Matthew 27:45-56 (Part 1) – Here We Are, The Most Important Moment In Human History: It Causes Me To Tremble, Tremble

Posted: April 27, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:45-56 (Part 1)

Jesus Dies on the Cross

Today, we come to the most important moment in human history. As you many of you know, my usual format for my daily blog is to come up with an illustration from my own life or an illustration from the world around me that I am familiar with to get the reader to focus on a central idea that comes from the illustration. Today, that just does not seem appropriate. There is no illustration from my life or from the world I know around me that compares to this moment. This is Jesus Christ dying on the cross. There is no comparison in my life to that. There is no cute illustration, no funny illustration, no illustration of any kind to compare to this moment. It is the single most important scene in human history. It is the pivotal moment of the Bible. Everything before it in the Bible is building toward this moment. Everything after it in the Bible is as the result of this moment. Human history is measured from this moment. Most of humanity measures time by this moment. The years that we count to measure time are either minused or plussed from this moment. Needless to say, this moment is a big deal in so many ways. It is so significant that we will spend several days here analyzing this passage. Without further ado, let’s get right into the passage, Matthew 27:45-56:

 

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

 

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

 

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

 

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

 

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

 

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[d] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

 

Today, we will look at the theological significance of this scene. Tomorrow, we will look at Jesus’ exclamation of separation from God. Next, we will look the significance of the geophysical events that took place at Jesus’ death and why they are significant. After that, we will look at how it was curious that Roman soldiers, non-believers, were able to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. And, finally, we will look at the fact that it was Jesus’ female supporters that were present at his death.

 

For today, let’s take this event in. Jesus died on the cross. As I said earlier, this is the most important moment in human history. Let us not in our knowledge of it having happened that we do not grasp the significance of it. Jesus died on the cross. Let that soak in for a moment. Don’t move on to the next passage quickly. Let this moment marinate in your mind, heart, and soul. Jesus died on the cross. Drift back in time and sit there on Golgotha’s hill. Clear your mind of other thoughts and what you have to do today. Drift back in time and sit at Calvary. Sit there and watch the participants but then look up at the cross. Jesus’ life is slipping away and then it is gone. Jesus’ badly beaten body is there on the cross. He had not any sleep for probably at least two days by the time he died. His body ripped to shreds by the cat o’ nine tails whips that he was beaten with. His head pounding from the repeated blows to his skull. The loss of blood unimaginable. The painful nails driven through muscle and bone in his hands and his feet. The slow agonizing asphyxiation that occurs in crucifixion where by the way your body hangs on the cross tears at the muscles in our arms by the sheer weight of your own body. The ability to breath requires you to raise your body to a level that you can exhale air and quickly take oxygen in and then let your body fall downward again. As your body weakens from the stress of hanging awkwardly, the ability to move up to exhale carbon dioxide becomes less and less and ultimately you begin suffocating from the carbon dioxide build-up in your body. The combination of suffocating and the blood loss leads to death. It is a gruesome way to die.

 

We sanitize in most of our films about Jesus. We sanitize the beatings he took. We sanitize how Jesus’ body looked after those beatings. We sanitize his nine grueling hours on the cross. We often treat it as though the Romans slapped him on the back a couple of times and then that he was fully alert and oozing only a few drops of blood. And then all of a sudden our clean, sanitized Jesus dies on the cross. Mel Gibson, for all his personal faults and feaux pauxs, got it more right than anyone so far in cinematic Jesus on the cross. Jesus most likely had very few areas of his body that was not covered in his own blood. Very few areas of his body where the skin was not ripped or bruised. His face was battered and swollen from the beatings about his face and skull. And he suffered through getting nails driven through muscle and bone in both his hands and his feet. His feet stacked on top of one another and a huge nail drive through both at the same time to hold them together on the downward beam of the cross. Could you imagine that particular nail going through one foot and the anticipation of it being driven through the foot stacked below it. Jesus died on the cross in a gruesome death.

 

Then we hear Him exclaim to the Father in heaven, why have you forsaken me? If Jesus is the Son of God and He and the Father are of one and the same essence, why did He say that? But this curious statement point us to the whole point of it all.

 

Yes, Jesus and the Father in Heaven are of one and the same essence. They are part of the mysterious trinity of God. He is God. Three in one. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are all named separately in the Bible and represent the three personages of God. Thus, since all eternity, Jesus has existed in perfect union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Even as Jesus walked the earth, He was still in unison with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was still God when He roamed by foot as a human being. He was God in the flesh. He set aside all the glory that is His at all other points in eternity. He set aside His glory to break into human history for two very specific purposes. One was to raise up disciples who would attest to the generations of who He was what this all meant. The other purpose was to die on the cross. It was here on the cross that He would take on the full wrath of God for the sins of all mankind, past, present and future. God has proclaimed that it why Jesus died on the cross. Thus, the cry from Jesus is both for his physical pain but also the separation from the trinity while He was taking the punishment from God for all sin of all mankind. That’s the point of it all. That’s why at that moment Jesus was all alone. He was made into that one ball of all sin ever committed and the Father punished Him for it so that there would be a way for us not to be condemned by our own sins.

 

Jesus willingly took on all that pain and even greater the separation from the Father and the Holy Spirit that He had never experienced before or since. Why? So that we would have a way for our sins to be not counted against us. Each of us sins daily and they condemn us but it only takes that first one to condemn us much less the mountains of sin we commit daily, hourly, by the minute. Jesus’ death on the cross is the substitute for our sin punishment that we deserve at the hands of a perfect and holy and sinless God. In that moment of exclamation, Jesus was separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit so He could take on the full brunt of God’s wrath against all sin. He was alone in doing that. He did that so that you and I would have the opportunity to experience grace before God. All we have to do is believe that this was the purpose of the cross and that Jesus was willing to do it. Jesus, part of the trinity, holy and perfect in power and glory, set it all aside to willing come to earth to do what He did. Die on the cross for you and for me and for anyone who will believe that He is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that He rose from the dead.

 

Sit that at Calvary and see the dead and lifeless human flesh of Jesus Christ. Look at Him. He is there beaten and bloodied beyond recognition. All for you. All for you. All for me. All for anyone who will believe it. He took all that ugly, brutal punishment because God loves us that much that He did not want to automatically condemn us to hell without giving us the lifeline that this death on the cross gives us. See the body, beaten and bruised. See the pain and suffering that is evident on his body. See what He went through for you. It brings to my that wonderful old hymn, Were You There, whose lyrics go like this:

 

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

 

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

 

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

 

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

 

Stand before the cross. Look upon Jesus’ body, given up and punished and beaten. It was all for you. No greater love has there been than this. Amen and Amen.

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