Yesterday, I preached from Matthew 27:45-56 on the cross of Christ. In 2004, a church decided that it would become ultra relevant. So, at Easter, the church got a large bunny suit and placed a man inside and performed a drama before the audience. Some of the actors broke eggs and talked ugly to the bunny. Many of the children ended up crying and asking why the Easter bunny was being whipped. Many of the parents were outraged by the drama presentation.
Not only do I find the church drama concerning, but the fact that parents would be concerned enough to leave the sanctuary with their children because the bunny was being whipped on stage says much about what children know about Jesus’ death and resurrection. The bloody cross of Jesus Christ was painful, ignominious, and it ended in death. In Matthew 27:45-56, we see two main points regarding the death of Jesus.
The Divine Hour of Redemption (Vs. 45-50)
As Jesus was hanging on the cross, He was suspended between heaven and earth. Jesus was bearing the wrath of God for sinners. As the Son was being judged for guilty sinners, darkness overshadowed the entire area. Charles Spurgeon said, “It was midnight at midday!” In fulfillment of the historic Passover event (Ex. 12), the nation of Israel continued to celebrate this holiday each year as commanded by the LORD in order to remember their salvation.
Each year, the city of Jerusalem would fill up with people and animals for sacrifice. Jews who lived outside of Jerusalem would travel home for Passover. According to 2 Chronicles 35, when King Josiah celebrated Passover, he slaughtered more than 37,000 sheep. Josephus, the ancient historian, claims that several hundred thousand lambs were herded through the streets of Jerusalem every Passover.
At the very moment that the heads of each home and the high priest were all cutting the throats of their lambs for the Passover sacrifice, on a hill called Golgotha (the place of a skull), Jesus was suffering on a cross. As the little lambs all across Jerusalem cried out in pain as they were dying, Jesus was crying out, “‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Jesus had become the “Lamb of God” as John the Baptist had prophesied.(John 1:29).
The Divine Hour of Reconciliation (Vs. 51-56)
As Jesus died, the ground shook, the rocks split, the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom, and graves opened and people were resurrected. These proofs served as a means of validating that Jesus is the Son of God. When a person is presented with the death of Jesus for guilty sinners, it demands a response. Either you will call the message of the cross foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18), or you will cry out to God for salvation.
The soldiers had been mocking Jesus (Luke 23:36-38). However, the centurion turned to Jesus and said, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54). The crowds, according to Luke, walked away beating their breasts (Luke 23:48). The women, who had come to minister to Jesus, stood at a distance and watched as this entire scene unfolded.
As we consider the truth of Jesus’ sacrificial death, what response do you have? The message of the cross may seem like folly to the world, but it’s truth and it demands a response. Will you call out to Christ for salvation? Will you trust in His substitutionary death and receive the mercy of God? Charles Spurgeon said, “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.”
Luke 9:23 – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
If you have time, I would encourage you to watch this sermon that I preached from Matthew 27:45-56 and share it with your friends.