to this text when we cover the resurrection of our Lord.




A.    A centurion is a soldier in the Roman army charged with the oversight of one hundred men. 

1.      These men were officers, but were in the “thick” of military life.

2.      This centurion’s duties involved carrying out the Roman crucifixion.


B.      This man witnessed everything that happened that day.

1.      The crucifixion

2.      The sneers of the mob

3.      The sayings of Jesus

4.      The thick darkness that came on the land

5.      The death of Jesus

6.      The earthquake that shook the earth.


C.     When all was over, he came to two very important conclusions.

1.      Luke records one conclusion (Luke 23:47)


Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.


a.      The centurion saw something that convinced him that Jesus was an innocent man.

b.      Not one person had said this since Pilate acknowledged it during the trial.

c.       It is sad to see an innocent man who has been put to death.

2.      The second conclusion of the centurion was even greater (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39).


Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.


a.      This man had probably witnessed numerous crucifixions.

b.      None, however, could be likened unto this one.

c.       He heard Jesus’ loud cry just before He died.  He felt the earthquake under his feet.

d.      To him, Jesus was not just righteous, He was also the Son of God.

3.      It is sad that a Roman centurion came to these conclusions and not one of the Jews who authored his crucifixion came to these conclusions.




A.    Matthew just referred to those who were with the centurion.  Most likely this would have been the soldiers under his command.


B.      Luke seems to refer to all of the other people who had been witnesses of the crucifixion from Jerusalem and the surrounding area (Luke 23:48).


And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.


C.     We have labelled their actions with two words.

1.      Pride

a.      These individuals had desired the Lord’s death.

b.      They were the ones mocking Him at the foot of the cross.

c.       It appears that they endured the entirety of the day.

d.      Did they smite their breasts in a sort of victory gesture now that Jesus was dead?

e.       In their minds Jesus’ death completely nullified any of His claims. 

f.        They leave hoping that life can now get back to some normalcy.

2.      Perplexity

a.      Did these individual smite their breast out of fear and grief?

b.      They had witnessed the darkness, then the earthquake at Jesus’ death.

c.       Could it be that they were deeply concerned about what had taken place now that Jesus was dead?  Some of them may have heard Jesus and witnessed His miracles during His ministry in Palestine.

d.      All they could do not is return to their homes.


V.                THE WOMEN’S WITNESS (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-51; Luke 23:49)


A.    Luke’s account is the most brief of the three (Luke 23:49)


And all his acquaintance, and the woman that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.


B.      Matthew reveals three specific women who were present (Matt. 27:56).

1.      Mary Magdalene

2.      Mary the mother of James and Joses

3.      The mother of Zebedees’s children, that is, Salome according to Mark (Mark 15:40).


C.     Mark adds more women to the list (Mark 15:41).


…and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.


D.    Two thoughts about these women.

1.      They were faithful followers of Jesus. 

2.      These women did not desert Him in those final hours. 

a.      They endured.

b.      They witnessed both the horrible and the magnificent.

c.       They were with the Christ as He died.

d.      Thought:  How many times did Jesus look out on the crowd to see these woman afar off?

1)      They could not physically to anything.

2)      All they could offer Jesus was their loving and compassionate presence.


E.      NOTE:  Women often form the backbone of the Lord’s church.  Many of them can be relied upon when men cannot be found.




A.    Jesus is finally dead.


B.      The crowds have dispersed and returned home.


C.     Now it is essential to get Jesus down from the cross and bury Him before the Holy Day begins at 6:00 p.m.