Jesus’ mother, Mary, had followed him to the cross and stayed by him during his ordeal. Among those who comforted her were John and three women: Mary’s sister Salome, who was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the apostles James and John; another Mary, who was the wife of Clopas and the mother of James and Joses; and another Mary, who came from the town of Magdala in Galilee and was known as Mary Magdalene. These women had at first stood away from the cross, but later came and stood nearby (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:49; John 19:25-27).
From the time the soldiers began the crucifixion to the time Jesus died was about six hours (cf Mark 15:25,33). During the last three hours (from noon to 3 p.m.) a strange darkness covered the land, as the wrath of God against sin fell upon Jesus. For this reason he was separated, for the only time, from the Father with whom he had enjoyed unbroken fellowship from all eternity. Sin separates from God, and in bearing the penalty of sin, Jesus experienced that desolation (Matt 27:45-49; Luke 23:44-45).
Nevertheless, at the very time he suffered such desolation, Jesus was in harmony with his Father’s will. He wanted his final words to his Father to be loud enough for all to hear, and therefore he asked for something to moisten his dry mouth. The words he spoke made known to all that he was placing his spirit in his Father’s hands. His final cry of triumph, ‘It is finished’, confirmed that even in his death he was still in control. No one took his life from him; he gave it up in a voluntary, unique act. He had completed the work that his Father sent him to do (Matt 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:28-30).
At the moment of Jesus’ death (about 3 p.m.) there was an earthquake in the Jerusalem area. In the temple the curtain that blocked entrance into the symbolic presence of God was torn in two. It was a striking demonstration that Jesus had brought the Jewish religious system to an end and opened the way for all into God’s presence. The earthquake also caused graves to break open, and certain believers of the old era were raised to life, indicating dramatically that Jesus’ death was the way to final triumph over death itself (Matt 27:51-53; cf. 1 Cor 15:20-26; Heb 2:14-15).
Another truth illustrated by the remarkable events connected with Jesus’ death was that he was the true Passover lamb. He died on the afternoon of Passover day, at the same time as the Jews back in Jerusalem were killing their lambs in preparation for the meal that night. And because he was the true Passover lamb, not a bone in his body was broken. Normally, the soldiers broke the victims’ legs to hasten their death, but they had no need to do this to Jesus, because he was already dead. Instead, one of the soldiers plunged his spear deep into Jesus’ body (John 19:31-37).
In contrast to the lack of feeling shown by most of the soldiers, the centurion in charge of the execution was filled with wonder at what he saw. He was convinced that Jesus was all he claimed to be (Matt 27:54; Luke 23:47).
Others also changed their attitudes to Jesus because of the events at Golgotha. Many who had come from Jerusalem as spectators returned in sorrow and fear, wondering what it all meant (Luke 23:48).