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123: “It is Finished”

May 15, 2009

Major Text:

Matthew 27:51-56
John 19:31-42
Matthew 27:61-66

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 27:51-56         Mark 15:38-41           Luke 23:45-49
Matt. 27:57-58        Mark 15:42-45           Luke 23:50-52               John 19:31-38
Matt. 27:59-60        Mark 15:46                  Luke 23:53-54               John 19:39-42
Matt. 27:61-66         Mark 15:47                 Luke 23:55-56

Outline:

  1. The Announcement of Jesus’ Death Matt. 27:51-56; John 19:31-35
  2. The Burial of Jesus’ Body John 19:36-42; Matt. 27:61
  3. The Guarding of Jesus’ Tomb Matt. 27:62-66

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Jesus has been crucified. He is dead. It is finished and the announcement of His death is for all to hear. For the Jews and their leaders, the Temple curtain has been torn in two. The New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant. There is no further need for their High Priest because the supreme sacrifice for the sins of ALL people has been made by the unblemished righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified. Atonement for sin has been made once for all and for all time. For the Romans/Gentiles who had no time for religion or God, the earth shook and the rocks split. The Creator God spoke and the people were terrified. For the believers, the tombs were opened and many holy people came out after Jesus’ resurrection and witnessed in Jerusalem. The resurrection of believers is real. The bottom line of these incidents [announcements] is what the Centurion said, “truly this was the Son of God”. The scripture was fulfilled according to Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10. God is in control. He is Sovereign. Jesus was obedient unto death that we might have eternal life.

The women watched and mourned from a distance and stayed to see where they buried Jesus. These women were believers from Galilee and perhaps there were others. See Lesson 34. These were women who had a significant part in helping Jesus minister to the people.

Because of time constraints, Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus received permission to take the body, prepare it, and place it in a nearby tomb located in a garden. This is thought to be Joseph’s personal tomb. This scripture also gives us insight into the faith of Nicodemus after meeting with the Lord at the beginning of His ministry. He, no doubt, became a believer and was a minority voice in the Sanhedrin.

The next day the Chief Priest asked Pilate to guard the tomb because they had realized that Jesus had predicted His resurrection within three days after dying. This was a necessary precaution to prevent any type of mischief of the part of His disciples. So the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and it was sealed so that proof would exist if someone were to tamper with the stone.

Matthew 27:52-53 is an interesting passage and is subject to a variety of interpretations. See my comments on Ephesians 4:7-9 and on I Peter 3:18-20. These passages could be related and then again it may be best to keep them separate and consider them by themselves. This incident with the tombs being opened may just be an example proof of the bodily resurrection of believers. Enoch and Elijah were taken up. Jesus will be taken up but He is the Son of God. So perhaps this is an example too because not all believed in a resurrection of the dead. Some say these are the “first fruits” of the resurrection. I have difficulty accepting that premise because Moses and Elijah were from heaven and with the Lord at His transfiguration. These people were called “saints”. Does that mean they were saints when they died or did they become saints, assuming Jesus descended into hell and preached the gospel to those who were before, thus making saints of those who accepted Him as the Son of God who died for their sins. Many people do not accept the concept that Jesus entered hell. I personally don’t have any trouble with that premise in that Jesus bore the sins of the world and became sin in my place. Sin has no place other than in Hell. Jesus, the Righteous One, was able to enter hell and leave because His righteousness exceeded the power of death and hell. In fact He is the one who created hell as the abode of the unrighteous. Regardless, what belief you accept regarding this incident is not critical to one’s salvation. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. We will know the truth in our resurrection, when we meet Him face to face.

Lessons/Applications:

1. No doubt about this, Scripture was fulfilled with the death of Jesus.

2. The reality and importance of Faith is confirmed with the death of a believer just as Jesus’ claims were confirmed at His death.

3. Life changed with the death of Jesus. Nature was shaken. The ground shook. Graves were opened and many learned the reality of the resurrection and eternal life. The resurrection of the dead is real. Saints were resurrected and became witnesses of the resurrection truth. But remember, the witness of a live person is longer than a dead person. We are to be His witnesses in life and in death.

4. Respect for another is important during their life and in their death. One is filled with gladness. The other is filled with sadness. But Hope is eternal. Take advantage of the opportunities given you to serve your fellow man in the Name of Christ.

5. With the sealing of the tomb, the Jewish leaders sealed their fate. We can seal up our heart in unbelief or we can have our heart sealed with the Holy Spirit by expressing our faith in Jesus Christ.

6. Even in the death of His Son, God speaks with a loud voice. Heaven and earth tremble before His Sovereignty.

7. The New Covenant began with the tearing of the Temple Veil. We need not fear death when coming before a Holy God to confess our sin and ask His forgiveness.

The Roman Guard was There and Believed.

What about You?

The Jews had God’s Word and Refused to Believe.

What about You?

We have God’s Word and the Historical Evidence.

What about You?

Do you Believe?

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