Summary: The Meaning of Easter
For: April 22, 2018
Reading: Matthew 27:1-66, 28:1-20
The Sacrificial Lamb of God
We’ve been talking about darkness and sin a lot lately, haven’t we? We have also been talking a lot about the light that shines through that darkness for all who seek it.
Let’s begin our Easter message with one more time of darkness.
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And 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?” Matthew 27:45
I would like you to close your eyes for a minute or two and reflect on just what that would be like. Imagine three hours of total darkness. So dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. No ambient light anywhere! It is so dark that you can’t even walk home or do anything. Would you not be in a near state of panic? I sure would. Remember, no one had any inkling that this was going to occur.
Jesus had been telling everyone and mostly His disciples that He was indeed going to die and ascend to heaven. He also said that He would send a Helper [some versions refer to Him as the Comforter] to be with them after He is gone.
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—" John !4:16
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
Even so, they just didn’t get it. When Christ died on the cross, there were many who began to doubt that He was Who He said He was.
So, not only was there this panic in total darkness but the confusion and doubt as to Who Jesus really was and wonder why He was dead.
The events following His death are all very significant and revealing of God’s love for us.
When the three hours of darkness fell over the land the veil [curtain] that separated the inner sanctum where the ark of the covenant was maintained and only accessible to the head priest was torn from top to bottom. The ark of the covenant was the representation of the presence of God Almighty. No one had access to God except via the chief priest. That is until that veil was torn. How was it that it was torn from top to bottom? By the hand of God Himself! It would have been impossible for anyone to see what they were doing in the dark and the height of the temple was so great that it would have been impossible for that curtain to be torn by any other source.
“Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mark 15:38
And the significance is by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, all of mankind now had direct access to God via Christ and no longer via the priest or any other.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” John 14:6
Think about that a moment. The Israelites had travelled for years in the desert following a cloud of smoke by day and a flame by night, with the Ark of the Covenant before them.
Now that the veil which represented our separation from God has been torn open, they then and we now have direct access to God and follow Him through our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus died on that cross. We can be sure of that death. It was the Roman custom to leave those crucified on the cross to remain on that cross for several days as a warning to the populace of the consequences of violating Roman law.
However, this Sanhedrin priest Joseph went to retrieve the body of Christ to prepare Him for burial in a tomb that Joseph had prepared. To get around the Roman custom of displaying the crucified body for days, Joseph went to Pilate and asked permission to bury Jesus. Pilate did grant that permission BUT not until after he was assured by the centurion (soldier guarding the body) that Jesus was indeed dead.
“Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.”