God Confirmed Christ’s Work

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God Confirmed Christ's Work

Jesus rose triumphantly over sin, death, and Hell after being captured and killed during the greatest crime the world has ever witnessed.
On a cross of wood, with carpenter’s tools, and “on a skull-shaped hill, on a sunny day outside of Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago when MANKIND MURDERED THEIR MAKER ”. There, on a hill called Calvary in full view of thousands of witnesses, was the day the Creator was crucified.
His name was Jesus, a peasant carpenter, who had carried on an itinerant relief work across all of Israel. Thousands, tens of thousands followed, heard, and witnessed some of the mightiest acts ever seen on the planet in history. But now He hangs there:
Seemingly Helpless
Shouldn’t Christ have done something on the cross if He were really God the Son? Yes, and He did. As we open to Matthew 27 we are looking at the scene, which highlights the mightiest of all Christ’s miracles. Matthew picks up with the drama from Noon (the 6th hour) to 3 PM (the 9th hour).
Matthew 27 records that despite Christ being scourged, nailed, and dying, nothing could stop Jesus Christ. Crucifixion, betrayal, and mockery didn’t stop Him. Not even the hatred of the Jewish leaders, and the cruelty of the Roman executioners. Nothing stopped Jesus then, and nothing stops Him today.
There are five final miracles from the Cross of Christ’s Crucifixion that were recorded to always remind us that Jesus can reach out to us from anywhere, at any time, and in any way that we need His touch. To show us His mighty power Matthew first tells us that when Christ hung on that cross of wood for you and for me:
He Touched The Sun. Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. (NKJV)

Transcript

Jesus Christ rose triumphantly as He stepped from the tomb after His death and burial, after the greatest crime that humanity ever committed in the history of mankind. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was when mankind murdered their maker. That’s the greatest conceivable crime there could be. Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 27. As Jesus, on a cross of wood made with carpenter’s tools, on a skull shaped hill outside of Jerusalem, nearly 2000 years ago, as Jesus was crucified it was humanity destroying their creator. Things haven’t changed. The creator is still under attack. He can’t be in the textbooks of our nation. He can’t hardly be in public conversation in our nation. In fact, as I was watching Michigan State barely lose yesterday, I was intrigued that the commentator said that one of the players out there actually went to a Christian school. I thought, wow, are you even supposed to say that in a public forum?

Matthew 27 tells us that Jesus, a peasant carpenter, who had carried on in itinerant relief work across all of Israel was now hanging on a cross. Tens of thousands of people had followed Him, had heard Him, had eaten the food that He had miraculously made, and they had witnessed the mightiest acts that had ever been seen on this planet in all of human history, but as they now stand out there in the distance and watch Him. He’s hanging on a cross, seemingly helpless. It’s almost like, if He was so great, if He was so powerful, and if He was everything He said He was, why doesn’t He do something? I’m sure that thought crossed many, many minds. The amazing thing is, starting in verse 45, Jesus did do something. In Matthew 27:45, often in our reading of these passages, we don’t notice those little details. Jesus, in quick succession accomplished what I like to call five mighty miracles to prove who He was. That He was who He said He was.

Most of all, His greatest miracle was that He says now, after this cross, I am freed up through my resurrection to do my greatest miracle anywhere and with anyone, at any time. The greatest miracle is the miracle I’ve experienced. Probably a vast majority of you have experienced it too. That is, Jesus Christ coming to us and forgiving us of our sins. Let me show you in verse 45, because Matthew picks up the drama from noon (that’s the sixth hour), to 3:00 PM (that’s the ninth hour). Starting in verse 45 and as I read down through, you follow through verse 54. I want you to see some of the most powerful attestations to who Jesus was.

Verse 45. “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani?’ That is ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?’ Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, ‘This Man is calling for Elijah!’ Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.’ And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!’ “

Let’s bow together for word of prayer this morning. Truly, we have gathered because You are the Son of God. Truly, we have lifted our voices, and our hearts have been stirred with the music this morning. We ask You to open our hearts and minds, that You might speak to us through Your word, and that we might truly understand what it means. That because You are the Son of God, that the greatest miracle of all has occurred in our hearts and lives when we believe and put our faith in you, O Christ, alone. Father, I pray that this morning, on the day we celebrate the resurrection that you accomplished Lord Jesus, by the power of the Spirit of God, by the will of your Father and our Father in Heaven, that you make the greatest miracle of all possible to everyone. I pray that anyone who has not known you personally, that on this resurrection Sunday, they would meet You, embrace You, turn from their sins to Your salvation, and receive everlasting life and forgiveness. We pray that as we seal this morning, this resurrection celebration with the Memorial that you are risen and that Your resurrection gives us endless life as we partake of that picture of you in communion. May this be the greatest resurrection day celebration we’ve ever participated in. Lord, maybe some for the very first time as believers will partake today. We ask that in Your precious name and for Your glory alone we pray, Amen.

