Matt 27:51-53 Death and Resurrection 3/31/2002
#1. The Veil (Matt 27:50-53)
#2. The Holy City (Heb 12:22)
#3. This Was the Son of God (Matt 27:54, II Cor 4:3-4)
Please open y. B. to the E. to the Heb, ch. 9. (2X) The title of t. S: Death and Resurrection. During the fifteen centuries that the nation of Israel was under the Ceremonial Law in the tabernacle, or later in the temple, a compartment was closed off by a very thick curtain, called the veil, which separated the holy place from the rest of the tabernacle, or the temple. The holy place contained the Ark of the Covenant, where supposedly God dwelt between the cherubim. This indicated that God was not directly accessible to the common people. People had to go to the high priest as their mediator. Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, was the high priest allowed to go behind the veil with the blood of a bullock, as an offering for his own sins, and with the blood of a goat, as an offering for the sins of the people, and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.
When the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for our sins on the cross, God says that Christ came as our High Priest, as our Mediator, to go behind the veil.
Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The spiritual picture is that Christ, who is the Lamb of God, also functioned as the High Priest who killed the Lamb of God, and then He entered with His own blood behind the veil. Christ did not literally do that in the man made temple that was standing, but He did that spiritually in a more perfect temple not made with hands, namely His Body. Spiritually He entered behind the veil not with the blood of bulls and of goats, but with His own blood, which was shed for our eternal redemption. In the Ceremonial Law the blood of bulls and of goats was useful for sanctifying the flesh, which means that it freed the outward man from ceremonial uncleanness. Therefore, how much more shall the blood of Christ be able to purge our conscience from dead works, namely sins, and be able to make us serve the living God? Christ did that by bringing His own blood behind the veil. This curtain in the temple, separating the holy place occupies a very important place in our understanding of the Scriptures. We have already seen last week that the veil represented the body of Christ. Let us look again at:
#1. The Veil (Matt 27:50-53). Let us go back to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 27. (2X)
There were a number of things that happened the moment the Lord Jesus died. First of all, it was the moment that separated the O.T. from the N.T. time. Secondly, the Ceremonial Law also died, because all the action items in the Ceremonial Law were pictures looking forward to the coming of Christ. When Christ came and shed His blood on the cross, that fulfilled all the images of the Ceremonial Law. Thirdly, the veil in the temple was rent. Listen carefully: We read in Matt 27:50,
Matthew 27:50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Matthew 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
The veil in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom. God symbolically indicated hereby that Christ's body was torn for us, so that from this time forward we can go directly to God and come into God's holy presence through the torn body of Christ. No longer do we need a priest to intercede for us. Christ is our High Priest. No longer do we need another human being to intercede for us, like the O.T. prophets did. Christ is our Mediator. We can go directly to God and God can speak to us directly out of the Bible. When we proclaim the words of God from the Bible we are prophesying. The Bible says that we are a royal priesthood. Therefore the N.T. saints are called prophets, priests and kings.
Since the veil was rent God indicated thereby that the "holy of holies" was no longer the holy place and therefore the temple was no longer the temple of God, therefore Jerusalem was no longer the favorite city of God, and therefore the nation of Israel was no longer the people of God. From the time that Christ died on the cross all nations stand on the same level at the foot of the cross. All N.T. Scriptures written after the cross dealing with the temple, or with Jerusalem, or with Israel have to be carefully examined from the context whether the earthly temple, or city, or nation is in view, or whether the spiritual temple, or the heavenly Jerusalem, or the Israel of God is in view.
