We continue our daily meditations upon the supernatural ministry of the Lord Jesus. Today, we focus on three displays of God's power at the crucifixion of Christ:
Matthew’s Gospel records the first supernatural phenomena: “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land” (Matthew 27:45). Passover always occurred on a full moon, so a solar eclipse was out of the question during a full moon, and even if it could, an eclipse cannot last for three hours. This darkening sun was a sign of judgment and divine displeasure at what took place at Calvary. Jesus was bearing the wrath of God on sin during those three crucial hours. That was why Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46). Some commentators say the darkening of the sun was sent as a veil to cover the nakedness and sufferings of Christ.
The second supernatural phenomenon was that of a great earthquake that took place when Christ died, with tombs opening and dead people coming to life:
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:51-53).
Jerusalem is built on very rocky terrain with little soil for burying people. Most tombs are hewn from the surrounding rock face or built up from the ground and sealed with a slab, rock, or boulder. Could these be the split rocks to which the Gospel writer Matthew refers? Those there witnessed sealed tombs being rent apart and godly men and women arising and walking around! We do not know who these people were, only that they were holy men and women who had died and were buried. I will have to wait to get to heaven to ask questions about this event!
The third supernatural event was what took place in the temple. At the same time that Christ died, the temple curtain separating God from man was torn in two from the top of the curtain to the bottom, signifying this as a sign from heaven. Many priests came to faith in Christ (Acts 6:7) when they found out what happened at Calvary at 3 p.m., the traditional time for the congregational slaying of the lambs for Passover.
While thousands were in the temple courts for the ritual slaying of the Passover lambs, those ministering came out shocked when invisible hands tore the temple curtain, cloth as thick as a man's hand, right before their eyes. God tore the curtain to show Jews and Gentiles alike that the way into the very presence of God was open to all of us. Jesus took the sin barrier that kept man from enjoying a relationship with God out of the way. He paid the penalty for your sin and mine. "Calvary shows how far men will go in sin, and how far God will go for man's salvation" (H. C. Trumbull).
The Gospel is the news of a Living Savior Who died in your place so that you and I can know God. He took the punishment we deserved and nailed it to the cross, and if we will repent (change our minds and direction in life) and believe the Gospel (yield your life and trust to Christ and His saving work), then we will be saved (enjoy all the blessings of the covenant including eternal life). Will you trust Him? Keith Thomas