Friday, April 3. Matthew 27:27-61.
When you look back, can you point to certain events that changed the course of your life? Often times those events don’t seem like much when they are happening, but, in retrospect, you realize that they were earth-shaking for you.
The story of Jesus’ death is kind of like that. For many “passers by” this event was just another crucifixion; another grim reminder that Rome held the ultimate power in Israel. Sad, but true. For Matthew, however, the author of this Gospel, this event was earth-shaking. Matthew’s version of this story is unique because it includes certain details that the other Gospel writers do not. There are three details that demonstrate how Jesus’ death shook the foundation of the earth.
- The Temple curtain was torn. There was a curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple. The curtain was six inches thick, and was not easily torn. Only one man was allowed to go behind this temple, and that only happened once per year. The fact that the temple curtain was torn shows us that Jesus’ death made it possible for everyone to enter into God’s presence. We no longer needed a high priest to go before us. This shook the foundation of the religious system.
- The tombs opened up. We don’t often talk about the fact that many people came back to life on Good Friday. It may sound like a scene from the Walking Dead, but these people weren’t Zombies. Jesus’ death brought them back to real life. They were full and whole. This is a glimpse of what will happen in the final day, when we are all resurrected. Jesus’ death shook the foundation of life and death.
- The women were mentioned. This may seem strange to add to this list, but we have to remember the context in which this was written. In those days, women had no rights and were considered insignificant in God’s plan for the world. Women were merely baby-makers. The fact that Matthew mentions the women twice in this passage is a foreshadowing of the liberation that will come for women–and slaves, and gentiles–in the church. We are still working on equality issues today, but it all began with this event. Jesus shook the foundation of gender roles and equality.
Jesus died for us, for the world. Spend time today meditating on that earth-shaking reality.