22 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 27:32-66

We are reaching the climax of the book of Matthew. We will end this lesson at what seems to be a low point but just wait for next week!

In our lesson last week, Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion. After this death sentence, He is taken to Golgotha, a hill just outside the city of Jerusalem. This fulfilled the law that the sin offering had to be made outside the city. Jesus is our sin offering.

Criminals who were being crucified had to carry their own crosses. But Jesus couldn’t carry His cross the whole journey. When He can’t carry the cross anymore, the soldiers pull Simon of Cyrene from the crowd and force him to carry Jesus’ cross. Simon carries the cross and follows behind Jesus as He walks to the place where He will be crucified.

Jesus is nailed to the cross at 9 a.m. The soldiers watching the crucifixion offer Jesus wine mixed with gall, which was a narcotic. It would have dulled Jesus’ pain and suffering on the cross. Jesus refuses the drink. He wants to remain clear minded and in control.

Many people mock and insult Jesus while He is on the cross. Jesus speaks to God and says, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Many others call on Him to save Himself from the cross. The chief priests claim they will believe if Jesus saves Himself. Jesus knows that no miraculous sign would change their minds.

Two criminals are crucified next to Jesus. One insults Jesus, but the other rebukes the first criminal. In the midst of His suffering, Jesus forgives the second criminal and promises him eternal life.

A few friends and disciples remained with Jesus at the cross, including His mother and the disciple John. But many of His other followers are scattered and nowhere to be seen.

Through all of this, Jesus remained faithful to God’s will. He willingly suffered on the cross for us. Jesus’ death on the cross saves us from the guilt and power of sin.

While Jesus is on the cross, there is darkness from noon to 3 p.m. Around 3 p.m., Jesus cries out, “It is finished!” He was proclaiming that the wrath of God was paid in full. Then Jesus dies. When Jesus dies, there is an earthquake, there is a resurrection of some dead saints and the curtain of the temple is torn in two. This act is a symbol that the barrier between God and man is forever removed. Because of Jesus’ death, all people can approach God directly through faith in Jesus.

Jesus’ death demands a response. The earth responded. The righteous people in their tombs responded. The temple responded. The centurion responded by proclaiming Jesus was the Son of God. What is your response?

After Jesus dies, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. They risked everything (lives, reputations, income, etc.) to step out and demonstrate their faith. They lovingly remove Jesus’ body from the cross, wrap it in burial cloths and cover it in 75 pounds of spices. Then they place Jesus’ body in the tomb Joseph had prepared for his own burial.

The religious leaders tell Pilate that Jesus said He would rise again. They ask Pilate to guard the tomb to be sure the disciples cannot steal Jesus’ body. The religious leaders seal the tomb and post guards in front. As if that could stop Jesus from rising again!

Things to Think About

  • Jesus forgave one of the criminals because he demonstrated his faith in God. Even near the end of his life, the criminal showed he believed in God. There is no wickedness that God will not forgive if you go to Him for forgiveness.
  • The people watching Jesus’ crucifixion may have thought His life was out of control. But that wasn’t true. Even when things in your life seem out of control, God is still in control. Jesus never went off course. He remained faithful to His Father and never questioned His Father’s will.
  • Do I believe God is in control of all things? Do I act like I believe it?
  • If I believe that Jesus fully was in control at all times during His death on the cross, do I trust Him with my family? With my career? With my church? With my life? Will I surrender all to Jesus?
  • Christ became sin for us and paid the penalty of death for us. When God looked at Jesus, He didn’t see Jesus but our sins. God turned away from Jesus because He couldn’t look at our sins on Jesus.
  • How can we love the sins in our lives that caused Jesus such great suffering?