“Emmanuel’s Death” – Matthew 27:45-56

October 9th, 2016 (125th)

Matthew 27:45-56

“Emmanuel’s Death”

(See also: Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-37)

Call to Worship:  Psalm 22

Aux. text: Ephesians 2:11-22


Service Orientation: Jesus died and everything changed.  Trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus can change you.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. — 1 Corinthians 15:21-22


Background Information:

  • Matthew offers some very interesting details about that day that are absent from the other Synoptic Gospels, and these details at least provide clues to the significance of the death of Jesus. As we will see in this chapter, these events made deep impressions on numerous people that day, and they have much to teach us as we read of these things twenty centuries later.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 804)
  • (v. 45) The Father was providing a covering for his Son. It was something like a paramedic spreading a blanket over an accident victim before they can get him onto a stretcher and load him into an ambulance. (G. J. and M. J. Albrecht, The People’s Bible: Matthew, 419)
  • (v. 45) An eclipse lasts only a few minutes. This darkness lasted for three hours.  Besides, the crucifixion took place during Passover week, and Passover was always observed at the time of a full moon.  An eclipse cannot take place at the time of the month when the moon is full.  This was a special divine intervention in the normal workings of nature by which the sky grew dark in the middle of the day, at the sixth hour, which is twelve o’clock, and continued dark until three in the afternoon, when Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 622)
  • (v. 45) To describe this darkness Luke used the word ekeipō, which has the literal meaning of failing, or ceasing to exist, and is the term from which eclipse is derived. But a normal astronomical eclipse would have been impossible during the crucifixion, because the sun and moon were far apart on that day.  Regardless of its extent, therefore, the darkening of the sun was by the supernatural intervention of God.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 268)
  • (v. 45) At high noon an unearthly darkness suddenly descended to wrap the whole land in a midday midnight for three hours. No human eyes were allowed to gaze on the Lord’s last hours.  Of what happened in those dreadful hours we know nothing.  The Lord entered into a darkness of body, soul, and spirit, into a mystery of suffering that defies description and into which we must not probe.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 525)
  • (v. 45) It is reported that Dionysius, at Heliopolis in Egypt, took notice of this darkness, and said, Aut Deus naturæ patitur, aut mundi machina dissolviturEither the God of nature is suffering, or the machine of the world is tumbling into ruin. An extraordinary light gave intelligence of the birth of Christ (2:2), and therefore it was proper that an extraordinary darkness should notify his death, for he is the Light of the world.  The indignities done to our Lord Jesus, made the heavens astonished, and horribly afraid, and even put them into disorder and confusion; such wickedness as this the sun never saw before, and therefore withdrew, and would not see this.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 427-8)
  • (v. 46) It is not probable (as some have thought) that he repeated the whole psalm; yet hereby he intimated that the whole was to be applied to him, and that David, in spirit, there spoke of his humiliation and exaltation. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 428)
  • (v. 50) Jesus did not die the normal death of a crucified person who would merely breathe his last breath. Usually crucifixion caused a person to lapse into a coma from extreme exhaustion.  Jesus, however, was completely conscious to the end.  He gave up his spirit–he was in complete control.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 561)
  • (v. 50) Christ, just before he expired, spoke like a man in his full strength, to show that his life was not forced from him, but was freely delivered by him into his Father’s hands, as his own act and deed. He that had strength to cry thus when he died, could have got loose from the arrest he was under, and have bid defiance to the powers of death; but to show that by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, being the Priest as well as the Sacrifice, he cried with a loud voice.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 430)
  • (v. 51) The dramatic kai idou, “And look!” indicates that the extraordinary events which follow in vv. 51-53 were the immediate effect of Jesus’ death. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 1079)
  • (v. 51) Christ’s death was accompanied by at least four miraculous events: early darkness (27:45), the tearing in two of the curtain in the temple, a timely earthquake (the earth shook and the rocks split), and dead people rising from their tombs (27:52). Jesus’ death, therefore, could not have gone unnoticed.  Everyone knew that something significant had happened.  The curtain splitting in two must have devastated the priests who were undoubtedly working in the temple during this busy Passover week.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 562)
  • (v. 51) Christ had said, that if the children should cease to cry Hosanna, the stones would immediately cry out; and now, in effect, they did so, proclaiming the glory of the suffering Jesus, and themselves more sensible of the wrong done him than the hard-hearted Jews were, who yet will shortly be glad to find a hole in the rocks, and a cleft in the ragged rocks, to hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 431)
  • (v. 52) What we do know is that the report must be historical. Otherwise, why would Matthew have recorded such an amazing thing at all?  And why so soberly and with no explanation of its meaning?  What we can suppose is that the resurrection of these believers was a foretaste and pledge of the final resurrection of all who believe on Jesus.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 626)
  • (v. 54)The context and circumstances of the passage clearly indicate, however, that the centurion and his men were frightened of much more than the darkness and earthquake. They sensed that those awesome natural phenomena had a supernatural origin, and their primary fear was not of those events themselves but of the divine power behind them.  Their emotional fright soon turned to spiritual, reverential awe, as testified by the fact that they did not run for their lives or try to find a place of safety but rather declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 279)
  • (v. 54) It is true that the soldiers had been mocking (Lk 23:36). But that was before the earthquake had occurred, with its effect on rocks and tombs.  The men who had crucified Jesus may certainly have changed their minds.  Did not one of the robbers also mock at first and then repent?  According to Lk 23:48 even the multitude in general was at last deeply impressed and “returned smiting their breasts.”  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 977)
  • (v. 54) While these soldiers likely didn’t witness the veil-tearing in the temple, they nevertheless acted out the theology of it. They are Gentiles.  They are Roman Gentiles.  They are Roman soldier Gentiles.  They are Gentile sinners.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 884)
  • (v. 54) These Roman legionnaires, who had witnessed many a scene of horror in that callous age, “feared greatly.” Their harsh training in the Roman army, their iron discipline, and their reputed courage in the face of danger, all conspired to make them men who were fearless, but they “feared greatly.”  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 527)
  • Conspicuously absent from the scene at the cross were the Twelve, except for John. Judas had committed suicide, and the other ten were hiding for fear of their lives.  During their Lord’s greatest time of need, they had temporarily violated the basic principle of discipleship.  “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me,” Jesus said, “Is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10:38).  At this time the disciples not only did not have the courage to risk bearing their own crosses but did not even have the courage to stand with their Lord as He bore His.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 285)


