Jesus has been on the cross for at least three hours, likely more. His body has reached the end of its endurance. I have briefly described the torture and torment suffered by this man since the early hours of the morning. Not only has he suffered at the hands of men, not only has he been exposed to the elements, not only has he heard the taunts and mocking of those who falsely accused him before the Religious and Roman court, but even his God forsook him. How many people could stand, could endure the complete abandonment faced by Jesus? Yes, his mother was there and at least of few people he knew who loved him. They were a small contingent surrounded by a mob who did not care for him, who were doing their job executing him, or who wanted him dead. Those who loved him gave some comfort but not to his body. They could not. Jesus was truly alone on the cross when he died.
All four documents are witnesses to the death of Jesus on the cross. Matthew and Mark tell us Jesus “cried a loud cry” [Mark 15:37 ESV] or “cried out again with a loud voice” [Matthew 27:50 ESV] before dying. Luke, relying on eye-witnesses to the events to tell us the words of Jesus gives us a long statement, especially long for someone exhausted from such an ordeal. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” [Luke 23:46 ESV]! I can hear him uttering these words in short, rasping, guttural cries. God, who had abandoned him, as he exclaimed just moments earlier, did not cease being God to him. This statement carries a number of assumptions which can be discovered and determined only by examining the life and ministry of Jesus.They cannot be ignored nor explained away. There is no reason to suggest Jesus did not cry this statement just before he died.
Finally, as he dies, for he truly dies, Jesus utters one more word. “Finished” [John 19:30 ESV] or “completed.” There is more to the word than a declaration the torture is over, the suffering is done, and they can do nothing else to his body. This word carries the meaning of a debt which has been completely paid in full. His job is done. His task is complete. His reason for coming is fulfilled. He has nothing left to do. These are the implications of this last word.
And, Jesus died.
He did not swoon, descending into a coma or catatonic state, immobilized yet retaining even the vaguest spark of life. He died. His death is a real death. There is no evidence suggesting he did not die. Jesus the person died on the cross. When he breathed his last his body died. There was no possibility of rescue. Those Roman soldiers standing around guaranteed his death. They would let no one rescue him. When they put him on the cross there was only one possible outcome. He would die. How long it would take is irrelevant. Some have lasted days on a cross. Jesus lasted hours. He died.
“Finished.” Before Jesus is resurreected he first died.