From Gethsemane through Calvary, we can see how Jesus, being fully man, became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:7-9). Because of sin, man owed a debt to God he could not pay, so God became a man to pay man’s debt to God. In the gospel, Jesus was fully God to be our Savior, yes, but He was fully man to be our sacrifice. This is seen in the Centurion declaring, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
I. Luke 23:44-46. First, the curtain that was torn. In Leviticus 16:2-13, Moses was told to tell Aaron that he (and subsequent high priests) was not to just go behind the curtain of the tabernacle (and later the temple) where God’s presence was or he would die. He needed first to make atonement for his own sins and then enter only once a year with blood to atone for the sins of the people. The law was a shadow of the reality to come, however, and the man, Jesus, is the perfect and sinless High Priest that now enters heaven itself through the curtain which is His body with His own blood to perfectly atone for man’s sin once for all (Hebrews 10:1-23). This was the point of the incarnation (Luke 2:10-12; John 1:14-18).
II. Luke 23:46-49. Second, the gentile Centurion. Part of the Roman occupying force, this Centurion, no doubt in charge of a hundred men on crucifixion duty, was carrying out the death sentences for criminals from his superiors and keeping the peace while doing so. A good soldier who did not get involved with the civilian affairs in this foreign land, he likely was used to the pleas and protestations from the condemned and the crowd. Never did he see One like a lamb led to slaughter (1 Peter 1:17-19), and though he knew nothing of the Law or the significance of this great moment he was witnessing for him (Ephesians 2:11-16) or the fulfillment of very old prophecies (Genesis 12:13), this Centurion exclaimed what he did.
III. Galatians 3:11-14. That Jesus would be born to die for our sins though innocent Himself was predicted (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29) and the result explained (2 Corinthians 5:21). We all were dead in our sins (Romans 3:23) and had no way to pay back our debt suddenly had a way through a man’s victory at the cross (Romans 6:23) because Jesus took our curse upon Himself on the tree. He went through a terrible ordeal to do this for us (Psalm 22:1-19), but His work as fully man on the cross resulted in our sacrifice for sins (Isaiah 53:3-8).
Are you, along with the Centurion, certain of this man’s innocence to be the sacrifice for your sins?