The question to be answered is . . . What did Emmanuel’s death accomplish?


Answer:  Emmanuel’s death facilitated the death to spiritual darkness, the death of death, the death of our obligation to the ceremonies and the sacrifices, and the death of the curse of the Law.


The Lord’s Supper, which was instituted by Jesus, and which is the only regular commemorative act authorized by him, dramatizes neither his birth nor his life, neither his words nor his works, but only his death.  (John R.W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 68)


Remembering death acts like a filter, helping us to hold on to the essential and let go of the trivial.  Climacus pointed out that a “man who has heard himself sentenced to death will not worry about the way theaters are run.”  His point, of course, is that all of us have been sentenced to death; it’s just a matter of time, so shouldn’t we live our lives accordingly?  Why let trivia captivate our hearts?  Forgetting death tempts us to lose perspective.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 151)


The Word for the Day is . . . Death


Plato said that the entire task of philosophy can be summed up as melete thanatou–“mindfulness of death.”  (John Ortberg, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, 15)


What does faith in Emmanuel’s death accomplish?:

I-  Jesus’ death meant death to spiritual darkness and judgment:  separation from God.  (Mt 27:45-46, 51-53 see also: Gn 3:23-24; Ex 10:21-22; Isa 5:30; 13:10-11; Amos 5:20; 8:9-10; Joel 3:15-16; Zeph 1:14-15; Hab 1:13; Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jn 1:4, 9; 8:12; 12:35-36; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 2:11-22; Col 1:15-23;  Jude 1:6 )


Immediately upon His death, God caused the eighty-foot-tall curtain that separated the people from the presence of God to be torn asunder, ripped from top to bottom, which indicated a divine action.  This was a symbolic statement that the barrier was now removed.  Therefore, when we come to church to worship God, there is no curtain that separates us from the presence of God.  We gather in His presence each Lord’s Day morning.  We enjoy personal fellowship with Him.  Jesus ended the separation by His sacrifice of Himself.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 807)


This separation was the “cup” Jesus had dreaded as he prayed in Gethsemane (26:39).  The physical agony was horrible, but the spiritual alienation from God was the ultimate torture.  Jesus suffered this double death so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 560)


