Tonight let us look at the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ represents so much for mankind. He embodies God’s most important blessing, He is our highest example of human behavior, and He brings us peace of the kind that we cannot find this side of heaven.
Please read with me in Matthew 27 in verses 32-66. So much has led up to this point at the end of Jesus’ life. Jesus has grown His ministry and ultimately was hunted down for His claims. It has all been leading to this 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.
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.
This 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 for us this morning is what this sequence of events means for us.
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.” His devotion to God meant an abundance of blessing for us.
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.
In His death, we have life. In His pain and suffering, we have the comfort of forgiveness. But as he broke free from the confines of death, He leads the way for us to shake off the shackles of sin and live pure before our God.