Moreover, since the veil was rent God began the unfolding of the mysteries of the O.T., which were shrouded by the veil. The mysteries of the O.T. must now be interpreted by the new information from the N.T. For example, we see that the mercy seat represented Christ who is our propitiation, our provision for pity. Now we see that within the Ark the tables of the Covenant represent Christ as the Word of God, the pot with manna represent Christ as the Bread of Life, and Aaron's rod that budded represents Christ as the Resurrection and the Life. But when Christ died we also read that:
Please turn to the prophecy of Haggai, chapter 2. You find Haggai toward the end of the O.T. just before Zechariah and Malachi. Haggai is only two chapters long and you find it about 10 pages before the end of the O.T. The nation of Israel had returned from Babylon. And now God encourages the people to rebuild the temple. But in Haggai 2:6 God speaks about a great shaking. We read in:
Haggai 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
Haggai 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
What is this shaking that was prophesied in Hag 2:6-7? These verses speak about filling this house with glory. It is speaking of the filling of the N.T. temple with all nations of the world. It is speaking about giving these people peace, which is the peace of God that passes all understanding.
God promised here that the Messiah would come shortly. "Yet once, it is a little while", and He shall come. His coming shall be introduced by a great shaking, but it is a spiritual shaking. God will do for the Church what He did when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. At that time He literally shook the heavens and the earth at Mount Sinai. He shook the sea and the dry land when God made a way through the Red Sea and God split rocks open to give them water to drink. God did that again when at the sufferings of Christ the sun was darkened and the earth shook and the rocks rent. God moved heaven and earth to deliver His people out of the slavery in Egypt. At the cross God again moved heaven and earth to deliver His people out of the slavery of Sin and Satan.
Christ was set for the fall and rising of many. When His Kingdom was set up the oracles were silenced, idols were destroyed and kings and kingdoms were moved and removed. The shaking of the nations was for the settling of the Church and for the establishing of things that cannot be shaken. Christ shall come as the desire of all nations, for in Him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
At the cross was the first Judgment Day. It was Judgment Day for Christ and for all those who are in Christ. But when Christ comes again at the second Judgment Day God will again shake the heavens and the earth. This awesome event is addressed in Haggai 2:21-22.
When Christ comes again the graves will be opened. Since God draws a close parallel between the first Judgment Day and the second Judgment Day, God also opened the graves at the first Judgment day, when Christ died. We have seen in Matt 27:52 that:
Please turn to the Gospel according to John, chapter 5, (2X) where the Lord Jesus also speaks about the dead being raised and the graves being opened. Today is Easter Sunday. We are celebrating the historic fact that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and He rose from the grave. In John ch. 5 the Lord Jesus speaks twice about raising people from the dead. We read in John 5:25,
John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
John 5:27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
Did you notice: Jesus mentioned the dead, but He did not mention the graves. These people were dead, but they were not in their graves. They are the walking dead. God says in the Bible that all mankind comes into the world spiritually dead, in total rebellion against God, and are living a life that is dead in trespasses and sins. Therefore all mankind is under the wrath of God, on the way to Hell. But the hour of salvation is now. The Lord Jesus said: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." How can a dead man hear? The Lord Jesus must first give the man spiritual ears to hear. The Lord Jesus has received authority to make spiritually alive anyone whom He will and give him ears to hear. Anyone of us, who finds in his or her life an urgent need to hear what Jesus said in the Bible, has in fact already received such spiritual ears. Those of us who have spiritual ears listen carefully to what Jesus says to us. It means that we have already been made alive. We have been resurrected from the dead.
In the following verses Jesus speaks about another time that people are resurrected. We read in:
John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Did you notice, Jesus mentioned the graves, but He did not mention the dead, because those who have received spiritual ears have everlasting life, and have passed from death unto life. Only their bodies have died, but their souls are living with Christ in heaven. Here in John 5:28-29 the Lord Jesus speaks about the Judgment of the Last Day, when the graves will be opened and all those who have not believed the Gospel will be condemned to Hell.
