Summary: Jesus has won us the victory, and we need to start living in that victory.
The Victory of the Messiah
Text: Matt. 27:45-61
1. Illustration: John Stott is his book The Cross of Christ, wrote, "It is impossible to read the New Testament with being impressed by the atmosphere of joyful confidence which pervades it, and which stands out in relief against the rather jejune (superficial) religion that often passes for Christianity today. There was no defeatism about the early Christians; they spoke rather of victory...For if they spoke of victory, they knew they owed it to the victorious Jesus...It is he who 'overcame,' 'has triumphed,' and moreover did it 'by the cross'" (223).
2. My friends, it is high time we stop living in defeat! It is time to live in victory!
3. The cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of victory in human history. We can see this based on the fact that...
a. The crucifixion affected nature
b. The crucifixion affected the witnesses
c. The crucifixion affected courage
4. Let's all stand as we read Matt. 27:45-61.
Proposition: Jesus has won us the victory, and we need to start living in that victory.
Transition: First thing we notice is...
I. The Crucifixion Affected Nature (45-49).
A. Darkness Fell Across the Whole Land
1. We can truly say that when Jesus died on the cross all hell broke lose.
a. It broke lose of all the chains that had held us in bondage.
b. It broke lose of the curse of death that had besieged all human beings since the Garden of Eden.
c. By his death on the cross Jesus obliterated the power of hell!
2. Matthew tells us that as Jesus was dying on the cross, "At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock."
a. Matthew tells us that darkness fell over the entire land of Israel. Luke makes it more clear, saying that the sun disappeared for three hours.
b. Luke 23:45 (NLT)
The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.
c. This was an extraordinary divine intervention because it could not have been a natural eclipse of the sun as the Jewish Passover was celebrated during a full moon (Horton, 633).
d. What is so amazing about this phenomenon was that it appeared at the time of day when the sun is the brightest.
e. This darkness is appropriate considering the horrible suffering and divine abandonment experienced by Jesus (Turner, 363).
f. Darkness symbolizes the judgment of God or, more specifically, the arrival of the day of the Lord.
g. We do not know how this darkness occurred, but it is clear that God caused it.
h. Nature testified to the gravity of Jesus' death, while Jesus' friends and enemies alike fell silent in the encircling gloom.
i. The darkness on that Friday afternoon was both physical and spiritual.
3. Then Matthew tells us, "At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
a. There is a link between what happened in verse 45 and verse 46. The first was an outward sign of the second. Jesus spoke in a loud voice at the same time that the darkness was passing away (Horton, 633).
b. Jesus had not spoken since his short response to Pilate. He now breaks his silence not to respond to his mockers but to cry out to the Father.
c. Jesus was not questioning God; he was quoting the first line of Psalm 22—a deep expression of the anguish he felt when he took on the sins of the world, which caused him to be separated from his Father.
d. This was what Jesus dreaded as he prayed to God in the garden to take the cup from him.
e. The physical agony was horrible, but even worse was the period of spiritual separation from God.
f. Jesus suffered this double death so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God.
4. However, "Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah."
a. The bystanders misinterpreted Jesus' words and thought he was calling for Elijah.
b. In Hebrew "my God" sounds like the first two sylables of the name Elijah, and so some bystanders misunderstood Jesus comments as an attempt to call for Elijah (Turner, 364).
c. Because Elijah ascended into heaven without dying, they thought he would return again to rescue them from great trouble (Malachi 4:5).
d. Malachi 4:5 (NLT)
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.
e. At their annual Passover meal, each family set an extra place for Elijah in expectation of his return.
5. Then Matthew says, "One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”