The cross was a place of immense divine judgment, where the sins of the world were poured out vicariously on the sinless, perfect Son.  It was therefore appropriate that great supernatural darkness express God’s reaction to sin in that act of judgment.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 269)


In this unique and strange miracle, Jesus was crying out in anguish because of the separation He now experienced from His heavenly Father for the first and only time in all of eternity.  It is the only time of which we have record that Jesus did not address God as Father.  Because the Son had taken sin upon Himself, the Father turned His back.  That mystery is so great and imponderable that it is not surprising that Martin Luther is said to have gone into seclusion for a long time trying to understand it and came away as confused as when he began.  In some way and by some means, in the secrets of divine sovereignty and omnipotence, the God-Man was separated from God for a brief time at Calvary, as the furious wrath of the Father was poured out on the sinless Son, who in matchless grace became sin for those who believe in Him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 270)


In the midst of being willingly engulfed in our sins and the sins of all men of all time, He writhed in anguish not from the lacerations on His back or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with His heavenly Father that His becoming sin for us had brought.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 271)


When his soul was first troubled, he had a voice from heaven to comfort him (Jn 12:27, 28); when he was in his agony in the garden, there appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him; but now he had neither the one nor the other.  God hid his face from him, and for awhile withdrew his rod and staff in the darksome valley.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 429)


Darkness in Scripture is very often a symbol of judgment.  See Isa 5:30; 60:2; Joel 2:30, 31; Amos 5:18, 20; Zeph 1:14-18; Mt 24:29, 30; Acts 2:20; 2 Pt 2:17; Rv 6:12-17.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 970)


The purpose for the darkness is not explained in the gospels or elsewhere in Scripture, but according to the Babylonian Talmud many rabbis had long taught that darkening of the sun was a judgment of God on the world for an unusually heinous sin.  If, indeed, that was God’s intention at the crucifixion, He presented a gigantic object lesson to the world regarding the greatest sin ever committed by fallen mankind.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 268)


When Christ was forsaken by the Father, their separation was not one of nature, essence, or substance.  Christ did not in any sense or degree cease to exist as God or as a member of the Trinity.  He did not cease to be the Son, any more than a child who sins severely against his human father ceases to be his child.  But Jesus did for a while cease to know the intimacy of fellowship with His heavenly Father, just as a disobedient child ceases for a while to have intimate, normal, loving fellowship with his human father.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 270-1)


At the cross His separation from the Father became immeasurably more profound than the humbling incarnation during the thirty-three years of His earthly life.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 271)


When sin first intruded into the creation in the garden of Eden, God banished the human race from fellowship with Him, and He placed an angel with a flaming sword at the entrance to the garden lest His fallen creatures should come again into the garden and into His immediate presence (Gn 3:23-24).  So, after sin came the barrier that blocked man’s direct access into the presence of God.  That barrier was symbolized by this massive curtain that blocked off the throne room of the holy God.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 807)


He tasted the ultimate horror of a lost soul:  to be abandoned by God.  In that mysterious loneliness He who knew no sin was made sin for us and experienced the torment of a soul in Hell.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 525)


“The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell! Farewell!”  —John Wesley


II-  Jesus’ death meant the death of death.  (Mt 27:52-53 see also: Ps 23:4; Ez 37:1-14; Dn 7:18; 12:2; Jn 5:25-29; 11:21-26; 1 Cor 15:20-58; Phil 1:20-23; 2 Tm 1:10; Heb 2:14-15)


Death is the godly man’s wish, the wicked man’s fear. (Samuel Bolton; The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, 46)


“Death is the supreme festival on the path (way) to freedom” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer shortly before his execution in a German Concentration camp.)


The tombs were opened.  The symbolism of this is that Jesus conquered death.  In dying and in rising again, he destroyed the power of the grave.  Because of his life, his death and his resurrection, the tomb has lost its power, and the grave has lost its terror, and death has lost its tragedy.  For we are certain that because he lives we shall live also.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 433)


Having by death destroyed him that had the power of death, he thus led captivity captive, and gloried in these re-taken prizes, in them fulfilling that scripture, I will ransom them from the power of the grave.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 432)


Jesus’ death is a resurrecting death:  the dead are revived by his dying.  As he passes from life to death they pass from death to life.  That’s the point of these resurrected people.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 879)