Since God draws a close parallel between the first Judgment Day and the second Judgment Day, God also resurrected people after Christ rose from the grave. They came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. But where is:
#2. The Holy City (Heb 12:22)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 12. (2X) At the moment that Christ died, the veil in the temple was rent. Thus the temple was no longer the temple of God, and Jerusalem was no longer the holy city. Then, where is the holy city? God reminds us in Heb 12:18 about the fearful conditions at Mount Sinai when God gave the two Tables of the Ten Comm. to Moses. Those who inhabit the "Jerusalem that now is", are still under the threat of those fearful conditions: "Obey My Commandments or you die." This is the threat of the Law to all the unsaved people of the world: "Obey My Commandments or you die." Only when we come to realize how awful sin is and how incapable we are to obey God's Commandments perfectly, only then are we open to receive the Good News of salvation through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has to open our eyes for this, that we do not want justice: We want mercy. Then we read in Heb 12:22,
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (messengers),
We have not come to Mount Sinai, but we have come to Mount Sion for mercy. What is Mount Sion, or Mount Zion? The Greek spelling is with an S; the Hebrew spelling is with a Z. What is the meaning of Zion? Historically, it was the place where David had his fortress. Spiritually, it is the place where God resides. Since the veil is rent, we can go to God directly, provided we go to Him through Christ's Atonement. In prayer we go to the place where God resides, in heaven, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. When we become saved, we become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. The holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, is not a literal city. God describes it on the Last Day as the Bride of Christ, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. When we have become born again, we have become a part of the Bride of Christ. Throughout eternity future we will be the Bride of Christ, and the wedding feast is probably lasting an eternity. This is the holy city.
We do not know who the saints were that were resurrected when Christ rose from the grave. It was only a foretaste of the resurrection of the Last Day. But the saints who have been resurrected did not show themselves to people in the earthly Jerusalem. They appeared unto many in the heavenly Jerusalem. That is where they went. Who would want to stay on this earth? God promised that the saints would be resurrected in a glorified body. Therefore they could not stay on this earth, but went into heaven, where they appeared unto many. The next verse in Heb 12 speaks about:
Hebrews 12:23 To the (general) assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Christ is called the Firstborn, because He rose from the dead. Christ was not the first one to rise from the dead. Both Elijah and Elisha have raised a child from the dead hundreds of years earlier. And subsequently other people have been raised from the dead. But Christ was the first one to rise from the second death. That is why, in Col 1:18, Christ is called the Firstborn from the dead. This church of the firstborn is the church of which Christ said: "I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it". (Matt 16:18) Since Christ is called the Firstborn, we are also called firstborn, because we were in Christ when He died. When Christ was crucified, we were crucified with Him; when Christ died, we died with Him; when Christ was buried, we were buried with Him; and when Christ arose, we rose with Him. Therefore anyone who has been born again is also called firstborn, because we were in Christ when He experienced the second death.
Heb 12:23 speaks of our glorious future, but it also speaks about our glorious present condition: We belong to the church "which are written in heaven", or literally: "having been enrolled in heaven". God registered the names of those He planned to save in "the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world" (Rev 17:8). God teaches us in the Bible that He has chosen us, or elected us, from before the foundation of the world. This is the comfort of the saints: If our name is written in heaven our salvation is guaranteed.
Then we read in verse 23 that we are coming "to God, the Judge of all". The moment we have to stand before a judge, there is fear involved. God the Judge knows everything about us, and all sins must be accounted for. But the Bible says that the same Judge who will cast people into Hell, is also the Mediator who will have mercy on all those who believe the Gospel of the Bible. The Gospel is the Good News that Christ, the Judge, has come to take the penalty in our place. Our sins have been cast away from Him "as far as the East is from the West", because Christ, the Mediator, has already paid for those sins. We have already stood before the Judgment throne of God, and we do not have to stand there again, because "there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Are you still fearful of physical death? Or are you ready to meet Christ?
"The spirits of just men made perfect". The only way we can be just is when Christ has removed all the guilt of our sins on the cross. There is no other way sins can be forgiven. We are not made perfect in our bodies, but if we are saved we are made perfect in our souls.