Matthew 27 records that Christ despite being scourged, nailed, and dying, that nothing, not even the cross could stop His power. The crucifixion, the betrayal, the mockery couldn’t stop Him. Not even the hatred of the Jewish leaders. Not even the cruelty, that added cruelty, that those Roman executioners heaped upon Him. Nothing stopped Jesus that day. He proves it as we are going to look at these little details in this passage we read. That was to remind us that nothing stops Him today. His power was not limited, even in His weakest moment, hanging on the cross. His power is certainly not limited now, that all authority and power has been given to Him because of His resurrection.

There are five final miracles that Jesus performed from His cross. They were recorded by Matthew in these few verses to remind us that Jesus is powerfully able, even from the cross and even to this moment, to touch our lives. As Jesus hung on the cross of wood for you and me, first of all look at verse 45, He touched the sun. Do you remember what Jesus said? He says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness.” At the moment when the world was most against Him and crucifying Him, Jesus turned the lights off to underscore the fact of who He was. Have you ever thought about why this amazing detail is recorded in God’s word?

On the fourth day of creation week, the sun was born from the hand of Jesus Christ. Remember Colossians 1, John 1, 1 John 1 all say that He is the creator. He is the one, as Hebrews 11 says, that made from nothing, everything. On the fourth day, the thermo nuclear furnace at the core of the sun was lit. Jesus flung it off into space to warm and light the planet on which He was going to create humanity on the sixth day. The sun for all the 33 years or 12,235 days of Christ’s earthly life, that sun shone down upon its maker. The sun knew its creator and knew that it was fulfilling its purpose as it lit the planet for which God had brought it into existence to do. The sun watched Him heal and restore ruined lives and deformed bodies. On grassy hillsides the sun watched as thousands were fed. That vast solar furnace that flamed to life from Jesus’ hand then began to look down as one day those other created parts of creation, humans, began to kill the Creator.

The sun is 864,000 miles in diameter, 835 quadrillion cubic miles of intensely hot gasses. In fact, at the very core of the sun, it is 25 million degrees. 25 million. 25 million, 20 million, 5,000, it doesn’t make any difference to us, it’s just beyond our comprehension. I’ll tell you this. If you took one piece, of the core of the sun, that was the size of a Cheerio or your fingernail, if you had a piece of the sun that size and you brought it to Grand Rapids, it would kill every single one of us in this room this morning with the heat. That tiny of a piece was radiating from an hour away. That’s how vast and intensely powerful that thermo nuclear furnace is. Yet, Jesus Christ with the weakness of that crucifixion, reached up, snuffed it out like a birthday candle. There’s no human explanation for the sun going out. Eclipses last seven minutes, max. This was three hours. There’s no other explanation other than the light of the world flicked it off. That darkness was overwhelming. It was unexpected for those at the cross, just like it will be at the tribulation.

Jesus is going to do this again in Revelation 16:10. At the height of the tribulation hour He’s going to flick the sun off. It says that the people on the Earth are going to gnaw at themselves in pain, because of the impenetrable darkness that will descend upon this planet. In Genesis, the first thing Jesus did at creation was say, “let there be light.” The work of creation was done in the light. From the cross He reached up and snuffed out the light because the work of redemption was so horrible. God turning His back on His Son was so awesomely a reverent moment that God said I don’t want anybody to see this. Jesus turns the lights off and no one saw what happened. The crowds had heard the Sadducees and Pharisees, during Christ ministry, call for a sign. Jesus said, I’m not going to give you any sign except the sign that was given through Jonah the prophet. He talked about His resurrection. It’s amazing.

His disciples heard Him say this. “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I’m the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ “ How true that verse was, at that instant that the light went out. As a songwriter has well written. The darkness that comes when the light of the world is gone must have been horrifying to those people. Here’s what the songwriter said. “Might the sun in darkness hide and shut His glories in when Christ, the mighty Maker, died for man, the creature’s, sin.” At His birth the creator placed a new star in the sky, and at His death He reached up and turned the sun off for three hours. What a mighty miracle, what a sign to mankind that they were murdering their maker. Jesus as the light of the world first reached up and touched the sun.

