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Luke 23:43-56


“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.  And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:  and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.  Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous man.  And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.  And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.  And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:  (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews:  who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.  This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath according to the commandment.”


“Hope you’re here next Wednesday evening, looking at the Resurrection.  Not everyone goes down to the Crusade, so we’ll keep this study going.  You might be reading over Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the Resurrection of Christ.  ‘Father we settle our hearts as we continue, thank you Lord that we can gather publicly, that we can sing your praises, that we have this freedom right now Lord.  And Father, I just am amazed Lord when I think of the people suffering Lord, in the former Yugoslavia, or in the Sudan, Father, Rwanda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran Father, China, just untold millions, Father of people that know nothing of a warm building or a shower or a refrigerator or electric lights, or a clean Sunday [or Sabbath] school room for children, Father, so many believers around the world persecuted.  We have this great and wonderful privilege Lord.  Father, we never mean to take that for granted.  We settle our hearts as we continue.  Thanks Lord, as we can have a great time singing your praises Lord, and then as we study your Word, Lord, we can simply open to the Scripture and forego some of the formalities, and Lord that we can fellowship with each other at the end of the evening in, Father, just a simple way, and straight forward way, we thank you for that.  And Lord as we continue through this record that Luke, Father, penned by your Spirit, I pray that you would give to each of us our portion Lord, do that work Lord, with your Word, as you sow it into our hearts, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’



Jesus Dies On The Cross


Let’s pick up in verse 39, we got down as far as verse 43, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:  but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Now, again, we don’t know all of the transaction that takes place with this one thief, both of them originally railing on Christ.  Somehow this one thief, and we don’t know if it’s sinking into his heart what was taking place.  Again, it seems to indicate, as they were nailing Christ to the cross-beam, that he repeatedly prayed, that’s the language, ‘Father, forgive them, Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing, Lord, forgive them, Father, please forgive them’, that he was praying that over and over again, as the nails were going through his wrists, as they were nailing him, pleading continually with the Father for forgiveness for those who were doing that to him.  And maybe that now is sinking into this thief, no doubt they had to look across Christ to see one another.  So this one thief, the heart softening, changing, finally realizing, ‘Hey, we’re all gonna die, we are gonna die.  And this suffering, this punishment we’re receiving justly, we deserve it.’  That’s confession and repentance.  “But this man hath done nothing amiss”, something happening in his heart so that he can actually turn to Christ and say “Lord,” remarkably, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  And the grammar indicates this man referring to the Kingdom of the Messiah, this man no doubt a Jew.  Though Luke uses the word that means “criminal”, and Mark and Matthew use the word that means he was a robber, not just a thief, but he was a brigand, was a robber.  But he’s a Jew, underneath all of that something’s come to the surface.  Maybe he had a parent when he was young, that read to him the Scripture.  Maybe those things that were sown into his heart as a child were coming back to the surface again at this point in time.  Maybe some parent had prayed, ‘Lord, your Word says raise up a child in the way that he should go, and when he’s older he will not depart from it.’   So Jewish parents had no doubt had been brokenhearted that their son, like many parents are, is a thief, is a robber, is a criminal.  And somehow all of that is coming to bear,  because this phrase “when thou comest into thy kingdom” has Messianic overtones to it in the actual Greek grammar the way this is written.  So he’s a Jew.  And he’s not expecting Christ to say “Today.”  What he’s saying is “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”, talking about the Kingdom Age, whenever that would come, whenever the end of the Age would be.  Jesus remarkably, responds to him and says ‘Truly,’ “verily, I say unto thee, Today” which was a shocking word for this thief to hear, “shalt thou” King James “be with me”, the Greek is “you shall accompany me into paradise.”  ‘Today, you and I will walk arm and arm in paradise, you will accompany me into paradise.’  Remarkable.  Not into purgatory, notice that.  And I say that because it’s not speaking of some limbo, I’m not just talking of a Catholic doctrine, it’s not ‘Today you will be with me in Hades, where we’ll be for three days until we get released.’  Or like Kenneth Copeland teaches, that Jesus went to hell and had to be born-again to get out of it on the third day.  Those of you who grew up in a denominational church recited the Apostle’s Creed, “Crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, descended into hell, on the third day he rose again, from whence he ascended, and sits at the right hand of God.”  That was added at the beginning of the 3rd century.  Originally, that creed said “Crucified under Pontius Pilate, dead, raised again on the third day”, there was no descending there.  He says “Today, you’re going to be with me in paradise.”  [Comment:  I believe there was no punctuation in the original Greek manuscripts.  So the sentence could have read, with the alternate implied meaning, we just don’t know, not enough to hang a doctrine on, as Pastor Joe is trying to do, ‘Verily I say unto thee, today you will be with me in paradise.’  Even taking the Greek grammar into account, it could also be read, ‘Verily I say unto thee today, you will accompany me into paradise.  This does not necessary imply it was “today,” that day on the cross, when that would occur.  If Christ were truly dead, he was not in paradise, in the literal sense, right after he died, in order for him to fulfill being in the grave for three days and three nights.  Within the Body of Christ, there are alternate interpretations.  For example: In John 20:17 Jesus, just after his resurrection says to Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father:  but go to my brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”  This quick trip up the see God the Father fits the Wave Sheaf offering ceremony, where the first piece of harvested grain is waved before the high priest.  If taken literally, this reference by Jesus shows he had not gone anywhere outside of the grave for those three days and three nights, and this would be his first ascension to see God the Father, to have his sacrifice officially accepted, and come back down to be with the disciples for another 40 days.  So there is some room contained within Scripture for alternate interpretations.  That is why I am not dogmatic on these issues.  We will all learn at the 2nd coming of Christ, and at the Wedding Feast just before it anyway.  So let’s not let this stuff divide us.  Another verse to consider:  Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”  This would clearly indicate that until one of the two major resurrections which a person might be in, a dead person has no conscious thought. To read some alternate interpretations about heaven and hell see:]  His last words from the cross are “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  His Father was not in Hades.  So the transaction that needs to take place is completed upon the cross.  Even Calvin said that Jesus went and suffered in flames for three days.  [John Calvin also had another theologian burned at the stake over religious disagreement in doctrine.]  But Jesus, right before he says “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit”, he’ll say “It is finished”, which is the phrase tutelisti, or “paid in full.”  That’s why when people get saved we give out this little booklet, “The Guilt-Trip”, because it tells the whole story behind that phrase, when in a Roman prison, when someone had served a sentence for a crime, on the same day that their sentence was finished, they were finished paying for their crime, they would nail a piece of paper on the door, it said tutelisti, paid in full, completed.  And when Jesus on the cross said “It is finished”, it was done, there was nothing else to do. 