The next verse in Heb 12 speaks about:
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Where would we be if we had no mediator before God? We would have to plead our own case. But even our best works are as filthy rags in God's sight. Even our best works are full of sin. God's judgment will be: To Hell you go. This is how the majority of mankind will stand before God. Presently they do not care if there is a God, and they believe that it will not be so bad after all. Since everyone is doing the same thing, and since God is good, WE (the Bible thumpers) are just pessimists and killjoys trying to make other people's lives here on earth miserable. But have they read the Bible? No! They have no interest in reading the Bible, much less in studying the Bible. Such interest will only come if Jesus is our Mediator. He is the One who gives us the interest to study the Bible.
The name Jesus is a synonym for Savior. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins". (Matt 1:21) Jesus the Savior is also our Mediator. A Mediator is mediating between two parties. The two parties are God and man. The Lord Jesus Christ reconciles us to God. Why do we need to be reconciled to God? We came into the world as sinners and enemies of God. Therefore, we need to have peace with God. But to have peace with God requires that God's Justice be satisfied. The perfect Justice of God demands that a full payment for sin be made. Mankind cannot meet that demand, because we cannot be good enough. And yet, God requires it from us, because His Justice, or His Righteousness requires full payment for sins. It is an impossible situation. But God, in His mercy, has allowed someone else to substitute for the payment of our sins. God also provided the Substitute: The Lord Jesus Christ, who is also the Judge of all the earth, was willing to step down from His throne and become our substitute, and to take the penalty in our place. That is how the Righteousness of God was satisfied, and that is how the Lord Jesus functioned as our Mediator.
Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. What does that mean? Were people in the O.T. time saved through an Old Covenant, the Covenant of the Law, and are people in the N.T. time saved through a New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace? That is what many theologians would like us to believe, but these ideas will not harmonize with the Bible. Firstly, Jesus said: "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me". Therefore there is only one way to salvation. Secondly, there is only one Covenant that saves. God says in Gal 4:24 that Hagar and Sarah, the wives of Abraham, were types of the two covenants. Hagar typified the covenant of Mount Sinai, where the Law was given, which covenant the nation of Israel had adulterated into a works gospel, and which leads to bondage. No one can become saved under such a covenant of works. On the other hand, Sarah typified the Covenant of Mount Zion, the Jerusalem that is above, where grace is given leading unto salvation. This Covenant of grace is the only Covenant for which we have a Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just remember that Hagar and Sarah were contemporaries, and that we have to start with Gal 4:24. This will begin to straighten out our concepts of the two covenants.
Let us turn back now to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 27. (2X) There we read:
#3. This Was the Son of God (Matt 27:54, II Cor 4:3-4)
In verse 51 the Lord Jesus had died, the veil in the temple was rent in twain, the earth did quake and the rocks were rent. Then the next two verses, concerning those who were resurrected, did not occur until the Lord Jesus rose from the grave. Then we read in verse 54,
Mt 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
The Roman soldiers, Gentiles in the flesh, saw the great darkness for three hours, they heard the gracious words of Jesus from the cross, they read the accusation above His head, they heard the mocking of the priests and the Scribes and the Pharisees for whom they had no great respect to begin with, they saw how Jesus died, they experienced the earthquake and that even the rocks were rent, and they saw that the darkness was giving way to light, these Gentiles in the flesh whose hearts were not clouded by envy, they recognized from all these signs that "This was the Son of God".
For an unbiased observer, they had seen enough evidence to convince them of who Jesus was. But the priests and the Scribes and the Pharisees, whose hearts were clouded by envy, no miracle whatsoever could convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. The Roman soldiers had not heard of the Messiah. That is why they said: "This was the Son of God". But the Jews had heard of the Messiah, and they had the Scriptures teaching them what to expect. But their eyes were blinded. What does that tell us about other people in the world whose eyes are blinded? God says in II Cor 4:3
2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Satan has blinded the minds of them which believe not. It means that Satan has blinded the minds of almost all people in the world, because only a remnant chosen by grace will be saved. That is a sad situation, but this is what God teaches us in the Bible. It is sad, but it also brings great joy to those who do believe the Gospel. It brings us great joy to know that God chose us from before the foundation of the world, and that the Lord Jesus Christ almost 2000 years ago paid particularly for all our sins. We are secure of our salvation unto the end.
