This is the day the earth shook. The sky turned dark. Graves opened. The fulcrum of history twisted and groaned on its axis. Sacrifices would be no more. We are now on the other side of this. Christ’s death shattered the Old Covenant. This was history’s continental divide. The final death. The last sacrifice.
Jesus was the ram caught in the thicket for Isaac. He was every bull, every lamb, every dove, every animal ever slain for the sins of the people. Every ounce of blood required to pay off the sins of the whole world seeped into the ground that day around the cross and kept on flowing down the hill of Golgotha out to the rest of the world. It was enough. More than enough. It continues to be enough to pay even for those who won’t take it.
There is a fountain filled with this blood — an endless flow into which any sinner can plunge and come out clean. What is red, but washes white as snow? The blood of Jesus.
If there was anyone who got it that day, standing near the cross, trying to figure out what was really going on, it might have been Nicodemus. As a Pharisee, he would have had access to the prophets and the Psalms of David that pointed to this event. Months earlier, he had met secretly with Jesus and the words of John 3:16 had been burning in his heart ever since. It could have been pounding in his chest that day as he stood and watched: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). And if he was close enough to hear any words from the cross, he might have recognized the words of Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Some think that Jesus might have quoted the whole Psalm that day, and it was just the first line that anyone heard. He certainly could have, because so much of it applied. Maybe Nicodemus heard it…
I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:14-18)
Is that David, or is that Jesus? Certainly it is both of them — David putting words into the dry mouth of Jesus on the cross — words that perfectly describe what He was going through.
Perhaps Nicodemus even said along with one of the Roman soldiers looking on, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”