“Truly this was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:32-66 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.
33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.
35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
38 At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.
45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 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?” 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56 Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
Today’s text is filled with so many things that there is no end to what we could learn from it and apply to our lives. We read and study the word, not to learn to follow rules, but rather for an ongoing and on growing revelation of Jesus; so that we may know Him more intimately. Just like God supplied fresh manna, every morning, to the Israelites to sustain them in the wilderness, so too will He provide fresh revelation from His word, if we will faithfully seek it. The Israelites did not need to go to a different place each morning. It was God’s provision that was new, not the place where they found it. In the same way, we can go to God’s word, day after day and year after year. There will still be new and fresh revelation and understanding waiting for us.
In today’s text, we pick up after Jesus had been flogged and beaten. The text says: As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. Jesus, God in flesh, the creator of all things, the one who calmed storms and performed all sorts of miracles, was so severely beaten that He no longer had the physical strength to bear the cross. This tells us a few things. First about Jesus, even though He was fully God, He became fully man, just as we are. His physical body had the same limitations that we do. He felt pain the same as us. He was not immune to the whip that tore His flesh. Yet what He did, He did willingly for us. Isaiah 53:5 says: He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. So much was Jesus willing to suffer for us that the text says: When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. Wine and gall were given to those who were crucified as a drug, to render them unable to fully feel the pain. Jesus refused. He would not diminish the He paid for our redemption.
What we can learn and apply for ourselves, from these verses, is that if Jesus, God in flesh, was unable to physically bear the weight of the cross, we should accept that we too will need the help of others at times. Galatians 6:2 says: Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. There is something else though that we also should learn from these verses. The lesson of Simon of Cyrene is this: While we are encouraged and called to help others when the weight of their burden is too great, like Simon, we can only bear it to the place of Calvary. After carrying the cross for Jesus, when they reached Golgotha, Simon had to lay it down. Simon bore the weight of the cross, but only Jesus could bear the weight of the sin of the world on the cross. We too, when we bear others burdens, should only carry them to the cross. There we should lay them down, giving them to Jesus. As Isaiah 53:5 says: He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. It is all past tense. Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished!” There is no reason for us to carry a burden which has already been borne for us.
The text says: Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 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?” Jesus is and was light. As life was being taken from His body, so also was light being taken from the world. 1 Peter 3:18 says: Christ also died for sins once for all. Every sin of every person was borne by Jesus, all at once, in that moment, on the cross. The darkness that was upon Him, caused Him for the first and only time in eternity, to be separated from the Father. Throughout His ministry Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing and He only said what He heard the Father saying. Now, because of the sin of the world, because of my sin and your sin, He felt abandoned, separated from the Father. God’s promise to us is: “He will not fail you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) Jesus was forsaken so that we would never be.
Today’s text ends saying: Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. Many today, like the chief priests and Pharisees, try to change what Jesus has said and what He has done. The efforts of those today who attempt to discredit the resurrection of Christ will be no more successful than the actions of those who secured the grave. There is no power that could keep Christ in the grave. Man cannot hinder or undo the resurrection of Christ, either by might or by reason. Just as Jesus willingly bore our sins on the cross, He also willed to rise again. In John 10:17-18, Jesus says: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit for fresh revelation from Your word each day. Thank You that through Your word I know You more intimately. Thank You for the cross and the resurrection. Thank You for the finished work of the cross, that You have already done all that needs to be done. Through knowing You more intimately, may I become more like You, that others would see Your words not written only on pages, but on my life. Amen.