Note from Pastor Brandon:
Also important to note that Matthew was a Jewish gospel and John was a Gentile audience. Matthew was writing for Jews and John was writing much later to a Greek and Roman dominated audience. The calendar the gentiles used was different than the Jews, which shows in Matthews's gospel and John's.
The Death of the King–The Last Three Hours (Matthew 27:45-50)
From noon to 3 p.m. there was darkness over all the land (verse 45). This was a supernaturally caused darkness (not a solar eclipse, which only lasts for five or so minutes and which never takes place during the time of Passover).
What took place during these three hours of darkness is indicated in verse 46 (darkness in Scripture is very often a symbol of judgment). These words were spoken toward the end of this three-hour period of darkness. They are first given in Aramaic (which was similar to Hebrew, the language spoken in Palestine) and then this expression is translated so that we know what it means. Why did God forsake and abandon and separate from His own Son? The answer to this question is suggested in Psalm 22:3 (see also verse 1) and 2 Cor. 5:21. Martin Luther once said, “God forsaken by God, who can know it?” The Lord Jesus was forsaken by God so that we who believe in Him will never be forsaken by God (see Hebrews 13:5).
Verse 47 indicates a misunderstanding among some of those who stood there. When Jesus said, “Eli, Eli” they thought He was calling for “Elijah” (see also verse 49). The Lord was offered a drink and He accepted it, one reason being that He had something that He was about to say that was so important He did not want anyone to misunderstand His utterance. The drink would soothe His dry throat and enable Him to cry with a “loud voice” (verse 50). Matthew does not tell us what He cried, but John supplies the answer to this in his gospel (see John 19:30). It was the Lord’s victory cry, after having finished the work of salvation (compare John 17:2-4). He fully paid for our sins. The debt was paid in full!
The expression “yielded up the ghost (spirit)” is further explained in Luke 23:46. This refers to the Lord’s physical death. His spiritual death (separation from God as the sinner’s Substitute) took place during the three hours of darkness when He was punished for our sins.
Calvary Miracles (Matthew 27:51-54)
Verse 51 speaks of some of the amazing events (supernaturally caused) which accompanied the death of Christ.
What happened to the veil of the temple (verse 51) is very significant. The holy place in the temple was divided from the Holiest of All (the most holy place) by a great and beautiful veil. It was suspended by hooks from four pillars of gold. It measured sixty feet long by thirty feet wide, made up of seventy-two squares, and was reputed to be as thick as the palm of the hand. The priests claimed it took three hundred men to handle it because it was so heavy.
The purpose of the veil needed no explanation. It was not a gateway, but a barrier. It effectively excluded the ministering priests from entering the Holiest of All. Only once a year was it drawn aside to admit the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16 and compare Hebrews 9:1-8). The High Priest would enter the most holy place to sprinkle the mercy seat with blood, making atonement for his own sins and those of the people.
For centuries the veil had hung gracefully in its place, but suddenly, at the very moment the Crucified One uttered His loud, expiring cry, the ministering priests heard a tearing sound. It was as if an unseen hand severed it by starting at the top. The veil fell apart before their awestricken gaze.
Who could express the solemnity of the moment when they found themselves gazing into the sanctuary where for centuries God had designed to dwell, and into which none had dared enter under pain of death. Tradition has it that the priests, unwilling to accept the implications of this divine act, sewed up the curtain and resumed their ritual, as though no world-shaking event had taken place.
No human hand could have rent this veil. Because of the death of Christ, God was able to remove the barrier that stood between sinful men and a holy God. Why did Christ die for us? “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the Just (the Righteous One) for the unjust (the unrighteous ones), that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Today God invites every believer to come before Him. The way has been opened by a mighty act of God (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-20,22). How often do you take advantage of this free and open access to God (Eph. 2:18)?
Matthew is the only gospel writer who tells us of certain saints who came out of the graves (verses 52-53). There was an earthquake which took place at the time of Christ’s death (verse 51). This earthquake caused the rocks to split and the graves to be opened, but Matthew is careful to explain that the bodies of these saints did not arise until “after His resurrection” (verse 53), which indicates that Christ’s resurrection took place first (compare 1 Cor. 15:20). These risen saints went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people, letting them know that Christ’s victory over death also guarantees that His believers will have victory over death.
Even in His dying and death the Lord Jesus demonstrated Who He was, as seen by the words of the centurion who was deeply moved by all that he saw and heard on that eventful day (verse 54).
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