People were in a hurry. Pilgrims jammed the roads into Jerusalem. Preparations were being made to celebrate the Passover. And offer the Paschal lamb.
Ironically, few realized that God’s prophesied Paschal Lamb was being offered that very Friday. And those who saw Jesus’ crucifixion had little idea of what was really happening.
Yet, it was as if all nature said, “Stop!” “Look!” “Listen!”
Paul wrote, “That all creation groans” as he spoke of waiting for Christ to come again and the revelation of our glorified state. But on this occasion creation groaned as the Creator hung dying on the cross.
Matthew records it.
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land….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.
The Sun Darkened
At the exact time the noon day sky should have shone brightly, darkness enveloped the land. The sun stopped shining. Nature groaned. This wasn’t a solar eclipse. Or cloud cover. Or a thick fog.
It was a supernatural message from God. The Bible connects darkness with judgment. Doom. And displeasure. It was man’s darkest three hours. He, who was the “light of the world,” was being killed. The Son of Man was being unjustly executed. The Creator of the Sun was despised and rejected.
The Temple Veil Torn
The Temple veil was a curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. The only person who could enter the Holy of Holies was the High Priest. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he brought a blood sacrifice as an offering for sin.
When Jesus died the veil was torn in two. It was God’s way of dramatically symbolizing that Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to atone for our sins. The ritualistic Levitical system was finished. Jesus became our High Priest. He secured our redemption. Purchased our pardon. Set us free. And gave us access to the Throne of Grace (Heb. 9:11-12; 10:4; 4:16)
The Earth Quaked
In the Old Testament an earthquake demonstrated Jehovah’s power. Often His judgment. And sometimes His anger. When Jesus died the earthquake was so powerful that rocks were spilt in two!
The cross demonstrated God’s wrath against sin. John MacArthur called it “A kind of divine punctuation mark, perhaps signifying the fact that sin had cost His Son so much.”
Indeed creation groaned!
The Dead Raised
Friday’s final miracle was the opened graves. Evidently the earthquake split open the sepulchers. The dead were raised to life. But Matthew clearly says they didn’t appear in Jerusalem until after Jesus’ resurrection!
All of this caused the Centurion and those standing guard to be filled with fear. Their response was emphatic. “Truly this was the Son of God!”
What began as an ordinary Friday for so many, ended in a supernatural, dramatic display of God’s power over the natural world. But he wasn’t finished yet!
The cross, a symbol of shame, became an object of glory when Jesus’ victoriously arose from the dead. And so Paul would proclaim:
“Jesus Christ our Lord” was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Friday’s groaning became Sunday’s glory. And it is ours as well. Whatever you are facing today, come to the cross. See the power of God. Feel His presence. And rest in His promise. Sunday is coming! You, too, will be raised in glory!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman