What Happened On The Cross Of Calvary: Luke 23: 39-49

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Something amazing happened at the Cross of Calvary . It was a real event in the realm of reality, and infinitely more real to God. Only God can save us. If he had not bothered to bring his holy lamb into the world, we would perish for millions of years.

Thank God we have been granted ‘such a great salvation’. The garments of salvation, the most expensive ever made, loomed at Calvary. What God did to save us is unfathomable.

The Cross of Calvary seemed to sum up all the negative forces that depress the human race. But this was not a defeat ; it was omnipotence in action, omnipotence turning every negative into a positive, a supreme act with a supreme result.

Jesus became defenseless to the defenseless, undesirable to the undesirables, and unclean to the unclean; faced death for the dying and horror for the terrified. He suffered injustice for all who were oppressed and gave up his reputation for them.

What happened at Calvary?

Beyond all miracles, the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary was an act of such greatness that the world will never be able to overcome it. Thanks to this act of kindness, many things happened that we will explain throughout this article:


1. The everlasting covenant of grace was fully fulfilled

In the Bible, redemption and salvation are spoken of as the result of an everlasting covenant. The blood of Christ is called “the blood of the everlasting covenant” ( Heb. 13:20 ). This means that His death marks the culmination of the fulfillment of the terms of that covenant. That eternal covenant is revealed between God the Father and God the Son.

In accordance with the terms of this covenant, God the Father chose a multitude of guilty sinners who deserve hell from the fallen race of Adam. The conditions of this covenant were the perfect satisfaction of God’s law and justice, perfect justice, that no sinner could produce even with his best efforts ( Rom. 3:20 ).

Under the terms of this covenant, God the Son agreed to take responsibility for saving all those whom the Father had given him. God the Son had to incarnate, be under the law, to redeem those who were under the curse of the law ( Galatians 4: 4-5 ). He obeyed the law perfectly, even to the point of death on Calvary’s cross, and thus satisfied all the conditions of the everlasting covenant of grace in time.


In this great work, He Himself established for His sheep an eternal righteousness of infinite value by which God the Father could justify the wicked. This is what was finished on the cross of Calvary ( John 17: 4; 19:30 ). Salvation itself did not end, since the multitudes for whom Christ died had not yet been born. The covenant was fulfilled, justice was introduced, the ground of salvation was prepared.

Christ, by himself, for his people, fulfilled all the conditions of the eternal covenant of grace. He secured the salvation of all he represented, all for whom he lived, obeyed, died, and rose again. He will not lose one of them, as his righteousness demands his salvation and ultimate glory. He paid their debt in full and they should receive the benefits of His payment.

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2. The Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled

The entire Old Testament is primarily God’s revelation of His purpose to save sinners, based on the justice of the promised Messiah . From the first revelation of this promise in Genesis 3:15 to the last chapter of Malachi, there is a continuous and progressive revelation of both the Person and the accomplished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

The Old Testament teaches how that sin requires death and justice requires life. But it also teaches that there is no justice among sinful humanity. God had to send His Son to get humanity saved. All the Old Testament sacrifices that were ordained by God were nothing more than types of Christ and salvation based on His Atonement .

Every time a sacrifice was made, God wanted it to teach gospel principles; representation, substitution, satisfaction and imputation, all for Christ, the promised Messiah. All the representations of the Mosaic Law were, in essence, a “schoolmaster to bring [Israel] to Christ, so that the nation might be justified by faith” ( Galatians 3:24 ).

The history of Israel as a nation had no eternal significance except as a revelation of God’s redemptive glory in Christ and as a preparation for the coming of the Messiah to establish justice for His people. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world in the sense that he was appointed before the world was created.

The entire Old Testament pointed to Christ as revealed in the Gospel of eternal salvation and final glory based solely on His righteousness. Every Old Testament believer knew and believed this Gospel of salvation based on the justice of the promised Messiah and awaited his coming.

The New Testament records His first advent and points to the Messiah who has come and has already established a righteousness.

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3. God’s attributes were honored, magnified, and revealed

On the cross of Calvary, God displayed His redeeming glory . This is the revelation and honor of each of the attributes of His holy character. God displays some of His glory in creation, in providence, and even in condemnation, but it is only in the redemption of sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ that we see God’s character attributes consistently working together to accomplish God’s sovereign purpose. to save his people from sins.

This is the highest glory of God. This is the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Creator in the face of Jesus Christ ( 2 Cor. 4: 6 ). In the redemption of sinners based on the righteousness of Christ, we see the holiness, justice, truth, righteousness of God, his hatred of sin, as well as his love, mercy, grace and compassion.

All that God is in His essence, His very Being, was magnified and honored and revealed in this great salvation by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. This shows us three truths:

  1. Christ had to go to the cross of Calvary to glorify his Father in the salvation of sinners.
  2. The only way that God could be glorified as a righteous God and Savior is based on the righteousness of Christ.
  3. The sum of all these attributes of god expresses the way in which god identifies himself as a just and savior god, or as a god who justifies the ungodly.


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The teachings that the sacrifice of Christ leaves us on the cross of Calvary

There are infinities of things that we can learn by analyzing what the sacrifice of Jesus was on the cross of Calvary. Here we explain some of these:


1. The reality of sin

Legally , when we see sin imputed to Christ, we learn that wherever sin is imputed, God’s law must pronounce a curse. God’s law requires death wherever sin is imputed.