He does not so much want us to know everything we can know about these people but one significant something about Jesus.  That significant something is captured in this sermon’s title, borrowed from the Puritan John Owen, “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.”  That is, Jesus’ death defeated death, or as Augustine nicely phrased it, “His death. . . kill[ed] death.”  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 880)


Once we have grasped our situation in God’s full world, the startling disregard Jesus and the NT writers had for “physical death” suddenly makes sense.  Paul bluntly states, as we have just seen, that Jesus abolished death–simply did away with it.  Nothing like what is usually understood as death will happen to those who have entered his life.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 84)


The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.  —Mark Twain


This resurrection of dead people has no parallel in the other gospel accounts, and leaves plenty of unanswered questions for the historically minded interpreter.  Matthew gives us no explanation of the delay between the opening of the tombs and the appearance of the dead people in Jerusalem two days later, nor of what happened to them afterward.  We can only speculate on what a cinecamera might have recorded, and on why the appearance of “many” dead worthies to “many” people left no other trace in historical sources.  As with many of Jesus’ scientifically unexplainable miracles, Matthew is not interested in satisfying our natural curiosity or answering empirical skepticism.  He tells the story for its symbolic significance.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 1081)


The most dangerous man on earth is the man who has reckoned with his own death.  All men die, few men ever really live.  Sure, you can create a safe life for yourself…and end your days in a rest home babbling on about some forgotten misfortune.  I’d rather go down swinging.  Besides, the less we are trying to “save ourselves,” the more effective a warrior we will be.  (John Eldredge; Wild at Heart, 169)


Those saints did not appear in Jerusalem until after the Lord’s own resurrection, because He was divinely appointed to be “the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).  And just as Christ Himself appeared after His resurrection only to those who already believed in Him, it would also seem that the many to whom the resurrected saints appeared were all believers.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 276)


God dies like a man.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 876)


You see, the cross is not a cursed tree but a fruit tree.  It produces “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 880)


Jesus’ resurrection forever changed Christians’ view of death. Rodney Stark, sociologist at the University of Washington, points out that when a major plague hit the ancient Roman Empire, Christians had surprisingly high survival rates. Why? Most Roman citizens would banish any plague-stricken person from their household. But because Christians had no fear of death, they nursed their sick instead of throwing them out on the streets. Therefore, many Christians survived the plague. (Kenneth L. Woodward, “2000 Years of Jesus” NEWSWEEK, March 29, 1999, 55)


“Spare not death, do thy worst.   You will only make me better than before.”   — George Hebert


From an ancient oratorio:  “Thou has made death glorious and triumphant for through its portals we enter into the presence of the living God.”


For death of itself will never be desired, because such a desire is at variance with natural feeling, but is desired for some particular reason, or with a view to some other end.  Persons in despair have recourse to it from having become weary of life; believers, on the other hand, willingly hasten forward to it, because it is a deliverance from the bondage to sin, and an introduction into the Kingdom of heaven.  (John Calvin Commentary on Philippians: 1:23)


It is a poor thing to fear that which is inevitable.  (Tertullian, third-century church father, speaking about death)


Death is hereditary

All of us know that death still threatens us.  Luther prayed, “And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.”  But it is death that is our moral enemy.  Its sting hurts; its victory wrests life from loved ones.

When we are trapped by this fear of death we cannot live abundant lives.  We cling to those things that appear to give life some semblance of permanence.  We do not feel free to take risks, and we find it hard to give generously without counting the cost.

Yet, Jesus taught that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24 RSV).  Dying, we live.  Jesus didn’t want death, but when it came he accepted it as part of the givenness of his life.  By dying, Christ robbed death of its power and delivered us from its terror.  So, fears may be liars.  Even that final fear!  (Richard L. Morgan; No Wrinkles On the Soul)


Your final exit will be your greatest entrance. —Barbara Johnson


No one knows but that death is the greatest of all good to men; yet men fear it, as if they well knew that it is the greatest of evils.  Is not this the more reprehensible ignorance, to think that one knows what one does not know? — Socrates


They have no fear of death who know that life goes on forever.


