Friday, March 29, 2013

While on the Cross


While on the Cross

Matthew 27:45-46
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  
Matthew 27:51-54
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.  Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 

Jerusalem, on the day Christ would be crucified, was crowded with many people coming and going as they prepared to celebrate the Passover. God’s true Passover Lamb would give Himself to provide forgiveness for the sins of mankind and Scripture will record for us many supernatural phenomena which will occur while Jesus is hanging on the cross.

The darkening of the sky was the first miraculous sign that preceded Jesus’ death. Why darkness during this time on the cross? Did this have special meaning or was it an appropriate reminder that the cross was a place of judgment? Some say that it was an act of mercy toward Christ to cover His suffering and nakedness, like a veil, and others have suggested that it signifies God’s displeasure towards those who put Christ to death. In any case, Christ was taking our place as the wrath of God was being poured out on His Son, for our iniquities.

Before Christ’s last breath, He cried out with a strong and loud voice; not with a failing voice or  struggling tongue as is common to men that are dying from being crucified, but as a man in his full strength, to show that His life was not forced from Him, but was freely given and delivered into His Father’s hands. At the moment Christ died, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil, being made of extremely heavy material, blocked the entrance to the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept–––symbolizing the sacred presence of God. The renting of the veil from top to bottom signified that God had removed the barrier between God and sinful man, and the redeemed would be forgiven forever by the once-for-all sacrifice of the perfect Lamb. Note: At the moment of the tearing of the veil, the temple was crowed with worshippers who were there for the Passover and the killing of their Passover lambs. It was at the very hour Jesus died that thousands of lambs were being slain, that the true Passover Lamb died by divine design.

“And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51). An earthquake, so powerful that it split rocks, would be a frightening experience for anyone. That’s exactly what happened the day Christ died. Earthquakes, like darkness, is sometimes used to signify God’s divine judgment or His wrath. Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai to receive the tables of the law, and the whole mount quaked greatly (Exodus 19:18b). According to Revelation 6:12-16, the final judgment of the earth will begin with a global earthquake more powerful than any other earthquake ever experienced. On the heels of the earthquake comes a second disaster, as the “sun became black as sackcloth made of hair”and the “moon became as blood.” The devastating natural disasters accompanying the sixth seal will be the most terrifying events ever to affect the earth. At the cross, we see the wrath of God poured out on His own Son, punctuated by the quaking, quivering  earth.

Another great miracle at the moment Christ died, was the dead being raised from their graves. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matthew 27:52-53). Not all, but many of the tombs around Jerusalem were opened and saints were raised from the dead. The Gospel of Matthew is the only book that mentions this event in the description of the death of Christ. Matthew does not say what happened to the risen saints, but, it did prove that Christ would conquer death, not only for Himself, but for all saints of all the ages in the final great resurrection.

Perhaps the most important miracle that occurred at the moment of Jesus’ death was the conversion of the centurion, overseeing the crucifixion of Christ. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54).  Christ’s death was unlike any crucifixion the Roman Centurion or others near by had witnessed. This man, Jesus, the One whom they called, “The King of the Jews,” was praying for those who crucified Him. Nobility is the word that can be used to define Jesus as He suffered on the cross. These are the words spoken by the centurion, upon Christ’s death, Certainly this was a righteous man, a true expression of his faith. The centurion, and his soldiers with him, were evidently the very first to believe He was the Christ, coming to faith at precisely the moment He died.

Thought: Salvation is still a wondrous miracle that occurs in the life of a sinner being “Saved by His wonderful grace.” This is why so much emphasis is placed upon the death of Christ and His triumphant Resurrection. Because of the death He died, suffering our penalty of sin, we are partakers of His glorious Resurrection as well. It is truly the cross that gives meaning to His Resurrection and we can be certain of being raised with Him in the likeness of His Resurrection.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him (Romans 6:8). The heart and soul of the Gospel message is this: Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3,4).

 If you don't know the Savior, if you've not come to Him for forgiveness, embraced Him as Lord, this is the day for that. See Him as the Son of God, the Savior of the world who died for your sins, accept Him by faith and trust Him as your Savior today.

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