Christ did not sin, He knew no sin, He was holy, harmless and without blemish ( Luke 23: 14,41; Heb. 7:26 ). However, when sin was charged to His account, God had to punish it on Him. Morally , when we look at fallen humanity, we see that the essence of sin lies in the fact that fallen men love darkness and hate light. ( John 3: 19-20; 7: 7; Acts 4: 26-28; Heb. 13 ).

Why? It is because “the carnal mind is enmity against God” ( Rom. 8: 7 ). This shows that all men are by nature in a state of guilt, condemnation, contamination, and unbelief, and all their efforts to save themselves are dead works.

But by nature we refuse to believe this, because we do not submit to God’s standard of good and evil, of saved and lost. Fallen humanity judged Christ. We as humanity reveal our hatred of holiness when we crucify the Lord of Glory.


2. The reality of justice

We learn that justice is the standard of judgment for all mankind ( Acts 17:31 ) -At the Judgment, sinners will not be compared to other sinners. They will be compared to Christ, and all who fall short are sinners, and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

We must have a justice that responds to the demands of God’s law and justice, or we will perish. We cannot produce it. God the Holy Spirit cannot produce it through us. God sent Christ to do it, and we must receive it by faith, trusting that He has met all the conditions and that His righteousness is all we need as to the basis of salvation ( Rom. 10: 9-10 ).

We also learn that just as sin demands damnation and eternal death, justice demands justification and eternal life. Just as where sin is imputed, the result must be death, where justice is imputed, the result must be life. Christ died, but did not stay dead. God the Father took him out of grace, because Christ satisfied law and justice.

He paid the debt of his people. He drank dry condemnation for them and provided the ransom price of justice that demands their complete salvation and final glory ( Rom. 4: 23-25 ). The reality of righteousness teaches us that all for whom Christ lived, obeyed, and died must be saved. You cannot lose one of them because you met all the required conditions.

He provided a righteousness that enables a holy and just God to remain holy and just and save sinners. All for whom Christ died will be saved. They will hear and believe the Gospel of God and will repent of dead works. They will come to faith in Christ and repentance.

3. We learn how God saves sinners

The basis of salvation is the righteousness of Christ, all credit is attributed to his obedience and death in favor of sinners. If you approach God for any other reason, you will perish. If you come to God alone on this ground, you will be saved. The instrument for this is the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the means is faith in Christ. This is seen in the example of the thief who was saved ( Luke 23: 42-43 ).

He was a guilty sinner who deserved hell. In Matthew’s account, even this thief mocked Christ at first ( Matt. 27: 41-44 ). If salvation or any part of it had been conditional on one like this, surely it would have perished.

He was effectively carried under the Gospel. He was made to understand who the man on the middle cross was: the Messiah sent by God to save his people from sins. This thief woke up to understand that this Person was the Lord of our Justice. His faith was above the circumstances.

What was this thief with the physical eye?

He saw a defeated, suffering wretch hanging from a cross. He saw a weak and defenseless man (less than a man). What did you see with the eye of faith? He saw the Lord of Glory, the King of kings who would soon come to His mediating kingdom. He saw the Savior.

This thief knew that Christ was fulfilling all the conditions of His salvation. He relied on the righteousness of Christ as his sole basis for it. This is what every sinner needs to see, understand, and believe. God has promised eternal salvation for every sinner ; from a thief on the cross to a religious Pharisee like Saul of Tarsus, who comes to him pleading for the merits of the blood and the righteousness of Christ.


Creation without a cross

To think of creation without the Cross is to have a distorted vision of things. We read about hidden secrets before the foundation of the earth. The Cross in creation is the secret of God, now it has been made known to us. The Cross of Calvary is the inner core of truth. It strengthens the fabric of existence: in Christ all things are held together. It means His arms outstretched at Calvary.

Without that, the world would crumble, evil would break it. God did not throw this round globe into space and forget it. He left the Spirit of God meditating on him and the Cross of Calvary in the hearts of all mankind. This symbol of love is the force of all life and existence, including you and me.

The death of Christ was His greatest achievement and the most beautiful act of God. It was not a mistake, nor a misfortune , nor an accident. Christ was not a martyred victim, but a mighty overcomer, our champion and hero of God. The Father who is in heaven sent him to hunt down and destroy the devil and evil. A bigger David faced a bigger Goliath. The Son of God overthrew our greatest enemy, sin, and our final enemy, death.

Christ is the master of everything. Jesus saves! The hell-destroying work of Christ has opened the heavenly source of resources for all struggling souls. “He who believes in me has life.” To be saved means to be “born again.” “To all who received him, he gave power to become children of God.”

We need the power of God and God needs manpower. Salvation is a joint effort , the Spirit of God wants us not to wait, but to move on. We are “co-workers together with Christ.” God does not need us to run the universe, but he depends on our trust and obedience to him. Let us preach the Gospel and thus fulfill the Great Commission.

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Final Words

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is at the center of human history. It marks the culmination of all the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ on behalf of God’s elect who are by nature guilty, polluted, and depraved. The Bible teaches us that before the foundation of the world God chose a people from the fallen and sinful race of Adam and determined to save them and give them all the eternal blessing and all the inheritance of grace.