Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jesus’ Death

Matthew 27:45-58

“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 27:45-46)

Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” and II Corinthians 5:21 says “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin…”  for three hours, from noon until about three o’clock, while Jesus was bearing our sin, God shut out the sight, making it dark on the earth.   A total eclipse lasts only about seven and a half minutes so this was not an eclipse of the sun, but a miraculous event.  It was the first and only time Jesus had not been in constant communication with his father, and he cried out asking why he had forsaken him.  It must have been as stressful as the first day of school is for a child who has never been away from its mother. 

“Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.  And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.  The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.” (Matthew 27:47=49)

Some of the people thought Jesus was hallucinating from dehydration and calling for Elijah.  One of them went to get a sponge filled with vinegar to rehydrate him and prevent fainting and ending the suffering.  Others said they would just wait to see if Elijah came to the rescue.

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” (Matthew 27:50)

John 19:30 tells us, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”  After shouting “It is finished,” Jesus died about three o’clock in the afternoon. 

 “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.” (Matthew 27:51-53)

When jesus died, the veil separating the holy place and the Holy of Holies split open.  Hebrews 9:8 says that the veil indicated that the way into heaven was not open until Jesus died.  “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:”  That it split at that particular time indicated the way to heaven was now open for everyone. 

At the same time many of the graves were opened and many of the dead saints were restored to life in a manner similar to what is predicted in the book of Revelation.  They came out of the graves and went into the city.  I can only imagine the consternation people felt at seeing a dead loved one walking around town.

“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)

The centurion in charge of the detail responsible for crucifying Jesus and his men were convinced by the darkness, the earthquake, the graves being opened and all the other events that Jesus had to be the Son of God as he claimed.  They were terrified at what they had done.

“And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.” (Matthew 27:55-56)

A number of Jesus’ followers had come to the execution, including John and Jesus’ mother as well as others.  They were standing some distance away, but they remained until he was taken down. 

“When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.” (Matthew 27:57-58)

About sundown, Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus.  Because the Jews would not want to deal with the dead bodies on the Sabbath day, he had ordered the legs of the executed to be broken to hasten their deaths, and ensure they could be buried before the Sabbath started.  They would have all night and all day Friday to die.  Since Jesus was already dead, they did not break his legs. 

John 19:31-37 describes the events.  “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.   For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.  And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.  In doing so, the soldiers fulfilled two more of the prophecies about Jesus death.

When Joseph asked for the body, Pilate couldn’t believe he was already dead.  Mark 15:44 says,  ”And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.  And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.”  After learning that Jesus had been dead nearly three hours and that there was no doubt of his death, Pilate gave Joseph permission to bury him.

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