Within These Three Hours of Darkness He Suffered Hell For Us


Now there’s a mystery to it, it’s going to tell us there were three hours of darkness that come on the land, from the sixth hour until the ninth hour all is in darkness.  Matthew, Mark and Luke give us the impression that the whole earth, darkness was over the whole earth.  Now some say ‘Now that’s just speaking of the land of Palestine.’  Well then it would be curious for the authors to put “the whole earth” on that phrase.  And Luke gives us information that it was the sun itself that was darkened.  And if the sun was darkened, then everything on that side of the earth was in darkness.  If it was a problem with the sun, everything was black. And that blackness was there because of God’s judgment taking place on his Son.  It’s like the three days of darkness in Egypt, before the Passover lambs died.  It’s like the darkness at the end of the Great Tribulation, when the sun refuses to shine, and wrath is coming on the earth.  Here in these three hours of darkness something transpired again that we can hardly imagine.  This is when that “cup” that Jesus would ask ‘If there’s any way, let this cup pass’, in those three hours of darkness is when that “cup” was drunk by Jesus.  Revelation 14, it’s the cup of God’s wrath, poured out without mixture, and it says ‘and it’s poured out on those who receive the mark of the beast,’ and it says, ‘and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and forever.’  It was an eternal cup.  [Comment:  An eternal fire, for eternal punishment could feasibly burn out when everything marked for consumption was consumed up, bringing eternal death, the 2nd death, upon those drinking this cup.  This is a widely debated idea within the Body of Christ.]  It’s hard for us to imagine.  Somehow in those three hours of darkness, all of eternity transpired.  He suffered hell for us, but before he was finished on the cross, not after, before.  And it’s hard for us to imagine, my hell, your hell, what we deserve, paid in full, tutelisti.  Somehow, in that darkness.  And it would be out of that darkness that he would cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Up until then it was “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  In that darkness, and from out of that darkness, he cries “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, so that you and I never have to cry that from the darkness, from outer darkness, from hell, from separation, from God.  When it’s paid, he says, it is finished, tutelisti, then it’s “Father” again, “into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  Now then the work was done, and it was once again his Father that he was speaking to.  So we have this interesting time.  Now, there are those who point to Jesus saying, to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “This evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, but no sign shall be given to it, except the sign of the Prophet Jonah, and as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  That was speaking of the tomb.  If he was speaking of descending to Hades, no Pharisee or Sadducee could ever see that, that was no sign at all to them.  They had no idea where his spirit was during those three days.  They never read the last chapter.  They didn’t expect him to be resurrected back to life.  The sign to them was, is that his body was three days and three nights as it were, in the grave.  When he resurrects, the soldiers come to them and tell them, the religious leaders, that an angel rolled away the stone, the tomb is empty, he’s risen.  And then the religious leaders pay them off not to say anything to anyone.  So it isn’t a descending that’s a sign, nobody would see that.  It’s speaking of his physical frame remaining in the tomb for three days and three nights.  Peter in Acts chapter 2 says, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine holy one to see corruption”, quoting David in Psalm 16:10, where David, speaking of himself says to the LORD, ‘Lord, I know, you’ve made known to me the paths of life, and I know you won’t abandon my soul in hell [“hell” Hebrew: Sheol, the grave, six feet under], nor suffer thine holy one [speaking of someone different] to see corruption.’  So Paul, when he quotes the same verse in Acts chapter 13, only quotes the second half, and he says ‘Because you said in your Word you will not suffer thy holy one to see corruption’, applying that half to the body rotting in the tomb.  Ephesians chapter 4 tells us, ‘Who is he that ascended but he that first descended into the lower parts of the earth, and that he led captivity captive.’  Well, descending to the lower parts of the earth, Isaiah speaks of ‘Sing ye heavens, sing ye lower parts of the earth’, and then he says ‘You mountains and trees and hills’, talking about the incarnation.  And it says there that ‘He led captivity’, not captives, but captivity itself, hell and death, sin and the grave.  ‘He led captivity captive’ when he ascended.  Because you see, there are those who put Jesus in some kind of nether-world for three days, where he [supposedly] goes and gets the people in the Old Testament who died in faith, some having him even preaching the Gospel, from 1st Peter chapter 3, verse 19, where it says there that he also went in the spirit, and he preached kerusso, evangelize, it wasn’t the Gospel, ‘he made proclamation to the spirits, not the souls, not pseuche, but numa, to the spirits that were sometimes disobedient while God’s longsuffering waited in the days of Noah.’   It says there, simply, that he at some point in time he descended to the nether world, and made a proclamation, not preaching the Gospel, to the spirits that were disobedient when the longsuffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah, to the fallen angels that tried to stop his coming, he went and made a proclamation of his victory.  But here in this place, he finishes his work on the cross.  He says to the thief, ‘Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.’  Now, for many of you, you’re thinking ‘What in the world is he talking about?’  Well that’s ok.  And some of you are thinking ‘Well I don’t agree with that.’  Well, we’re all entitled to our own distorted opinions.  I’m entitled to mine.  That’s how I feel about it.  I think when he was finished, he was finished.  I think he meant what he said.  I don’t think there was anything to be added to it.  There was no other thing to do.  I think when he was separated he cried ‘My God, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’, the fact that he said ‘why’ to God meant that he was cut off.  That was hell, spiritual separation from God, spiritual death, that’s what hell is.  It was when he cried “why” there was separation for the first time in the trinity, fractured as it were.  Who can ever understand?  But when it was finished, it was again “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  Now imagine this thief.


