An Earth-Shaking Event.
Matthew 27:51-56; Mark 15:38-41; Luke 23:45-49
The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. – Matthew 27:51-53 NLT
It’s hard for us to grasp just how momentous and significant the death of Jesus was. Each of the gospel writers tell us how His life ended. Matthew says that “Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit” (Matthew 27:500 NLT). Mark describes it this way: “Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last” (Mark 15:37 NLT). Luke gives a bit more detail, recording that “Jesus shouted, ‘Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!’ And with those words he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46 NLT). Finally, John records that Jesus was offered a sponge soaked in sour wine, and when He had tasted it he said, “‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and released his spirit” (John 19:30 NLT). In each case, we see Jesus succumbing to the torture and pain to which He had been subjected. His body finally gave in to all the abuse, and Jesus closed His eyes and died. But at that moment, when it appeared that everything was over and His life was ended, some incredible, earth-shattering events took place. Matthew tells us that at that exact moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in half, from top to bottom. But that’s not all. The earth shook, rocks split apart and tombs opened. There were some significant geological phenomena that went on. Matthew goes on to tell us that the earthquake itself was so intense that it terrified the Roman soldiers who were overseeing the crucifixion. Jesus’ death was anything but normal or uneventful. It was spectacular and special because it signified a momentous change in the relationship between God and man. What is fascinating is that in the final moments of Jesus’ death, the leading priests, teachers of religious law, and the elders mocked Jesus, saying, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!” (Matthew27:42 NLT). But rather than save Himself, Jesus dies so that He might save others. He died so that we might live. And at the moment He died, something miraculous happened. “The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead” (Matthew 27:52 NLT). Jesus did not save Himself from death, but in dying, He restored these people from death. He delivered them from the grave. This miraculous sign proved that He was who He claimed to be. He really was the King of Israel, and even in death, He had power over the grave. As He hung lifeless on the cross, He brought life back to those who had been dead. And three days later, when He rose from the dead, these rejuvenated individuals would appear in the city of Jerusalem. In essence, they represented the “first fruits,” a symbol of what is to come. We don’t know if these people went with the Lord when He ascended, or if they stayed on earth. If they stayed on earth, they would have had to have died a second time, just as Lazarus did. But what we do know is that their restored lives were evidence of Jesus’ victory over death. He had truly conquered the grave. These people had been dead, but were now raised to new life, and they would appear to many who knew them, proving the veracity of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.
When most men die, their story ends. Their influence dies with them. But Jesus’ death made a powerful impact on the world. It literally shook the earth. It shattered rocks. It opened graves. It raised the dead. It defeated sin and death. It satisfied the demands of a just and holy God. It made possible new life and a restored relationship with God the Father. It was a game-changer and it continues to impact the world today. Jesus wasn’t just another well-meaning martyr dying for a cause. He was the innocent Son of God, giving His life as payment for the sins of all mankind. His death was a powerful antidote to the curse of sin and the disease of death. What Jesus did on the cross struck a fatal blow to the enemy and eliminated the strangle hold he had on the lives and souls of men. It was earth-shaking, paradigm-shattering, and sin-conquering. Jesus had done His part. He had fulfilled His Father’s will, and He was able to say, “It is finished.” Now the rest was up to God the Father.
Father, no man’s death has ever had the impact that the death of Jesus did. Earthquakes, miraculous signs and resurrected lives accompanied the death of Jesus. Because His death was like no other. His death was effective and powerful. It wasn’t the end of something, but the beginning. Life as we know it was changed that day. The relationship between God and man changed that day. All because Jesus died. Thank You for sending Your Son as a sacrifice for me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men