The gospel writers all give varying accounts of this although none of them conflict with each other. Matthew records more of a what happened after Jesus’ death account. The one things to remember is that Jesus had at that time been hanging on the cross from noon to three in the afternoon in darkness. No solar eclipse lasts that long, nor does weather explain the problem. This is not a land for sudden thunderstorms. This is supernatural darkness. Jesus then puts an exclamation point on the whole day with how he dies.
Jesus first announces he is thirsty but also yells about how God has forsaken him. The people respond by giving him sour wine and misinterpreting what he said. One needs to understand that Jesus is speaking pure Hebrew at this point and the people at the time spoke Aramaic so it would like us hearing someone speak our language from four hundred years before. It would be like me being dropped in 17th century colonial America and trying to communicate. I might get some of it but not all. They think he is calling for Elijah. Finally Jesus cries “It is finished! Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” and he dies.
At the moment of his death many things happen. 1) There is an earthquake, 2) the temple veil was torn top to bottom, 3) tombs are opened and people come back to life that will testify to the resurrection of Christ after Jesus is raised from the dead a few days in the future. All of these events have their own significance in expressing one thing – the grief of god over the death of his Son. But also they testified far louder to those that watched that Jesus was more than just a false claimant at being Messiah. This was something the centurion could not ignore.
The message and action of God in the death of his son is clear. Redemption has been bought, Gods grief as he tears the only clothes he has on earth (the veil in the temple) buy your and my way into the holy place. This moment has brought to us the once and for all sacrifice that is superior to the blood of sheep and goats. The cross has now become the avenue to forgiveness and fellowship with God.
It is in this spirit that so many of the writers of the New Testament with follow. Over and over is the notion of that if God paid such a great price for our redemption, then our most reasonable action in response is to present ourselves as living sacrifices back to him. Our dedication must work to be the same as Christ’s on the cross. To face temptation, suffering and even death is only reasonable given the fact that Christ has already done so for us. (Romans 12:1-2)