Back To The Thief


Now what Jesus is saying, ‘You’re acquitted, you’re forgiven.  Today, you’ll be with me in paradise.’  It doesn’t say ‘You need to make your Confirmation first, have you been baptized?  That’s not the sinner’s prayer, ‘remember me, you think I’m just letting you off? there’s four spiritual laws you’ve gotta learn before I let you in.’”  No, no.  The heart, ‘Lord, remember me’, hands nailed down, only his heart can believe, his lips can move, confess.  ‘Today, you will accompany me’, first trophy, New Testament trophy of the Kingdom, ‘Today, you’ll accompany me into paradise’, where those who died in faith were.  Even in the Old Testament, the righteous went up, the wicked went down---Abraham’s bosom, paradise, same place.  [Comment:  Now this is where I’m entitled to my own opinion too, fitting this comment into the previous one I made.  Talking about when a person died, as opposed to when animals die, Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 says, “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them:  as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast:  for all is vanity.  All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”  (verses 18-20)  Now the Bible teaches that there is a spirit component of man and animal within their brains, giving each their allotted and designed level of intelligence and emotions.  Cross reference the next verse to 1st Corinthians 2:11-16.  Now the next verse, verse 21 of Ecclesiastes 3 shows us something unique between what happens with the spirit component of humans, verses what happens to that of the animals, upon death.  And notice that it is the spirit of all human beings who die, that “goeth upward” to heaven, where God resides.  “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”  (verse 21)  The human spirit of all human beings, upon death, “goeth upward” to heaven, where God resides, according the Scripture that I am reading.  I think the sentence structure of Luke 23:43 has to be re-examined, considering there was no punctuation in the original Greek, based on what we read in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21, considering the Bible teaches that the Scripture cannot be broken, and all Scripture must be taken into account to form accurate Biblical doctrine.  So my “opinion” is that verse 43 should read “Verily I say unto thee today, [thou (implied)] shalt be with me in paradise.”  i.e. ‘I’m telling you right now, you will end up with me in paradise [implied, ‘whenever that time should be.’]’]  It was incomplete.  Moses and Elijah come to speak to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Luke says “about your decease”, the word is ‘about your exodus, what you’re about to accomplish in Jerusalem.’  Because they had died in faith, but there was something that was still incomplete about paradise until the ascension [and his ascension didn’t take place until a bit after three days and three nights after Jesus died on the cross].  Because at the ascension, Jesus when he ascends, he takes the body that had been in the grave, that he’s resurrected in, and he ascends with human flesh [now this is debatable, it’s a Calvary Chapel doctrine], with Adam’s genes and chromosomes back into the presence of God for the first time since the Garden of Eden.  That’s when paradise was complete.  That’s what changed, because every one who had died in the faith, when Jesus arrived in his resurrection form, was assured that the day was coming when their bodies would also be resurrected (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54), and they would enjoy the Kingdom Age long promised to all of the Prophets and the Old Testament holy men (and women too J ).  So Jesus at this point, startling.  Now you have to understand, the Jews believed in a general resurrection at the end of time [because the Old Testament prophecies one, in Ezekiel 37:1-14, which when tied to Revelation 20:11-13, describes what the 2nd Resurrection is all about, letting the Bible interpret itself].  They don’t understand anything when Jesus talks about the eknekron, ‘the resurrection out from among the dead’, they all scratch their heads, they never heard of that, ‘What do you mean, resurrection out from among the dead?’  They thought there was one resurrection [because up until Jesus and the New Testament writings, only one was thoroughly described in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 37:1-14), even though the first resurrection to immortality was referred to in a few short Scriptural references in the Old Testament, Job 14:14-15; Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 26:19.]  Daniel 12:1-3 and other places.  So Jesus says to this man, ‘Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.’  That’s great for you to know, isn’t it?  It means if you die today, you’re in the presence of the Lord.  It doesn’t mean your soul sleeps somewhere [unless you take Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 and 9:4-6 into account.  Understand, Calvary Chapels don’t believe in using Ecclesiastes for forming doctrine].  It may sleep in church before you die, but once your body dies it goes straight to the presence of the Lord.  The Bible knows nothing of “soul sleep.”  Elijah, the widow, her son dies.  Elijah, three times lays on top of him, praying for him, and it says the third time, ‘his soul come into him again.’  It had departed to the presence of the Lord.  Revelation chapter 6, the souls of them who were beheaded, under the altar in heaven, crying out to God.  [Comment:  This is a good reason why these doctrines about “soul sleep” verses “soul or spirit-in-man” remains conscious upon death is such a secondary doctrine, because there are unexplained and apparent contradictions that show up, which will be explained to us when Jesus comes again.  The main thing the Bible does teach is that all who die in Christ, along with all the Old Testament saints, will be in the 1st resurrection to immortality, which occurs shortly before Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming.  What does it matter whether your soul, which the Bible more accurately calls “the spirit in man”, remains conscious upon death or not, because the next conscious moment, say your human spirit really is unconscious, would be of you coming up out of the grave in a powerful, glowing immortal body.  No matter which way you believe, there is no reason for doctrinal division over these beliefs.]  Paul, ‘It’s far better to depart and be with Christ, than to remain here.’  Clearly teaches, to be absent from the body, is not to sleep somewhere in the ground, but to be present with the Lord.  So what a great thing for you and I to know, that whenever God does call us, whenever our time, appointed time is, we go immediately into the presence of the Lord.  “I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.’ 


“Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit”


“And it was about the sixth hour,”---high noon”---“and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.” (verse 44)  Not an eclipse, you won’t find anything astronomical to explain it.  It’s a full moon, it’s Passover, it’s a lunar feast, can’t be an eclipse, everything’s in the wrong place.  Darkness over all the earth, and it says why in verse 45, “And the sun was darkened,”  wasn’t just aimed at Israel, the sun itself, refusing to shine.  God’s judgment, eternally, taking place in those three hours, in a way that we’ll never understand.  The sun was darkened, and Luke puts this in here, because it was at the ninth hour when Christ would cry out and yielded up the ghost, “and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”  Now, Jesus on the cross, nailing him to the cross, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  On the cross, he says to this thief, this robber, ‘Today,’ “Verily, I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  He looks to his mother, Mary, standing there at the cross, broken heart, thinking of the words of Simeon and Anna long ago, and he says to her, “Woman, behold, thy son.”  And then he says in John 19 to John, “Behold, thy mother.”  [Jesus leaves no loose ends when he does a job.]  Then, he goes on to say, “I thirst”, then he goes on to say, “It is finished”, tutelisti, paid in full.’  And then it says here that he cries out with a loud voice, look in verse 46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:  and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”  Now he’s crying that out for us, and for those that were standing by.  It wasn’t because the Father was hard of hearing.  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” and it says, “having said thus, he gave up the ghost”, six hours on the cross, six hours, that’s all, the shortest crucifixion on record was 32 hours, from my reading, the longest 13 days, normally the person eaten from the feet up by jackals, or eaten alive by vultures.  Jesus was a man, was not a wimp.  He was a carpenter.  When he wanted to make a door-jam he didn’t go to Home Depot and drive home in his pickup.  He went into the woods and he cut down a tree, and he hacked off the branches, smoothed it out, and lugged home the biggest possible piece he could carry.  When Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate and begs for the body of Jesus, Pilate it says is astounded and sends a soldier to make sure and confirm that he’s really dead.  Because he was a man, he’d seen him whipped and brought into his presence, and beaten, and he knew the frame of Christ, physically, that he was a man.  And he’s saying, ‘How can he be dead in six hours?’  Well it tells us why, because he had finished his work.  There was no sense sticking around then, he had said, “It is finished.”  And he gave up the ghost.  He just released it out of the body.  [Comment:  It is possible, has happened, where a very strong-willed person has willed themselves to die.  The true account recorded in a book titled “The Endless Steppe” documented a teenage girl’s grandmother telling her to get going before the Germans came (western Russia), and then lay down, and willed herself to die, and died peacefully in bed, gave up the spirit.]  No need to stay at that point.  He had completed the work the Father had given him to do.  How remarkable.  Now, they’ve got darkness all over the land, three hours, light comes back again.  It isn’t that the Father couldn’t look at his Son, or the sun up in the sky couldn’t look at the crucifixion, because then it would have been for six hours, he was on the cross for six hours, not for three hours.  It was in those three hours that the darkness came, they were specific hours of judgment.  The sun is darkened, he cries “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”, he gives up the ghost, and then it says “the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”  Matthew and Mark tell us “from the top to the bottom”, it’s the ninth hour, which is three in the afternoon, which is the time of the evening sacrifice.  That’s why Acts chapter 6, verse 7 I believe, tells us that a great many of those in Jerusalem believed, including a number of the priests.  Because there were priests officiating in the Temple at the time of the evening sacrifice.  There’s an earthquake right around this time, the sun had been out for three hours, everybody’s shaken.  The Centurion on the scene will say “Truly this is a righteous man”, “Truly this was the Son of God”, when he sees the things that transpired.  And the veil in the Temple, we know that the doors, Josephus writes, the doors were fifty-five cubits high and sixteen cubits wide.  That’s 24-foot wide, and 80-foot high, the doors.  And he says the inner veil was of equal measurement.  So the veil that was torn from top to bottom was a veil that was 80-foot high, and it was 24-foot wide, and some say that it was woven 8-to-10 inches thick.  And it was torn from the top to the bottom when Christ died.  Now the veil went all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when man sinned, and God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden.  It says he put a cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life, with a flaming sword.  That symbolism is picked up in the Tabernacle as the veil hangs between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, with the cherubim embroidered on there, because it guarded the way to the very presence of God, where the high priest would go once a year on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), behind the veil to pour out the blood of a lamb on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for the sins of the whole nation.  Now, that symbolism, Josephus says is 80-foot high, huge cherubim are embroidered on it, when Jesus dies at three in the afternoon and gives up the ghost, the Father reaches into the Temple, and he takes that veil and he just rips it like a rag, from the top to the bottom.  