Dying words:  “Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation:  God is the Lord by whom we escape death.”— Martin Luther


Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.  —John Knox


III-  Jesus’ death meant the death of our need for the ceremonies and the sacrifices. (Mt 27:51 see also: Ex 26:31-37; 38:18; Lev 16; Eph 2:11-22; Col 1:15-23;  Heb 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 7:26-28; 8:1-10:22)


Symbolically, that curtain separated the holy God from sinful people.  By tearing the curtain in two from top to bottom, God showed that Jesus had opened the way for sinful people to reach a holy God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 562)


The tearing of the curtain proclaimed the termination and passing away of the ceremonial law.  It was a sign that the old dispensation of sacrifices and ordinances was no longer needed:  its work was done, its business finished from the moment that Christ died.  There was no more need of an earthly high priest, a mercy-seat, a sprinkling of blood, an offering of incense and a day of atonement.  The true High Priest had at length appeared; the true Lamb of God had been slain; the true mercy-seat was at length revealed.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 284)


When Christ gave up His spirit, that once-for-all sacrifice was completed and the need for a veil no longer existed.  By coming to the Son, any man could now come to God directly, without need of priest, sacrifice, or ritual.  Consequently, the veil was torn in two from top to bottom by God’s miraculous act, because the barrier of sin was forever removed for those who put their trust in the Son as Lord and Savior.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 273)


When Jesus died everything the OT sacrifices pointed to was fulfilled.  There was no need for further sacrifices, and the way to God was open for all who would put their trust in Jesus.  God showed this in a dramatic way by tearing the veil.

In addition, the veil was torn in two at three o’clock in the afternoon, which was the time of the beginning of the evening sacrifice.  The priests would have been in the temple, engaged in their duties, when the veil was torn.  They would have seen it, no doubt standing aghast before the now-exposed innermost recess of the temple, and they would have known that the age in which they had served was over and a new age of God’s dealings with his people had begun.  This may be the explanation of what we read later in Acts:  “So the word of God spread.  The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7, emphasis added).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 624)


Jesus’ sacrifice was a real sacrifice for sin, not a symbol that pointed forward to something else, as the OT system did.  Previous sacrifices pointed forward to the atonement he would make, but they were not themselves that atonement.  Jesus put away our real sin by his real death.  To suggest that anything more is necessary for salvation is to deny the doctrine known as solus Christus (Christ alone), the slogan by which the Reformers expressed the completeness and total sufficiency of Christ’s work.  To add anything to Christ’s work is to preach “another gospel,” which the Bible condemns (Gal 1:6-9).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 625)


The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, an ominous sign heralding the end of Judaism and its ritual religion, the end of the OT economy.  Edersheim said the veil was sixty feet long, twenty feet wide, as thick as a man’s hand when measured right across the palm, and enormously heavy.  A yoke of oxen could not have rent that veil.  The fact that it was torn in two from the top indicated the divine nature of this symbolic catastrophe.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 526)


The manner how he breathed his last (v. 50); between the third and the sixth hour, that is, between nine and twelve o’clock, as we reckon, he was nailed to the cross, and soon after the ninth hour, that is, between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, he died.  That was the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, and the time when the paschal lamb was killed; and Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us and offered himself in the evening of the world a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor.  It was at that time of the day, that the angel Gabriel delivered to Daniel that glorious prediction of the Messiah, Dn 9:21, 24 &c.  And some think that from that very time when the angel spoke it, to this time when Christ died, was just seventy weeks, that is, four hundred and ninety years to a day, to an hour; as the departure of Israel out of Egypt was at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day, Ex 12:41.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 430)


Christ’s loud cry was like a trumpet blown over the sacrifices.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 430)


There were two temple curtains, one dividing the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place and the other separating the Holy Place from the court.  Tearing the latter would be more public, but tearing the inner veil could hardly be hushed up.  Jewish parallels are interesting (b Yoma 29b reports the doors of the temple opened of their own accord during the forty years before the destruction of the temple) but difficult to interpret.  The inner veil is presupposed in Heb 4:16; 6:19-20; 9:11-28; 10:19-22.  Destruction of the outer veil would primarily symbolize the forthcoming destruction of the temple, while destruction of the inner veil would primarily symbolize open access to God (Best, Temptation, 99); but destruction of either veil could point in both directions.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 580)


IV-  Jesus’ death meant the death of the curse of the Law. (Mt 27:45-46, 50-51 see also: Gen 2:17; 3:1-4; Isa 53; Rom 4:25; 5:10; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; Col 1:15-23; 1 Pt 2:24; 3:18; 1 Jn 4:10)


Christ was to be hung on a cross (or tree to which it is sometimes referred) which was to be cursed by God (see Dt 21:23 & Gal 3:13).  Also a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head (Also a part of the original curse of the Garden of Eden in Gn 3:17).  Why?  Because Christ became cursed for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).


