Yesterday I started the Daily Note saying a Radio News report said the Kwa-Zulu Natal floods was an Act of God. I disagreed with that, yet added that there was an Act God … meaning the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are other Acts of God such as the sun rising each day or me looking out of the window, gazing at the rains falling in the Bush. The Creation was also an Act of God … yet the greatest Act of God was the Cross and an empty Tomb … the New Creation.
1) Acts of man.
Mt 27:47 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 stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
The people were so brain washed by their religious leaders that they did not realize Jesus needed to die substitutionally for the sin of the nation as well as the race. Even their High Priest prophesied this yet when the blind lead the blind, all are lost. It is important that people use the Bible as their authority. This is why it is vital that people make use of a Bible in Church and not just believe what the preacher says. What he says might be one hundred percent correct, but it might be that subtle errors are introduced. Read Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus as see how important it is that the input the congregation have is the authentic Word of God.
2) “More” Acts of God. As soon as Jesus died
Mt 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit
God the Father confirmed His acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice through miraculous acts. Remember miracles are always associated with God’s salvific plan.
(1) There was immediate access into God’s presence.
Mt 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
According to Matthew, the first benefit of Jesus substitutionary death was individual salvation. To this point only the High Priest could access God once a year in the Holy of Holies. He went behind the curtain. Now this 9 by 9 meter barrier that was 25 millimeters thick was torn from top to bottom by God. He accepted Jesus’ payment for sin, removing the barrier wall preventing you and me from going directly to God. Salvation is now open to all who believe … Jew and Gentile alike!
(2) There was an earthquake. The earth shook and the rocks split. See verse 54. This Act shows that what Jesus did, He did for the whole planet, not just for the Jews who believe. The whole earth was affected by Adam’s fall in Genesis 3. Because of the New Creation, there will be the New Heavens and Earth once Jesus returns and the Judgment is concluded. Where sin affected the whole earth, what Jesus did affects all who shall believe.
(3) There were some dead who were raised to life.
Mt 27:52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
I would suggest that the purpose of this was that although they would die again … we may look forward positively, with full assurance that we too will participate in being raised from the dead unto eternal life with Jesus in glory.
(4) A hardened military soldier was converted.
Mt 27:54 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!”
He most likely participated in mocking and crucifying Jesus … and as he stood guard to prevent anyone from stealing Jesus off the Cross, Jesus died and the earthquake rocked the region … but more … it rocked him into faith! He believed that this Jesus was the Son of God!
3) Firsthand eye witnesses. It is one thing to receive a message second or third hand. How do we know this message is true? Yet when we receive a message firsthand we are more likely to believe the message.
Mt 27:55 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 Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
God provides credible witnesses of Jesus’ death (as well as the earthquake and the centurion’s response). Although salvation is by faith alone, God includes the record of these ladies being present when Jesus died as additional proof within Scripture for our benefit.
4) Proof of salvation. Joseph of Arimathea was a believer. He boldly went to Pilate asking for Jesus’ body for burial.
Mt 27:57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
This was sacrificial … an act of love and commitment. How far does our love and commitment to Jesus go? Joseph is another witness of Jesus’ death and burial.
5) Because the Day of Preparation for the Passover was coming to an end, the Jews did not want bodies hanging on crosses, so they requested of Pilate:
Jn 19:31 to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
When the legs were broken, the victim could no longer heave himself upwards to breath … and so suffocated. Jesus was already dead by this time. Other witnesses to His death are the prophecies that were fulfilled at the Cross. Psalm 34:20 says none of His bones would be broken. Zechariah 12:10 says he would be pierced.
6) One last witness of Jesus’ death and burial is:
Mt 27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
They saw Joseph burying Jesus’ dead body. It is vitally important that we understand all these things because the critics out there want us to believe Jesus did not die! If He did not die, He did not rise and if He did not rise, there is no Gospel and no salvation … and then we would be ruined in our sin. Praise God that we have sufficient evidence in the passage we have worked through. Jesus paid the sin price culminating in His death. God’s legal requirements have been fulfilled … meaning our sin has been dealt with.
Father with joy we declare, Hallelujah, what a Savior. Amen.