Imagine this thing, 80-foot high, 24-foot wide, 10-inches think, imagine the noise that that made, ripping from the top to the bottom.  You just know the priests were running out the front door of that Temple.  And it says many of them became believers, because now the way to God is laid open, no more priesthood.  Every man now can go to God.  Jesus died so every single person in this room [or reading this] can have access to God [God the Father, through Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who sits on the right hand of God the Father].  He’s as interested in your life as he is in mine or Billy Graham’s or anybody else’s.  He is as willing to hear from you as he is from Charles Stanley or Billy Graham or anybody else.  He’s as concerned with you as he is with Elijah or Moses or anyone else that ever lived.  He knows your phone number, so if he wants to talk to you he’ll call you, he won’t call me.  He knows your address.  You know people come to me all the time, and they say, ‘Well, what do you think, do you think the Lord wants me to do this thing, wants me to do that?’  You know, if it’s in the Scripture, and you say ‘Hey, do you think the Lord wants me to stop being a drunk?’, well I can say ‘Yea, I would say so here, I’ll show you what he says.’  If I have it in black and white I can say ‘Yea.’  But sometimes they ask ‘Do you think we should move here?’ and I’m thinking ‘You know, I’m having a hard time finding out those things myself.’  I don’t know what they think I know.  You know, I’m in the same struggle saying, ‘Lord, is this you, or is this my flesh, or is this the enemy?’.  You know, I go through those same things.  I mean, there’s very specific things in here [the Bible] about life, and godliness, that we’d be equipped, that we’d know everything we’d need to know.  [Comment:  The Book of Proverbs is loaded, jammed packed with sound Biblical advice on daily living, breaking the Ten Commandments down fine in daily application principles.]  But there is also that leading of God on the individual life, to move or to do something that is not specifically prescribed in here [the Bible].  And the beauty of it is, is the way to God has been opened up completely by the blood of Christ, so that all of us have access, and to go and say ‘Father,’ to come to the throne of grace.  Now you have to be careful, because there are veil-menders.  Don’t hang around with them, they’re legalistic, they’ll trouble you, they’re out there, they try to sow that thing back up again.  And you know, I guarantee within two weeks the priests were there sowing that baby back up again.  There are veil-menders.  Paul speaks of the enemies of the cross of Christ, the enemies of the cross of Christ, because it was there that the price was paid, it was there that the way was opened, for all to have fellowship with God.  It was there that what was lost in Eden in regards to open fellowship with God was purchased for all who will believe.  The veil in the Temple, torn from the top to the bottom, the priests have a lifelong impression on their lives as they run out that day.  “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice,”---and the cry is ‘tutelisti, it is finished’ and---“he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”, to commend means to entrust, to commit to.  Can you say that this evening?  When it comes time for you to close your eyes in this world, can you say ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Lord I put my life in your hands’?  Because as soon as you close your eyes in this world, you will open them in the next.  [Comment:  And for those who believe in “soul sleep”, that the spirit-in-man remains unconscious after death, until the Resurrection to immortality, the next waking moment you’re aware of you’ll be in God’s Kingdom, rising up to meet the returning Christ.  There is no awareness of the passage of time when your human spirit is “unconscious.”  So his statement is true also if “soul sleep” happens to be true.  Either way, the end result is the same, so it’s not really worth being divided over how we believe in this totally secondary aspect of Bible doctrinal interpretation.  Believe either way, doesn’t matter in the long run, ‘When’, as the song says, ‘we’ve been with him for ten thousand years…’]  And like the two thieves, it will be in one place or the other, both of them the same length from the Saviour.  That day Jesus said to the one thief, ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise.’  Well that same day, today, the other thief went to hell.  Both thieves, both are guilty, both deserving hell, only difference is, one says ‘Lord, forgive me, remember me, have mercy on me.’  Nothing else, didn’t do penance, didn’t work his way to heaven.  Faith, ‘Today, you’ll be with me in paradise.’  I hope, you know, that you can just say that to the Lord at the time of death.  And look, you know, I’m sure there’s some anxiety at that point, I’ve never done it before.  It would be different if I’d done it five or six times, and you could just say to somebody, ‘Hey, this will just blow your mind, wait till you see what happens!’.  No.  And I’m sure when I close my eyes in this world and open them in the next and Lord says ‘Enter in, well done thou good and faithful servant’, I’m going to go ‘Wheh!’.  I’m sure there’s a certain, you know, just like doing anything we’ve never done before.  But it’s faith.  The Bible says that “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you”, and that’s what happens when we’re born-again, born anew, that his Spirit comes in and we’re born of God, “shall also quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (cf. Romans 8:11 , that we’re also promised and guaranteed resurrection, so that we can do the same thing, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:

   and having said that he gave up the ghost.”  (verse 46) [See]0


Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus Prepare Jesus’ Body and Put It In The Tomb


“Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.” (verse 47)  And evidently out of his mouth will also come “Truly this was the Son of God.”  Verse 48, “And all the people that came together” notice this, it’s interesting, “to that sight,” isn’t it interesting?  What an interesting sight it must have been, because you have to realize, they don’t have any street lamps.  Jesus is crucified at 9 in the morning.  At 12, at high noon, those of you who have been in Israel with us, you know high noon in the Middle East, man, that sun is bright.  High noon at the place of crucifixion the sun goes Voom! and it’s black.  And you know they didn’t move anywhere.  3 O’clock in the afternoon, Voom! the sun comes back on again.  I mean, out of the darkness they heard “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  And somewhere in there, at 3 O’clock the lights get turned up again.  God reaches over to the sun, turns up the wick.  And then they look up at the cross and he says “I thirst.”  And a minute later he says “It is finished.”  And no doubt their mouths were hanging open.  And he looks to heaven and he cries “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” and voom! gives up the ghost and is gone [dead], and then there’s an earthquake, the veil in the Temple tears.  “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.” (verse 48)  “To that sight”, now that’s quite a sight.  As they’re leaving they’re beating their chests, which is a sign of repentance and remorse, smote their chests, what impressions must have been made.  No wonder, three thousand people [were instantly called at Pentecost, 50 days later], you know God had plowed up the ground when Peter preaches on Pentecost, and then again several days later 5,000 more [were called and came to faith].  How word must have spread, what a sight it must have been, what talk there must have been about three hours of darkness starting at high noon over Jerusalem---why the guys on the Road to Emmaus said ‘Are you a stranger here, you don’t know the things that have been done in these last few days in Jerusalem!?’  Why Paul would say to Herod Agrippa, ‘This thing wasn’t done in a corner, you know all about this.’  “And all his acquaintances and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.  And behold,”---consider, that’s what “behold” means---there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor;”---a member of the Sanhedrin, and I believe one of the other Gospels says that he was a royal counsellor, or a noble counsellor, it seems to put a certain mark on his position in the Sanhedrin, and if it is what is seems like it’s saying, there were only fourteen of them in the history of the Sanhedrin.  So here’s Joseph of Arimathea, a very prominent place.  We’re told, I believe in John, that “he had been a disciple secretly”, you know it’s in John, “for fear of the Jews.”  Because in John chapter 9, in the Temple in Jerusalem, they had decided, the Sanhedrin had decided, anyone that had anything to do with this carpenter from Galilee would be put out of the Temple, excommunicated from Israel.  Now that’s much worse than you think, that means that you can’t get a job, it means you don’t get your family inheritance, it means they would sit Sheva for you, you’d be ostracized, cut off from your family, treated like you were dead.  We have little understanding of what that means.  Joseph of Arimathea had been a disciple, it says, but secretly, for fear of the Jews.  But at this point, no doubt, seeing the things that transpired.  And we find out that in this process, he’s talking with Nicodemus [cf. John 3] too.  Because Nicodemus will come with him on this day.  Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate and begs for the body of Christ, putting his own life at stake in the presence of Pilate, and then also giving up all of his wealth and everything that he had in regards to his heritage in Judaism.  Something had transpired in his heart.  He brings the linen cloths, Nicodemus brings a hundred pounds of spices to the body.  This is a remarkable scene.  “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just; (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;)”---he hadn’t been in agreement with them, with the crucifixion, what they did to Christ---he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews:  who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.  This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.”---he pleaded is what it says, with Pilate.  And then Pilate would send soldiers to make sure that Jesus was dead.  When they came to the three, it says that they broke the thighs of the two thieves.  Because when they’re on the cross they would have to push up to breath in.  So if they wanted to bring a quick death, they would take these huge mallets and break the thigh bone, right through here, so that that person couldn’t push up and they would suffocate.  So the two thieves, their thighs are broken.  When they come to Jesus it said he’s already dead.  The soldier will put a spear in his side to see, and it says blood and water come out, his heart is ruptured, he’s dead.  And it says, “so the Scripture might be fulfilled, Not a bone of him was broken.”  But imagine, it’s just one thief, he just got saved.  Some people think when they get saved everything is going to get easier.  [Comment:  the Bible says somewhere else that we’re to “count the cost.”]  Not that day, not till the end of the day, anyway---“who himself waited for the kingdom of God.  This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre wherein never man before was laid.”---listen, “he”, Joseph of Arimathea, “took it”, the body of Jesus “down”, and the grammar indicates, it doesn’t indicate that he took the cross-beam down.  That’s the way Jesus was put up.  It seems to indicate that he somehow got the nails out of the cross-beam [my guess, with a horseshoe nail puller], and took the body of Jesus down.  He took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone “wherein never a man before was laid.”  So, from a virgin womb to a virgin tomb, Jesus, in both of those his Father honoring him.  