Then we read in Matt 27:55-56 about "three women".
Matthew 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
Matthew 27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
There were many women who followed Jesus during His 3½ year's ministry, "who ministered unto Him of their substance". We can also ask ourselves: "Do we minister to the Body of Christ from our substance"? Do we appreciate Christ as much as these women did before His crucifixion, which had not even seen how much Christ was willing to suffer for them? We have the whole Bible, and we know a whole lot more than these women did. Does not our knowledge demand a greater response?
Please turn to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8. (2X) Many of these women stood afar off, but only three of those were named. God has His reasons why only these three were named. The first one named is Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had cast out seven evil spirits. We read in Luke 8:
Luke 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
Luke 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Nowhere do we read in the narrative Gospels about the particular event where Jesus cast out seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. But her gratitude was very great, and she followed the Lord Jesus wherever He went. Can we say that also of ourselves? How great is our gratitude? Are we willing and available to follow Jesus wherever He sends us? Are we willing to listen to what He said?
Please turn with me to the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 6. (2X) The next person we read about in Matt 27 after Mary Magdalene is "Mary the mother of James and Joses". There were many Mary's in the time that Jesus walked on this earth. Mary is the Greek name for the Hebrew name Mara, which means "Bitter". The nation of Israel had not heard a direct revelation from God for over 300 years. Many people were embittered that they were ruled over by the Romans. Therefore many named their daughters Mary, or "Bitter". We read in Mark 6:3,
Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
At the cross the mother of Jesus is named as "Mary the mother of James and Joses". We read here without any question that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had more children. Four brothers and at least two sisters are named here. Two of Jesus' half brothers, James and Jude wrote Epistles, which are included in the Bible. Many people, who call themselves Christians, claim that Jesus was the only child of Mary and that she remained perpetually a virgin. But have they read the Bible? No! By their actions they show that they do not delight in hearing the voice of the Bridegroom. We can ask ourselves: Do we delight to listen to the voice of our Bridegroom? Do we delight to read the Bible?
The third woman mentioned in Matt 27 is the mother of Zebedee's children. She is the mother of the apostles James and John, the sons of Zebedee. She is the one who approached Jesus privately and asked: "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom". (Matt 20:21) She was very zealous for her children. But she was also very zealous for the Lord Jesus, and she stayed with Him until the very end.
What we see here are three women that were handpicked by God. God infused into them a desire to see Jesus and to minister to Him. Their ministry did not end when He died on the cross. They intended to continue to minister unto Him after His death, by bringing more spices for His body on the first day of the week. They knew that they would be ceremonially defiled when they touched a dead body. But their love for Jesus was greater than their fear to be ceremonially defiled. Their love for Jesus was greater than being placated by their fellow Jews as "Unclean", "Unclean".
The question I have for all of us is this: Do we love Jesus like these women did? Has God infused into our hearts such a love for Jesus that we are willing to be gossiped and maligned and ridiculed by our friends and by our own family? How great really is our love for Jesus?
Let me summarize what we have learned so far in this sermon: We remember on Easter Sunday that when Jesus died on the cross, God rent the veil in the temple, and by this action God indicated that the O.T. Ceremonial Law was done away and the N.T. era had started. The first Judgment Day had passed. But Christ did not stay in the grave. Two days later Christ rose from the grave, and after He rose from the grave the bodies of many saints also rose from the grave and went into the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, and their bodies were united with their souls, which were already in heaven. The heavenly Jerusalem is also called the city of the living God, Mount Zion, the place where God resides. Since Christ is our living Mediator before God, we can go directly to God in prayer, without an earthly priest, and we stand safe and secure under Christ's protection. Amen
Let us go to the Lord in prayer.