Matthew 27:39-66 (NKJV)
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
45 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?” 47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. 49 The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Jesus’ death was accompanied by many signs, all of which teach us about the benefits of His death. The temple veil—which served as a divider between the holy place and the most holy place in the temple—is torn from top to bottom. This sign teaches us that the Levitical priesthood with its sacrifices and washings have ended because “with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12).
Then the earth quaked as a sign of God’s judgment against sin in the person of His Son Jesus. Jesus endures the wrath of God against sin because God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). By enduring God’s wrath for sin, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus by faith. Jesus opens the kingdom of heaven—a kingdom that cannot be shaken—to all who repent and trust in His atoning sacrifice for their sins. St. Paul encourages us, “Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb 12:28).
Finally, “the the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” This resurrection of saints and their appearance to many testifies to the fact that not only will Christ rise from the dead, but on the Last Day He will call all people from their graves. Those who who have not believed in Him will rise to everlasting punishment, while the saints—all who persevere in true faith unto death—will be raised to everlasting blessedness, righteousness, radiance, and glory.
Christ Jesus has obtained eternal redemption for all mankind. He forgives the sins of all who believe in Him and counts them righteous with His righteousness. There is, therefore, no condemnation for believers. He promises to raise them upon the Last Day even as He is risen from the dead.
Let us pray: We give You thanks, O Christ, for dying for our sins, enduring our deserved wrath, and for rising to life, to give us these benefits each day through faith. Amen.