Imagine this, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus now, come, and what a sight, standing at the foot of the cross saying ‘How are we going to get him down?  the second we touch his body, all the blood running down his back, we’ll be unclean, it’s going to interfere with our celebration of the Passover.‘  Nicodemus must be looking up at the cross thinking about his interview with Jesus when Jesus said ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up...but whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life...for God so loved the world that he sent his Son into the world, that whosoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life...the Son has come into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might have life.‘  Imagine Nicodemus looking at that, ‘as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,‘ what was going on in his heart and his mind?  Joseph of Arimathea, you know, had they looked at Isaiah 53, had Joseph of Arimathea said, ‘With the wicked’  Isaiah 53:9, ‘and the rich in his death...‘  Had Joseph of Arimathea thought, ‘Lord, could you have written Isaiah about me, and about my tomb?‘  What was it like for him to take the nails out of the hands?  And you know if you try to wrestle your kids somewhere and they just go limp, what it’s like trying to lift dead weight.  What was it like for Joseph of Arimathea, knowing Isaiah 53, to be taking the nails out of that hand, holding up the body, and have the body of Christ, “it” it’s called here, dead weight, limp, wet with blood, hanging across his shoulder, arms out of joint, face as Isaiah said, “more marred than that of any man.”  ‘Lo, they have ripped my beard out of my face’, how the Word must have washed over him.  “He was esteemed smitten and stricken of God...To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  who has believed our report?  There was no beauty in him that we should desire him...”, you know, just going through Isaiah 53.  “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquity.”  How incredible, I just can’t imagine, they took that body down, they sponged it down, they washed it, they washed off the wounds.  They had never celebrated a Passover like that before, or after.  Joseph of Arimathea, wealthy, no doubt wealthy like Howard Hughes, because he had a tomb, and it indicates carved in the side of a rock in the side of a cliff.  And that was not with jack-hammers, they didn’t blast.  That was done with human beings with hammers and chisels carving that thing out, wealthy man.  And he lays Jesus in his own tomb.  Interesting, certainly to go to Gordon’s Calvary when you go to Israel to see the tomb they discovered there, a trough in front of it where the stone, where a stone had rolled.  Three places inside, enough room for twenty-six people to stand inside, but then there’s three places prepared for bodies, but only one of them is finished, the other two were never finished.  So something happened in that tomb that caused the owner of it never, he held it sacred, he never finished it.  But the one place there was a body, there’s a place by the head and by the foot where the angel could sit, a place where the napkin could be rolled up and placed there that was around his head.  Very interesting to go there and see that, and to see in that garden, Koreans singing the worship songs and melodies, you can’t understand the words, to see people from India and Pakistan, to hear the Germans there (all the Germans wear their hats, they always do everything in order, they all have the same hats on to keep the group together), but to hear them singing hymns that we know and love.  And just to stand there at that empty tomb and to look at people, and you can’t understand the language they’re speaking, but their eyes smile, tears are running down their face, and they look at you, and you know in their eyes they’re saying “He is not here, he’s risen.”  And it’s what it says on the door there, “He is not here, he is risen.”  What an amazing thing....[tape switchover, some text lost]...[He’s the] center of everything that we believe.  And you have to realize, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus never read the 24th chapter of Luke [up to this point in time], they didn’t read the end of the story.  They’re taking the body down at that point in time.  In there minds, ‘Is he a prophet?‘  Were they expecting resurrection?  He was certainly the suffering servant of Jehovah, from Isaiah 53.  No doubt they mused over those verses and wrestled with those things in their hearts.  Whatever it was they saw in him, they were willing to relinquish their position in Israel, and amongst their families, and their wealth and their inheritance.  Whatever it was that they saw, and we need to figure that out, because whatever they saw, and they didn’t see as much as we do, they were willing to give up everything to follow him, to deny themselves and take up their cross.  And how the Lord beckons us to do the same thing.  ‘He went to Pilate to beg the body, he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone wherein never man before was laid.‘  And the way they would wrap them is they would lay big part of the cloth down, the body would be laid down on top of it, and they would flop that linen over their head, down to their feet.  There was one cloth that went around the head, and held their jaw shut so it wouldn’t fall open.  There was a cloth that went around their feet, around their arms.  They weren’t wrapped with wrappings, that’s Egypt, that’s a mummy.  You read in the Encyclopedia Judaica it tells you it was with a linen cloth, and there were certain winds around the feet, around the arms, to keep the body in position, and there was one cloth that went around to keep the jaw shut under the cloth.  But they weren’t wrapped like a mummy, the Egyptians did that.  So Jesus, laid in this cloth, much like the swaddling cloths, the same word, as when Mary wrapped him in a swaddling cloth and laid him in a manger [manger: stone feeding trough], and laid in Joseph’s new tomb.  It was only for the weekend.  He got his tomb back. 


