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Matthew 27:51-54: This Man Was Truly the Son of God

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 16, 2012


Matthew 27:51-54 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, (52) and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. (53) They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. (54) The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

 

As Jesus hung on the cross, He knew His time was drawing near. Once the light returned He viewed the scene in front of Him He saw John with Mary and His mother. Other disciples were gathered in small groups. He looked at the soldiers, knowing some of them would be changed forever by the scene they witnessed. A smile came to His face as He thought about the change the disciples would experience. Jesus also looked at one priest and then another. He could see the changes in some of their faces. He knew the Spirit was working on the heart of each one. Many of them had been directed to the scriptures over the past weeks, months, and years. Jesus could tell by their eyes, their hearts and minds were being changed. Jesus and the Spirit directed them to those texts, and now they were seeing the physical fulfillment of prophecy.

 

Jesus began having a difficult time holding His head up. He could not help it. His head kept falling forward. He didn’t notice but when He held His head up, the pain from the thorns pressing against the cross had stopped. Jesus felt a sense of peace, total peace and comfort. His mind was beginning to feel detached from His body. He shook His head to regain conscienceless and the pain returned. He tried to clear His throat. It took three attempts before he was able to speak, then He cried out; “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” With that His head fell forward one last time as He gave up His Spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

 

The people standing in the outer court saw a flash of lightening from inside the Holy Place. It was brighter than anything they had seen before. It appeared as if God Himself was leaving the Holy Place. Or was He entering? Some stood in awe watching and waiting while others ran from the court looking for a place to hide. The priests and money changers were struck with fear, frozen in position. They looked as if the world would end. Some of them wondered where the high priest was. They dared not venture inside by themselves to see what was happening. Caiaphas was at Pilate’s palace demanding he take down the sign he placed over Jesus. They felt they had to wait for him.

 

Soon the ground began shaking. Once again the tables and chairs in the temple court were overturned. Animal pens were opened as sheep began to flee in every direction. Cages toppled over, breaking open thus freeing the doves within. Soon every sacrificial animal was gone as sheep ran up and down every surrounding street. God just announced the end of the sacrificial system. None of this compared to the flash of light from the Most Holy as God announced His presence. The Lord had moved. He was no longer restricted by signs and symbols in the sacrificial system. The Lamb of God had given His life. All the prophecies leading up to the cross had been fulfilled. The path to God was now equally open to everyone. Every individual could be led to the knowledge of His Word by the guidance of His Spirit on equal terms. The way was open for all of Jesus’ followers to be a Kingdom of priests.

 

Many graves opened up, waiting for the voice of their Savior to call. When Jesus raised Lazarus He had a few men roll away the stone and remove the clothing that bound him. Now it is God who takes away the stones and Jesus freeing them from the garments of the world, replacing them with His robe of righteousness.

 

The cross seemed to remain still as the ground violently shook under the feet of the Roman soldiers. It seemed as if it would never stop. They fell flat on the ground. Expecting the crosses to fall they rolled away, down the hill. At last the earth stopped shaking. Screams and cries could still be heard in the distance. As the Roman guards stood up they looked at the crosses still in place. They thought it was a miracle it did not fall, or the bodies were not torn away by the force of the earthquake. All of them were battle hardened soldiers. Many times they faced death, but today was different. For the first time they felt a fear they never expected. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. Looking up a Jesus’ dead body on the cross they said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

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