Look at verse 51, He doesn’t stop there. He touches the temple in verse 51. It says in Matthew 27 “Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” You say, what’s going on? Why are all these things recorded? Again, just as the light of the world wanted to show who He was, also the great high priest who Jesus revealed Himself as, the one who ever lives to intercede for us, He wanted to show that there was a new way, now, to His presence. The Old Testament worship was centered at the tabernacle and then at the temple. A divinely designed liturgy was carried on for 1,500 years. The epicenter of that was this temple in Jerusalem. That temple had an altar of incense, a golden lampstand, and a table of showbread. It was all hidden from view by a massive hand-woven six inch thick curtain, what we would call a rug. It was 60 feet high, 30 some feet wide, and took hundreds of men to transport and lift it when it was put in place when the Herodian temple was completed. That massive rug, veil, had one loud message. That message was; stay out, you’re not welcome, holiness is on this side and you’re unholy, you can’t come in.

In fact, only one person once a year was allowed behind that big rug. That was the High Priest. Probably in the history of the entire worship of God in the Old Testament, no more than 50 men had ever made it behind that curtain, the 50 High Priests who were High Priest. That must have been a scene that day, as the priests were working and the High Priest was getting ready to do his duties, sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat. There were some priests pouring a handful of incense over the fire on the alter and changing the bread on the table. As they were going through all those motions there, lit by those candelabra’s, unaware of what was going on outside as it was already dark. Verse 51 says, that with an unearthly sound, that massive curtain was violently torn. Notice what it says in the text, “from top to bottom.” It’s almost as if the hands of God came and just tore it in half.

For the first time in nearly 1,500 years, common people could look upon the Ark and the mercy seat of God’s throne of grace and mercy. Never before seen by common people. God was declaring anyone who wishes may come in now, you’re welcome any time. That’s what Hebrews 4:16 says, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace,” and mercy, and find “help in time of need.” God was underscoring that as He tore that veil. Aren’t you glad we live on this side of the cross, that there’s no wall that says you can’t come, you’re not welcome, Jesus tore it in half. The light of the world snuffed out the sun to show who He was and the Great High Priest Himself tore the veil and said, come on in, I’m waiting for you.

Keep reading, look at the end of verse 51, because something else happens after that veil was torn. He touched the Earth, it says in verse 51, “The earth quaked and the rocks were split” open. Do remember, on Palm Sunday, Luke 19:40 Jesus said when they were saying, why are you letting all these people shout, and scream, and call Hosannah? Jesus said, if they weren’t doing that, He said the rocks would scream, the rocks would cry out. Here on the cross, in the greatest moment of history as it unfolds, no one is crying out Christ’s glory. Only days before, thousands and thousands had thronged Him shouting Hosanna. They treated Him like a king, but now no one raises their voice in protest. No one says, why are you crucifying the Christ, God the Son? It’s amazing. Where were they?

Bartimaeus, He made you see and you shouted after Him on the road to Jericho. Why are you so quiet now? Why aren’t you shouting at the foot of the cross? How about you Lazarus? It’s only a week ago He raised you from the dead. Where are you now? Can’t you say anything? How about Nicodemus? You came one night seeking and you found in Him eternal life. Why don’t you stand up and say something? He didn’t. Disciples, He took you everywhere. You witnessed His deity for three years. He calmed the sea, raised the dead, He puts shining eyes into dark empty sockets, He cast out demons, He loved you to the end; where are you now? Doesn’t anybody have anything to say? Can’t you speak up for Him? It was absolutely silent. No one protested Christ’s crucifixion. Since no one else would speak up, God picked a dying thief who would say in His dying moments; Jesus, remember me. Jesus took him with Him, that day, to Heaven. Jesus picked a pagan Roman governor to put over His head a declaration that He was the Messiah, the Christ, and He had it in three languages. Jesus picked the earth because it quaked and the rocks cried out in that huge convulsion of the earth, that their creator was being crucified. Jesus on the cross as the light of the world first reached up to touch the sun, as the Great High Priest He reached over and He touched the temple, and then as the creator of the universe He reached down and touch the earth.

