Introduction: Continuing our Easter series, Questions from Calvary.
The title to our Palm Sunday message is, An Anguished Question (asked by Jesus).
- Anguish is excruciating or acute distress, suffering, or pain. (excruciate = out of cross)
- I am examining questions because, when asked honestly, questions reveal what is on the mind and in the heart of the asker.
- Inquiries reflect what we are thinking or feeling—and this includes all of us, but also Jesus, who was fully human, possessing same the mind and emotions as each of us.
- Matthew 27:46 (NLT)—…“My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” [Also forsaken or deserted in other translations.]
- This was not a calm, reasonable, question; it was an agonized inquiry, a pained cry!
The cries of Jesus on Calvary’s cross reveal… (Matthew 27:45-54; C/R: Isaiah 53:11)
#1 - The agony of abandonment. (Matthew 27:45-46; C/R: Psalm 22:1; Isaiah 53:6,10; Habakkuk 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24)
- Matthew 27:45 (NLT)—At noon [6th hour], darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock [9th hour].
- This was not a solar eclipse since Passover occurred during a full, not a new, moon.
- This darkness was a supernatural act of God displaying His judgment against the sins of the world poured out on His sinless Son. (Isaiah 53:6,10; Matthew 25:30; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6)
- Matthew 27:45 (NLT)—At about three o’clock [time of daily evening sacrifice], Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli [Hebrew], lema sabachthani?” [Aramaic, Hebrew dialect] which means “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” [Psalm 22:1.]
- This is the only place in the Bible where Jesus did not refer to God as “Father.”
- Jesus had become sin (1 Corinthians 5:21), not merely represented sinners symbolically.
- God separated Himself from His Son, because He would not allow sin in His Presence, even in the person of His Son! (Habakkuk 1:13).
- 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)—He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.
- Jesus, who did not rely on this world’s resources for support, lost the intimate relation- ship He had with His Father; He was cut off from the Father’s favor and fellowship.
- Instead, Jesus suffered God’s full wrath, His just anger, at the sin of mankind.
- Separation from God, divine abandonment, with resulting feelings of hopeless and despair, is the essence of hell.
- Through incarnation, Jesus had experienced a partial separation by giving up His divine privileges, leaving heaven, and becoming fully human (Philippians 2:6-8).
- As a human, Jesus spoke and listened to His Father continually (as we can), but now His communication was interrupted, His connection broken.
- To a lesser degree, we sometimes experience the silence of God—to teach us to reflect on our lives and faith, to practice trusting what we already know, to persevere in pursuing God—but we never experience His abandonment.
- Didn’t Jesus understand that He would become sin, suffer and die to redeem mankind? Yes, He did, but He had never experience isolation from His Father.
- : In quarantine, we are without many of the resources we rely on to deal with our anxiety: shopping, socializing, sports, entertainment (How much Hulu can you watch?), alcohol (running out?); God has not abandoned us, but are we familiar enough with Him to find comfort in speaking and listening to Him?
The cry of Jesus aroused…
The contempt of the crowd. (Matthew 27:47-49; C/R: Psalm 69:21; Isaiah 53:3; Malachi 4:5-6; John 19:28)
- Matthew 27:47 (NLT)—Some of the bystanders misunderstood [poor translation, Gk., heard] and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah. [Malachi 4:5–6]
- I think these people, who had been taunting Jesus for claiming to be God’s Son, were mocking Him by saying He was calling on Elijah, the Messiah’s forerunner, for help.
- John 19:28 (NLT) tells us that, at this time, Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.”
- Matthew 27:48 (NLT)—One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine [diluted wine, drink of common people and soldiers, effectively quenched thirst], holding it up to Him on a reed stick so He could drink. [fulfilled Psalm 69:21]
- Perhaps this was an act of compassion which lessened Jesus’ dehydration.
- Matthew 27:49 (NLT)—But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save Him.” [“Don’t help Him, keep Him calling for help.” More mockery. Isaiah 53:3]
- Remember that all of this is happening in darkness, but rather than causing alarm or intimidation, the feeling of anonymity seemed to fuel their anger. [Like social media?]
- It seems that the Jews gathered at Calvary should have associated the unnatural darkness with God’s judgment, as several Old Testament prophets had declared (Isaiah 5:30;13:10-11; Joel 2:2; Amos 5:20; Zephaniah 1:14-15), but they were focused on expressing their angry ridicule.
- : When someone is hurting, do you become compassionate or grow more irritated?
