When Jesus died, his life was not taken… it was given.
Even in the last statement Jesus makes on the cross, we can see this. Jesus calls out in a loud voice... which doesn’t sound like the way one responds after being beaten, being exhausted, and on the verge of death. And in his own words he says, “I commit my spirit.”
Jesus isn’t saying, I’ve lost. He isn’t saying I can’t make it anymore. He’s giving up his life. The irony is that in the events of the day, in the suffering, in the rejection, in the hurt and the pain - it was never ultimately up to any of the people who hurt Jesus - it was up to him.
Even in the statements about Jesus mocking him by saying, “Come down from the cross.”
He could’ve come down. But he doesn’t; because in giving of himself he saves us.
Luke makes some fascinating statements directly preceding and following this statement. Jesus says his final words in a moment of complete darkness and when the curtain of the temple is torn in two.
In a moment of darkness, the one who was the light of the world gives up his life. In a moment of darkness, the one who brings light to the dark places dies. After a curtain was torn. A curtain which separated the Most Holy Place from anybody else. A curtain which was only entered once a year on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice.
Right after that, Jesus says “I give my life.” “I commit my spirit.” Jesus makes a new Day of Atonement, this time once and for all. Jesus is the final, complete, and ultimate sacrifice.
And then Luke records how people respond. Luke records that the centurion, “when he saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying “Certainly this man was innocent.” The centurion in the midst of the days events came to realize that Jesus did not get what he deserved but what we deserve.
Luke also records, “And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.” People were gathered at the foot of the cross not because they were sorrowful, but for entertainment.
The crowds gathered for a spectacle but left with a savior.
They came mocking and spitting, putting Jesus on the cross. And they left realizing that it was their sins that held him there. On the cross, mockers are made followers. Criminals are turned into worshippers. Slaves are called sons and daughters. Spectators are made saints.