Look at verse 52 because there’s another claim He made. He had earlier said in John chapter 5, that He was the final Judge. He says, you know what? You ought to be careful what you’re saying to me, you detractors. He says, I’m the one who everyone in the grave can hear, John 5:28 onward. My voice, He said, can be heard by everybody in the grave. I’m sure they really got a big charge out of that and laughed. They said, He thinks when He talks people can hear His voice in the grave and respond. He said, they would come forth when they hear His voice. Look what He does in verse 52 when He touches the graves. These little details, let’s go real slow so you don’t miss what it says.

Verse 52, “And the graves,” first of all, “were opened.” This earthquake, when the earth convulsed it didn’t just shake up things and break a few kitchen vessels or whatever little things were around to be broken. It says that something happened, and graves were wrenched open. They were popped, they were broken open. Look at this, many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. The tense, the way this is written, precisely in the Greek language it’s, as the ground shook, as the graves were popped open, many bodies were raised. Whoa. Have you thought about the implications of what is happening here? It doesn’t stop. Verse 53, those bodies that were raised, many of them in many graves all over the place, “coming out of the graves after His resurrection.” That means that at the cross on Friday, massive earthquakes, graves all over the place were popped open, bodies reappeared is what it says. Those bodies that are dissolved were reconstituted. On Sunday morning, look what it says, “after His resurrection, they went into the holy city.” They weren’t ghosts because it says, they “appeared to many.”

Have you thought what that means? Note in your Bibles these two verses, from God Himself, open and close with the same word, many. That word modifies all the statements. Many saints. Many graves. Some maybe had only been dead a few hours, others may have been buried for centuries. All were in graves, all were part of the many, all over Israel. They were touched from the cross by Jesus because Jesus claimed to be the only one in the universe that people in the graves could hear His voice. He was going to prove it and show people who they were crucifying.

Just like every other great earthquake, after it was over people began to go out and survey the damage, but unlike any other quake before they noticed something eerily strange all over Israel. From the north in Dan to the south in Beersheba, there were from top to bottom in the country, graves broken open. It was almost centered on graves. Perhaps as curious onlookers peered into the dark recesses, they could see eyes staring back at them. I bet they didn’t stay around very long for that. Your ultimate horror to go climbing into some grave, looking for some treasure, and to find someone in there looking back at you. Imagine what it was like. Amazingly, Jesus had touched the grave. Something strange was happening all over the country.

Then suddenly, right in step with God’s plan on Sunday morning, it began to happen right after Jesus stepped out from the grave. Many, it says in verse 52 and 53, many started to come out of their graves in resurrection bodies. Many started to march towards Jerusalem. Can you imagine the uncanny meetings that started going on as people saw these resurrected people? I wonder if they still were wrapped. I thought about this for a long time. Did He give them new clothes or were they still in those wrappings? The uncanny meetings.

I can imagine, out in Hebron near the cave of Machpelah, a farmer on Sunday morning which was part of the workday for the Jews, was out there plowing his farm. All of a sudden there was a man walking out of a cave. The farmer stopped his plow and this man says, hey. The farmer goes, well, hello there. Do I know you? The man from the grave says yes. He says, I am Father Abraham, formerly of Ur and most recently from the happy side of Hades. I’m walking to Jerusalem.

It doesn’t say Abraham rose, but it says many did. We don’t know who they were, but they were saints. Just like that, all over Israel, God’s word says many graves were open. Many saints were raised. Many saints set their faces towards Jerusalem. We don’t know which saints were raised. We just know they were raised and there were many of them. Can you imagine what it could have been like? People may have run into Elisha, Joseph, Isaac. Can you imagine the conversations as people may have spoken with Jacob, or David, or Samuel. What a commotion it must’ve been as what Paul calls, the first fruits of the resurrection of Christ, gathered in the holy city. Why do you think that almost the entire city turned out to hear Peter on Pentecost? Why do you think so many thousands completely did an about face and turned in faith to Christ. Many were raised. Many came to be witnesses of the miracle of Calvary.

After Jesus reached up to touch the sun, and reached over and touched the temple, and reached down and touch the earth, and reached under and touch the graves, finally as the Savior of the world, in verse 54 from the cross, Jesus did one more wonderful work. He touched the centurion. Matthew 27:54 says, “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’ “ Mark’s account is a little more pointed. Mark says that it was the centurion that said to the others that were standing there, when he had witnessed all this, he said that was the Son of God, that centurion.