In order for Jesus to pay for the sin of His people, He had to be cursed, and to be cursed meant that He had to be sent into the darkness, the darkness outside the camp, outside the holy city.  The darkness was a sign of divine judgment on the sin Jesus was carrying, for God is too holy to even look at sin.  The One who had come into the world as the incarnation of light was now the incarnation of darkness.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 805)


The Cross propitiated God.  That is to say, it quenched His wrath against us by expiating our sins, and so removing them from His sight (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).  The Cross had this effect because in His suffering Christ assumed our identity and endured the retributive judgment due to us, that is, “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13).  He suffered as our substitute, with the damning record of our transgressions nailed by God to His cross as the list of crimes for which He died (Col. 2:14; cf. Mt 27:37; Isa 53:4-6; Lk 22:37).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr., New Geneva Study Bible, 1772)


To be forsaken by God is the ultimate penalty for sin.  The pit of hell is the abode of the utterly forsaken.  To be forsaken is to be cast into the outer darkness.  It is to receive the fury of the curse of God.  (R.C. Sproul, The Glory of Christ, 158)


Was he flogged?  It was done so that “by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5).  Was he condemned, though innocent?  It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.  Did he wear a crown of thorns?  It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.  Was he stripped of his clothes?  It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.  Was he mocked and reviled?  It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.  Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong?  It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.  Was he declared unable to save himself?  It was so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost.  Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths?  It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 281)


In the Gospels what happened between twelve o’clock and three o’clock is a blank.  All we know is that during these three hours of intense darkness Jesus suffered indescribable agonies.  He was being “made sin” for us (2 Cor 5:21), “a curse” (Gal 3:13).  He was being “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.”  Jehovah was laying on him “the iniquity of us all,” etc. (Isa 53).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 971)


To create, God merely had to speak; to save He had to suffer.


V-  Jesus’ resurrection was God’s “AMEN” to the work of Jesus.  (see: Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 34, 37; Rom 4:24-25; 10:9; 1 Cor 6:14; ch 15; Gal 1:1; Eph 2:6; Col 2:12; 1 Pt 1:21)



After Jesus gives up “his spirit,” the Spirit of God goes to work on the world (v. 50).  Heaven showers down its signs of vindication and victory.  The justification of God outshouts the voice of scorn and confusion.  The Father has not abandoned his righteous suffering Son, and he gives an earthshaking, tomb-breaking, curtain-tearing ceremony to celebrate!  He unmistakably affirms that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 876)


If God had not raised Him from the grave we might draw the conclusion that our Lord was not able to bear the punishment of the guilt of our sins, that it was too much for Him, and that His death was the end.  But He was raised from the dead; and in raising Him up God was proclaiming that His Son had completed the work, that full expiation has been made, that He is propitiated and completely satisfied.  The resurrection declares that, and it is in that sense that He is “risen again for our justification.”  It is there we see it clearly.  The work was done on the Cross, but here is the proclamation that it is enough.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapters 3:20-4:25, 244)


That great shout left its mark upon people’s minds.  It is in every one of the gospels (Mt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46).  But there is one gospel which goes further.  John tells us that Jesus died with a shout:  “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30).  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 431)


It is finished is in English three words; but in Greek it is one–Tetelastai–as it would also be in Aramaic.  And tetelestai is the victor’s shout; it is the cry of all those who have completed their task; it is the cry of those who have won through the struggle; it is the cry of those who have come out of the dark into the glory of the light, and who have grasped the crown.  So, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on his lips.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 431-2)


Worship Point:  Worship the One whose death brought life.


In Christian worship we are not merely asked to believe in Jesus Christ, but to live, die, and be resurrected again with him.  Life is not an intellectual construct, but a journey of death and rebirth.  When our life story is brought up into the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, it then gains meaning and purpose. (Robert E. Webber; Worship is a Verb, 25)


If to live is Christ then death is the greatest gain (Phil 1:20-23).  —Pastor Eric Sass;


If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.  —Martin Luther King Jr.  (George Barna; Turning Vision . . ., 113)


“Life and death look to us like two evils of which we know not which is the less.  As for the Apostle, they look to him like two immense blessings, of which he knows not which is the better. . . On either side of the veil, Jesus Christ is all things to him . . . Only, the conditions of the other side are such that the longed-for companionship of his Master will be more perfectly realized there.”  (H. C. CG. Moule Philippians Studies; 71, 78)


