Summary: The Death and Resurrection of Jesus prove the great power and compassion of God.
1. Symbol of Power
Several years ago, Menelik II became emperor of Ethiopia and reigned for 20 years. He was a powerful ruler who transformed his country from a collection of semi-independent states into a united nation.
As part of his efforts to modernize his country he ordered 3 electric chairs shipped in from New York, but when they arrived there was a problem. Back then Ethiopia didn't have electricity. Now he had a problem - he had 3 electric chairs that he couldn't use. How would he solve his problem?
He had a stage built and had one of the electric chairs secured to it... then he used it as his throne. (C. Barry McCarty The Lookout 4/16/2000 p. 7) That's odd isn't it? The symbol of the power of his kingdom was an instrument of death.
2. The cross reminds us of Jesus' death and ultimate authority
3. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are closely tied to one of the most important events in the bible -- the Exodus from Egypt.
a. The original Passover
b. Plagues including death of the firstborn
c. Lamb's blood protected the Hebrews
d. All fulfilled in the cross
4. Easter is a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus. In our study of The Story we have come to the reason for the resurrection -- the death of Jesus
a. Crucifixion -- ultimate form of death
b. Great means of intimidation
c. Prolonged Pain -- inability to breathe
d. Insult distance
5. There are many aspects to his crucifixion and resurrection, let us concentrate on three this morning -- Matthew 27.45-54
I. God Split the Sky (Darkness) -- Matthew 27.45-50
A. The Blowing of the Shofar
1. Times of sacrifice and prayer -- 9 AM and 3 PM
2. Reminder of the Binding of Isaac and the salvation by the ram caught by his horns
3. Jesus was crucified at the third hour (9 AM) -- Mark 15.25
4. Darkness from Noon (6th hour) until the ninth hour -- 3 PM -- another blowing of the Shofar
B. Pictures in the Darkness
1. The Ninth Plague in Egypt -- Exodus 10.21-29
2. The death of the firstborn (10th Plague) -- this time, God's firstborn died to save his firstborn nation (Exodus 4.22)
3. Evil's apparent victory
5. Reversal of creation darkness from light/chaos from order
6. Yet, God is present, even in the darkness
II. God Split the Temple Curtain (27.50b-54)
Wizard of Oz -- Don't look behind the curtain -- God says, "Look!"
A. Curtain's Purposes
1. A point of separation -- Holy Place from Most Holy Place
2. A Restricted Access -- only High Priest -- once each year
3. A Veiled Mystery
B. Purposes in Tearing the Curtain
1. Universal Access to God -- Hebrews 4.16
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
2. Understanding/belief -- the Centurion -- Matthew 27.54
3. Grief of God
4. Change of Address for God -- tent to temple to hearts of men -- Revelation 21.3
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
III. God Split the Earth (Matthew 27.54)
A. The Death of Jesus Impacted the Earth -- Romans 8.18-22
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
B. The Death of Jesus Impacted the Dead
Three men participating in army war games were hit with paint pellets, which were fired at them by their opponents. According to the rules of the war games they were legally dead and no longer permitted to participate.
The general's Jeep got stuck and he insisted that they push it out of the mud for him.
They said, "we can't. We're dead."
The General told his driver, "Go get some of those dead bodies over there and put them under these tires so we can get some traction."
They got up and helped the General get his jeep out of the mud.