For us, centurion, that’s like something from a movie or something. We don’t really deal with centurions. A centurion was a Roman soldier who was trained to never fear. That’s what a centurion was, he was fearless. As the most trusted of the soldiers of Caesar’s legions, these were the men who looked death in the face unflinchingly. They were the ones who would lock their shields and stand against anything that could be unleashed at them, and never turned back. Legionnaires, with their mighty shields in battle and marching against countless foes, never fearing. Have you ever paused to think about the scene of verse 54? What kind of amazing events these must have been to make a tough, calloused, hardened centurion fear greatly. He was the one that was closest to the scene. He was the one assigned by the Emperor to stand there until the executed criminal was done, and was dead, and there was no doubt about it. He had to witness Jesus Christ, eye to eye, for the whole time because that was his job. He never turned back.

That soldier had been born somewhere in the empire. Perhaps his father was a Legionnaire, he had listened to the stories as he grew up about the wonders of ancient Rome. He knew its Nobles, its temples, its virtues, and its fearless Legionnaires. As he grew, perhaps his father took him on the Holidays to that arena. He had seen gladiators fighting to the death, and mighty horse and chariot races. One day in his life he made a choice. He made a choice to become a Legionnaire, to give his oath to Caesar, to become one of Caesar’s finest. The barracks became his home. He was taught to discipline his body, to obey orders, to fight without fear. He learned to kill. He learned to drink and to curse by the gods. He was calloused and hard, a soldier of Rome.

As he distinguished himself in his duties, he rose to become a leader of a hundred, a centurion. Then, one day on the bulletin board of his barracks a notice was posted, dispatching him. He went to the most despised corner of the empire, not to the lovely coastal port of Roman Cesarea. No, of all places he was in Jerusalem, a city seething with religious fanaticism and zealots, and ready to explode at any moment. As a Legionnaire, he respected Rome and obeyed. He served Caesar in Jerusalem. One morning he was summoned by the Roman Governor, Pilate. There in Pilate’s palace, Pilate looked him in the eye and said, take those three, crucify them, and report back to me that they were dead. Who were they? It really didn’t matter to that centurion. He’d already been a part of crucifying 30,000. It was just a job. He heard one of them thought he was some kind of king. We’ll show him what those who rivaled a true king will go through.

In verse 54, it’s 3:00 PM, and as that verse tells us when the Centurion and those who were with him in his detachment, as they stood watching Jesus, as they saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly. Then, that Centurion confessed that Jesus was who He claimed to be, that He was God the Son, God in human flesh. He saw the sign over His head. He knew who He claimed to be. He had heard and he confessed. That’s the greatest of all the miracles of the cross. That’s the miracle Jesus is still doing. Jesus reached down from that cross and drew that centurion to Himself.

I’ve often wondered what it was like when that man went home after his tour of duty. People came up to him and said hey, you’re different. What happened to you over there in Palestine? I can hear the centurion saying, I met a man one day, on a place called Calvary. He was dying on a cross of wood and that man was God. That man changed my life. He was never the same. I wonder on this Sunday, if you have experienced the greatest of all the miracles. Jesus is still touching hearts today. This isn’t just a story in a book that’s 2,000 years old, this is ongoing and alive. The Gospel declares that whoever, personally, from their heart of hearts will call on the name of the Lord, He said, I’ll save. Jesus still touches hearts today. When He hung on the cross of wood for you and me He confirmed His deity as He performed these touches from Calvary.

We worship the light of the world because He lit the sun. Then, He reached up and He darkened it. We worship the way to God, as John 14:6 calls Christ, because He tore open that dividing wall to the temple. We worship the maker of all things, who alone can make the earth quake. We worship Him who is the resurrection and the life, because He’s the only one that can speak and those in the grave can hear and come forth. We worship the savior of the world. In fact, John put it this way, “The Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world,” because He reached down and touch that calloused, pagan, hardened heart of that centurion. That’s what He still does today. Have you met Jesus? Has he changed your life? Jesus promised that “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

This morning, Jesus actually came to this service. In fact, He comes every Sunday to every church where He is proclaimed and lifted up, and where His word is opened and declared to be the voice of God.

Father in Heaven, I thank you for this precious moment we can share, that we can worship you, who is the resurrection and the life. You are the Great High Priest. You are the Creator. You who is the one who is the final Judge. You are the savior of the world. The only limit on the atonement is the unbelief of those who will not turn in faith to You. I pray that someone this morning, will by faith, trust you O Christ and make this communion their very first one as a child of God, forgiven. May they ask for, and by faith receive Your precious cleansing, Your death in their place. Thank you for this bread. As we hold it, and as we sing to you, may we celebrate that you are risen indeed. In the name of Jesus, we thank you, Amen.


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