Roman Guard Unit Is Assigned To Guard The Tomb


“And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.” (verse 54) [Comment:  This “sabbath” that’s being talked about in verse 54 is a Holy Day, what the Jews termed as a High Sabbath, it was the First Day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th Nisan.  Log onto to read a harmony of the four Gospels that shows the timing elements of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.]  “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” (verses 55-56)  And they made preparation to return again on Sunday, the first day of the week. [or after this High Sabbath, which would have been a Thursday.  There is a slight disagreement over which day they actually intended to come back with more spices.  It’s a mute question anyway, because the strong Roman guard of 16 soldiers wouldn’t have let them anywhere near the tomb anyway.]   Now you have to understand, read ahead, but read Matthew’s account.  Because what the women don’t know, they see that the stone is rolled in front of the door of the tomb.  They do know that. They leave for the Sabbath, to return on Sunday, the first day of the week with spices and ointments.  What they don’t know is that the religious leaders, on the Sabbath, have gone to Pilate, and a Roman Guard [Unit] has been placed there.  If they know there was a Roman Guard [Unit] there, they would not have returned.  In the Roman Guard there were sixteen men.  And our Special Forces and Green Berets, so forth, today use some of the things that Rome required of their Special Forces.  This Guard had sixteen men.  All of them carried a sword, a dagger, and a lance.  All of them could hit a man at a certain distance [with a sling-stone].  The ropes were put across that stone, it was sealed.  And if that seal was broken, they would find that man and kill him.  If they couldn’t find the man, and they found his village, they would crucify everybody in the village upside down, if you broke that seal.  If one of the Roman soldiers in that sixteen-man Guard fell asleep, and a commanding officer came, all sixteen of them were put to death.  So if you’re on that Guard and you see somebody falling asleep, you wake them up.  What they would do is set those little skirts on fire, those little skirts that the Romans wore underneath those metal things.  If you found a guy falling asleep, they would take a stick from the fire and set the skirt on fire.  That’s why it says in Revelation “keep they garments”, ‘don’t sleep, but keep your garments.‘  It was an allusion to Roman Guards, because you wanted to teach that guy never to sleep, and that would teach him I guess, never to fall asleep.  And that would teach him, I guess, never to fall asleep again.  Now, the interesting thing is, we don’t have it in Mark, Luke or John, what transpired early in the morning [three days and three nights after his burial].  Only Matthew tells us.  Because Matthew was a tax collector.  And Matthew, when he collected taxes, with a Roman soldier behind him with a full-length spear, which was a symbol of the power and authority of Rome, and Matthew for years was in cahoots with the Romans.  So Matthew is the one alone who has the connections to find out what we have in none of the other Gospels, that that Roman Guard was there, and an angel descended from God out of heaven, who was shining like the sun, and that the angel rolled away the stone.  Not to let Jesus out, but to let us in.  And that the keepers, when they saw the angel, fell down, it says, it says they fell down, they were quaking like dead men.  I don’t know how dead men quake, that is a dead man who is really scared, was a dead man and shivering [all sixteen of them were].  It says they fell down and were shaking on the ground.  And they ran away from that place, and they went to a priest.  You know they were scared, they didn’t go to the Roman governor, they found a priest.  And they told the Jews what had happened.  They [the Jewish religious leaders] gave them a certain amount of money and said ‘We’ll cover for you.‘  They should have been put to death.  But the high priest and the Sanhedrin said, ‘If anybody asks, say his disciples came and stole his body.  We’ll cover you with Pilate, we’ll get you out of hot water.‘  Very interesting night indeed.  I encourage you to read Matthew’s account, and then when we come back next week we’ll start picking up here in Luke and looking at Resurrection morning.  Ah, I’m looking forward to that.  When I look at the Resurrection, you know, it says that he will fashion our bodies like unto his glorious body in the resurrection [to immortality, cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54.  See ].  And Jesus stepped through the walls, when the disciples were locked up together, he just steps into the room, he just steps into the room, from wherever he is.   I like that.  His blood is drained out, so it’s not blood-drive, it’s spirit-drive, new body, new model, no doubt traveling at the speed of thought, which is much faster than the speed of light.  I‘m looking forward to that.  You can eat if you want to, if you don’t want to you don’t have to.  Everything’s low-cal, no gaining weight.  You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to, no fatigue, no sickness, no sorrow, no curse, no death, new body, serve the Lord.  And again, I get the impression as I study Scripture, you know, people ask ‘Well kids, that went to heaven when they were babies, will they babies for eternity?  My wife died in her third trimester, will she be pregnant forever?‘  I don’t think so, I don’t think so.  Adam was an adult on the day he was created.  Eve was an adult on the day that God fashioned her from Adam.  Joseph was thirty years old when he began to reign over Egypt, David was thirty years old when he took the throne.  [And Levitical priests don’t start serving in Temple service until their thirtieth birthday.]  So many of the Levites, thirty years old when they entered in on their ministry to a certain degree.  So, I get an idea, I’d like to be thirty again, I’m 48, I can remember that, it was good, you know.  [Joe’s now about 63, in 2013]  I study the Scripture, I think 30-something’s not a TV show, it’s an eternal state, and I’m kind of looking forward to that.  What are you looking forward to?  You know, if you’re here tonight, and you don’t know Christ, or maybe you’re sitting here and thinking ‘This guy is a screw-ball.  I can’t believe my friends come here, this is a cult.‘  Well this is the, “I Don’t Want To Play Church Anymore, And I’m Glad I’m Saved and Going to Heaven, Jesus Cult.”  [applause]   That’s what it is.  And I have to believe that somewhere in your heart you feel the same way.  You don’t want anything phony.  You don’t want to play church, you don’t want to play religion.  Because none of that does anybody any good.  When the doctor says ‘Hey, your cancer tests are positive, or your bloodwork is positive, you have AIDS’, or, ‘We’re giving you three months to live.’  Playing church or playing religion doesn’t do anybody any good at that time.  The real issue is life and death.  The real question is, Is he really risen from the dead?  Or did he in fact lay in the tomb, his physical body for three days and three nights, and on the third day rise to life again?  The viewings are so strange, imagine somebody dead for three days and then getting up, and coming back.  That’s what this is all about.  Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.  And the hope that then we can have, that in fact his death meant something.  If he had the power to rise, paid for our sins.  The fact that he rose said that the Father accepted that payment.  Do you have that hope?  Or when you die, are you able to say “Father,” or when you look up to heaven are you going to say “God, are you really there?”  Or “Are you the great Oooohm, the great vibration up there?”  Or are you going to say “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”, ‘Father, in your hands, I put my life in your hands, and step through the veil, and see you face to face.‘  If you can’t do that, then you need to accept Jesus as your Saviour.  The Bible says, I’m going to have the musicians come...[transcript of a connective expository sermon given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


Related links:


Who, What Was Jesus Christ?  See:


A harmony of the Gospels covering the last six days of Jesus life.  See:


Our destiny as believers.  See:


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