Tonight we conclude Matthew 27 by reading verses 32-66. So much has led up to this point during our study in Matthew. We have studied Jesus as He was born, grew His ministry and ultimately was hunted down for His claims. It has all been leading to His willing sacrifice.
Many things happen in this passage in sequence. It is interesting to read them as a list, so that we can see how the events of Jesus’s sacrifice unfolded:
1. A man named Simon is tasked to help Jesus bear His cross to Golgotha. Jesus was weakened by the scourging and could not carry it himself.
2. Jesus is nailed to the cross at Golgotha and His clothing is allocated to soldiers by casting lots, thus fulfilling prophecy.
3. Jesus is chastised by the crowd and sardonically labeled “The King of the Jews.”
4. Darkness comes over the land for three hours.
5. Jesus calls out to God, asking why He has been left to suffer in such a state.
6. Jesus dies.
7. The veil of the temple tears, rocks split and the earth quakes. Some people that were long dead rise from the grave and appear to others in the city (actually occurs after the Resurrection).
8. Roman guards admit that this Man surely was divine after seeing these miraculous occurrences.
9. Many women who were among His followers watched His crucifixion from afar. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s mother Mary.
10. A wealthy disciple of Jesus’ named Joseph provides a burial tomb for Him. A large stone seals the tomb as Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s mother Mary watch over the tomb.
11. Pilate allows the chief priests and Pharisees to seal the tomb further and set a guard over it to prevent what they fear would be disciples stealing the body.
Of course, Jesus’s body would leave the tomb but it would not be from someone stealing it. For Jesus’s claim from verse 63: “After three days I will rise” would come true and Jesus would rise from the dead.
Tonight’s passage is the culmination of many things: Old Testament prophecies, the fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem all mankind, the plan of the Jewish elite to kill Jesus, etc. But the focus that I would like us to concentrate on tonight is the culmination of Jesus’s prayers.
Recall how He prayed so earnestly in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed that He might not have to suffer so; He prayed that the task would pass from Him. But His desire to serve and to please Almighty God overruled his physical self-preservation and He said: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
Perhaps Jesus’s strongest example for us is that of self-denial. God calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him. We often ignore God’s commands and rely on His grace through Christ to save us. The apostle Paul warns against doing this in Romans 6:1.
When Christ died on the cross, He did so for us. And when we are baptized into Him, we enter into a holy relationship with God wherein the old sinning version of ourselves dies and our new self rises. We do not continue in sin, but rather we live for Jesus.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:1-4
How am I going to live for Jesus this week?