Gospel Application:  NOTE:  Jesus’ death on the cross is not just a story.  It is a real, space-time event that has eternal, cosmic, and personal benefits for the lives of everyone who trusts in Jesus.  (Mt 1:21; 20:28; 26:26-28; Lk 19:10; Acts 26:26; 1 Thes 4:14)


The Christian Way—The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.   A baby feels hunger:  well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim:  well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desire:  well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120)


I tried to conceive not existing but it was impossible.  Why?  Because as a human being I am made in the image of God and God has set eternity in my heart. The inner witness tells me death is not the end.  The resurrection tells me death can be the door to a glorious new life.  (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 111)


Victory comes to those who will never let go of their faith, even when they feel that its last grounds are gone.  Victory comes to those who have been beaten to the depths and still hold on to God, for that is what Jesus did.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 432)


Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  Now.  What’s the moral of the story?  If that story is not true, think about this for a second.  You say, ah well, it doesn’t matter if it’s true, it’s inspirational.  Oh really?  Let’s think about this for a minute.  What’s the moral of the story?  Don’t protect yourself?  You’re the victim of what?  It’s oppression.  When oppression comes to you–just give in.  You just let them walk all over you.  You don’t open your mouth, you don’t protest.  Just let injustice roll all over you.  Is that the moral of the story?  That’s perverse.  And there’s another way to put it.  OK.  Let’s say you and I are going to the top of the Empire State Building.  And we’re looking out there and all of a sudden you come to me and you say Tim, I just want you to know how much I love you.  I want you to know how much I care for you and I’m going to show you how much I love you.  And you get up on the ledge, and you say watch.  And you throw yourself off and down you go to your death.  And I look over the ledge and I say, look how that person loved me.  Do I?  No.  I would say what’s wrong with that person?  But what if I because I’m stupid or because I’m a fool or something what if I get to the edge myself and I’m about to fall off and you come over and you push me to safety but in the process you fall.  Now listen.  The crucifixion is; something has happened in history that changes everything.  The Servant has come to take your punishment.  It changes everything.  If it’s not true, it’s not just unimportant, it’s bad.  It’s not just that the story doesn’t work, if it’s not true, it actually works badly, it’s perverse, it’s a…it’s pernicious. (Tim Keller, “Indestructible Truth”)


Spiritual Challenge:  Live in the reality of what was accomplished by Jesus’ death and verified by Jesus’ resurrection.   


As Christians, we know–or at least heave heard–the glorious words of Christ and his people about their future life in the presence of God.  But frankly, few really believe them.  To really believe them would be to act straightforwardly and spontaneously as if they were true.  It would be to be confident with every pore of our being that any friend of Jesus is far better off dead.  It would be to rejoice, in the midst of our parting sorrows, over the indescribably greater well-being of our loved one who has moved on “further up and further into” the greatness of God and His world.  Jesus quite reasonably said to his closest friends:  “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28).

Jesus’s attitude toward death is frankly quite cavalier. (Dallas Willard; The Great Omission, 221-2)


You can’t threaten me with heaven.  —Georgia Pietrzak


What looks like death to us is rest to God.  (Our Daily Bread May 25th, 2016)


Dr. Judson, the apostle of India, says:  “Many Christians spend all their days in a continual bustle doing good. They are too busy to find either the valley or Beulah. Virtues they have; but are full of the life and attractions of nature, and unacquainted with the paths of mortification and death.  Let us die as soon as possible by whatever process God shall appoint.  And when we are dead to the world, and nature, and self, we shall begin to live to God.”  ( B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 28-9)


Some men die in battles

Some men die in flames

But most men die inch by inch

While playing little games.  —Unknown


So What?:  If you fail to understand the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, you are simply not thinking.  Since Jesus died, we no longer have to wander in the dark trying to find purpose or significance; we don’t have to fear death; and we can live in freedom, love, hope, courage and strength in light of the death of Jesus Who freed us from the curse of the Law.


He was an extremely cautious man, who never romped or played.

He never risked at anything, nor even kissed a maid.

And when he up and passed away, insurance was denied.

For since he hadn’t ever lived, they claimed he never died.


Do not seek death.  Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.  (Dag Hammarskjold, Markings, 16)



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