Read: Matthew 27:62-66
and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ (Matthew 27:63 ESV)
Once Jesus’ body had been entombed a group of religious zealots gathered before Pilate. This was the same group that had had Jesus murdered. The same group that had regularly pitched a fit over Jesus performing miracles on the Sabbath were gathering with Pilate on the Sabbath to get someone to seal the tomb.
They remembered Jesus’ own words. They remembered his promise to rise again. And they were so blinded by their religious idiocy that they thought to thwart it, proof that they never actually comprehended what was about to happen.
Pilate granted their wish. The tomb was sealed. Guards were posted. The religious goons were satisfied. No one was going to steal he body of Jesus. No one would make false claims about his resurrection.
And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9 ESV)
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:57-60 ESV)
Isaiah lived and prophesied about 700 years before the time of Jesus. His writings have so many references to Christ that his book is often referred to as the fifth Gospel. One of Isaiah’s predictions was that Jesus would be buried in a tomb given to him by a rich man.
Joseph of Arimathea was a rich councilman, and a secret follower of Jesus. He used his political power and wealth to influence the Romans to give him Jesus’ body for an early burial. All of it happened so fast that Jesus was buried on the same day he was crucified.
Joseph played a pivotal part in the history of Christianity. Do you think he knew how important his tomb would be when he was having it cut? Probably not. But he took his wealth and power and offered them to God to be used for His purpose. It is an incredible lesson.
What we have is not ours alone. We are stewards. How can we use it to bless others? How can we put our assets to work for God’s plan?
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54 ESV)
For everyone who comes to belief in Christ, there is a defining moment, there is the moment that each recognizes Jesus as the unique Son of God. For many it is a change in posture. Where once they were anyagonistic toward faith, they now embrace it openly. For some it is just a moment of clarity where they see it as something they always knew they were looking for and just weren’t sure where to find it.
Truly, Jesus was the Son of God. It is the same revelation that changed the face of the Middle Eastern world nearly 2000 years ago. He lived and died a poor traveling teacher and preacher. But he was, and is, the Son of God.
He died at the hands of jealous men. He was murdered unjustly to satisfy justice for all. Truly, he was the Son of God.
The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52, 53 ESV)
What happens after you die? That is the question of upmost importance to so many thinkers. There are a multitude of varying opinions and ideas. Some think nothing waits after the last breath is drawn. And for everyone else there many belief systems.
Christianity, like Old Testament Judaism, presents the notion of an afterlife in which you retain your identity. An eternal existence spent in either Heaven or Hell. The remarkable event of the mass revivifaction witnessed after the crucifixion points out the truth of the afterlife. All of those people, called saints, came back for a period. People saw them and knew them.
Jesus died, but what happens when the Immortal One wraps Himself in mortality and allows it to be extinguished? Well, death has no hold on the One who conceived of life itself. Jesus would rise from the dead.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51 ESV)
Jesus died and a small yet strong earthquake took place. Why? What about the death of Jesus was so powerful that it caused creation to tremble? I don’t know.
Was it a physical manifestation of a spiritual shift that took place? As the work of Christ on the cross was finished, did the the Earth itself react? Or was it something else?
Personally, it is enough for me to read the account and realize that there were physical geological manifestations of Christ’s spiritual work. Jesus is the Rock. Upon him lay the hopes, prayers, and foundation for our eternal well-being.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV)
Have you ever felt forsaken? Perhaps you have. It’s that wretched feeling you get when someone you have absolute trust in has abandoned you. But being forsaken is more than just a feeling of abandonment. It is an action. It is being walked away from. It is having someone turn their back on you in a moment of absolute need.
Jesus needed God the Father for instruction, encouragement, and support. But just in the moment when Jesus’ need was greatest God was out of his reach. It sounds absolutely horrible doesn’t it? If that were how the story ended it truly would be horrible.
You see, Jesus became the recipient of all human sin, for every person for all of history—past, present, and future. He accepted all of it onto himself. And then he placed himself between us and God the Father. Being a perfect man, in perfect communion with God, he was accustomed to a direct line of communication with God. However, sin interrupted that. Our sin.
As Jesus took the sin of the world, he isolated himself from the glory of God Almighty. God did not forsake Jesus out of anger, malice, or disgust. And he doesn’t turn his back on you or I when we find ourselves making poor decisions. No, God forsook the sin that Christ had recieved—sin which exacted its price upon the Son of God. Jesus was momentarily forsaken, but he was not forgotten. Today, the children of God stand in a place made ready by the sacrifice of Christ. A place where Scripture declares that we are neither forsaken nor forgotten.
“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:43 ESV)
Jesus was being ridiculed and mocked as he hung upon the cross. Many gathered nearby to hurl insults aimed at Jesus’ assertion that he was the Son of God. The unbelievers present saw opportunity to manipulate the situation for their pleasure. They sarcastically threw Jesus’ identity, mission, and role in his face. Jesus never wavered in his trust for God.
When you know who you are in God you can trust Him. And the first part of that is simply knowing God Himself. With a cognitive knowledge and recognition of God and who He is to you comes the opportunity to develop an understanding for the implications that reality has on your own life. Implications that can be so profoundly impactful that they anchor your trust to God. That’s the way it was for Jesus.
Once you have came to terms with the identity that flows from God to you—mission is only a heartbeat away. Just as God pours identity into you, He also puts mission before you. Mission is the great purpose for your life. It is you cause. It is God-mandated, divinely appointed. A man on mission will find a level of satisfaction and fulfillment so deeply entrenched in the peace of God that his trust for God will be unshakable.
Identity and mission work together to push you to your role. Identity answers who and whose you are. Mission answers what you should do. Role is the practical application of both—it is about being who you are and doing what you should do.
The mob didn’t understand that about Jesus. His trust lay in a place beyond their mental or spiritual capacity to fathom. Yours can too.