Another cry of Jesus revealed…
#3 - The significance of sacrifice. (Matthew 27:50-53; C/R: Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46; John 10:17-18; 19:30; Hebrews 10:4-10,19-22)
- Matthew 27:50 (NLT)—Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit.
- John 19:30 (NLT) adds, When Jesus had tasted it, He said, “It is finished!” [Death is defeated!] Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. [fulfilling Psalm 31:5]
- Jesus controlled His death; He released His human spirit by a conscious act of His own will into the Presence of His Father. (John 10:17-18)
- Matthew 27:51a (NLT)—51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
- The curtain between Holy Place and Most Holy Place, a woven fabric of 72 twisted braids of 24 threads each, was 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick.
- Only the high priest was allowed to enter Most Holy Place once per year on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of sacrificial animals on the altar as atonement for sins, but the sacrifice was only symbolic; it had to be repeated every year, anticipating the one, true sacrifice for sins that the Son of God would offer at Calvary. (Hebrews 9:2-7)
- The supernatural tear from the top symbolized the removal of the separation between God and man. (Hebrews 9:11-10:22)
- The barrier of sin was forever removed for those who put their trust in Jesus, so through His death, we have access into God’s Presence.
- The veil was ripped while the Temple was filled with worshipers, which included priests and pilgrims who were, at that moment, celebrating the Passover sacrifice.
- The ceremonies and priestly functions continued until the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, 40 years later, but their divine significance ended when Christ died, as the New Covenant replaced the Old. (Hebrews 10:4-10,19-22)
- Matthew 27:51b-52a (NLT)— 51b The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52a and tombs opened.
- This was not a natural earthquake; it was God expressing His agony at the need to punish His Son, displaying His fury against a fallen world.
- Matthew 27:52b-53 (NLT)— 52b The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection [Easter morning], went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
- The death of Jesus defeated death, which is caused by sin, and this victory was demonstrated by the resurrection of selected godly men and women who were dead, but they would not enter Jerusalem until Jesus was first resurrected.
- : How does the death of Jesus for your sins, the depth of the Gospel, affect you?
The cries of Jesus enabled…
#4 - The experience of execution. (Matthew 27:54; C/R: Luke 23:47; Matthew 10:32; John 8:32; 1 John 4:15)
- Matthew 27:54a (NLT)—The Roman officer [Gk. centurion, Latin for 100, in charge of 100 soldiers] and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. [Darkness, splitting rocks, not likely aware of the tearing of the Temple curtain, uncertain whether they had seen people raised from the dead.]
- These were hardened soldiers who were accustomed to crucifying people.
- They participated whipping Jesus, mocking Him by dressing Him in a scarlet robe, placing a crown of thorns on His head, putting a stick in His right hand as a scepter, then kneeling before Him and taunting, “Hail! King of the Jews!” (They would!)
- They spit on Him, struck Him with the stick, replaced the robe with His clothes, led Him to Calvary, nailed Him to the cross and gambled for His clothing. (Matthew 27:26-31,35)
- If religious at all, these men were idolaters with little knowledge about Judaism, and were therefore, uninformed about the Jewish Messiah or Jesus’ identity or ministry.
- They just knew He was convicted of claiming to be the King of the Jews.
- They sensed however, that the awesome natural phenomena had a supernatural origin.
- Their fear was not caused by the strange events, but by the divine power behind them.
- Matthew 27:54b (NLT)—They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
- Mark 15:39 (NLT) tells us that the centurion spoke this after seeing how Jesus died.
- Luke 23:47 asserts that this centurion worshiped God.
- They could only know this by revelation from the Holy Spirit—only supernaturally could they see that this dying man was the divine Son of God. (John 8:32; 1 John 4:15)
- : Has the Holy Spirit confirmed for you that the man Jesus was God’s own Son?
Jesus shared in the Passover meal with His disciples in an upper room.
- During the meal, Jesus said that He would be betrayed by one of them and would die.
- Matthew 26:26 (NLT)—26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. [Take your bread. Pray] Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is My body.” [You eat also.]
- [Take your cup.] Matthew 26:27–30 (NLT)—27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. [Give thanks.] He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is My blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark My words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom.” [We are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb; Revelation 19:9-10]30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. [Where Jesus would encounter a night of torment and torture, resulting in triumph over sin and death.]
- Discuss with your family the meaning of the Lord’s Supper; let each person speak.
- If you’re feeling isolated, anxious, or flustered from too much family togetherness, our Care Ministry provides Counseling, Crisis and Financial Care, and of course Prayer.
- Look at all of the Care Resources at brookwoodchurch.org/help.
- If we can help you or someone you know, call688.8355 or visit brookwoodchurch.org/ prayer.