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THE DAY CHRIST DIED
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
"And they crucified him" (Matthew 27:35).
Actor Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic. Although I disagree with him, at least he is a conservative who scorns the Second Vatican Council. Now Gibson is directing and producing a major motion picture about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is titled "The Passion." It will be released at Easter time next year [in 2004].
Gibson said his film will be violent:
"It's gonna be hard to take," he says. "When the Romans scourged you, it wasn't a nice thing. Think about the crucifixion - there's no way to sugarcoat that. Not if you're playing Jesus. [James] Caviezel…logged 15 shooting days on the Calvary cross - which may have been easier than wearing the shackles and getting beaten and whipped. During one trouncing, he separated his left shoulder. "There's an immense amount of suffering on this," the actor says. "Fortunately, God is helping me" (Time, January 27, 2003, p. 55).
Gibson says that his family has been pestered by "a media attack on a Christian testament" (ibid., p. 55). He says,
When you touch this subject, it does have a lot of enemies…Asked whether The Passion will upset Jews, Gibson replied, "It may. It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth" (ibid.).
The Time magazine reporters treated the Crucifixion with typical flip humor. "Cut. Print. Amen." "Lights! Camera! Agony!" "Got a problem with that? Take it up with your new spiritual counsellor: Mad Max." That's to be expected from a generation of newsmen who know nothing about Christianity from personal experience. We can't expect them to treat Christ with the dignity that they would give to, say, a film on the life of Mohammed. The tone of the article shows that they have no respect for Jesus Christ. He is "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3).
The day that Christ died on the Cross the whole course of human history was changed - forever! Human lives were changed by the thousands. Souls were converted, and the world was never to be the same. Let us look back at the day Christ died and notice four great events that happened.
I. First, think of the darkness that fell.
The Bible says:
"Now from the sixth hour [noon] there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour [three in the afternoon]" (Matthew 27:45).
Dr. J. Vernon McGee says:
Our Lord was put on the Cross at the third hour, which would be nine o'clock in the morning. By twelve noon, man had done all he could to the Son of God. Then at the noon hour, darkness settled down, and that Cross became an altar on which the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world was offered (Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 148).
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that darkness fell "over all the land" from noon until three o'clock, when Jesus died. Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, was right when he spoke of this darkness:
This could not have been caused by an eclipse, because the Jews used a lunar calendar, and Passover always fell on the full moon, making an eclipse out of the question. This was a supernatural darkness ( MacArthur Study Bible, note on Luke 23:44).
The supernatural darkness, that came across the land when Christ died, reminds us of the twelfth miracle that occurred under Moses before the children of Israel left Egypt:
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt…" (Exodus 10:21-22).
God sent that darkness in the time of Moses. And God sent the same darkness over all the land as Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sins. As Dr. Isaac Watts put it in his hymn:
Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the Mighty Maker, died For man, the creature's sin.
("Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?" by Isaac Watts, D.D.,
II. Second, think of the rent veil in the Temple.
Please turn to Matthew 27:51,
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51).
Inside the Temple there was a great, thick curtain. Dr. John R. Rice tells us about the Temple:
We are told that the sanctuary, or temple proper, was about ninety feet long, thirty feet wide and ninety feet high…The sanctuary was divided into two parts. The first sixty feet was the Holy Place…A great veil separated the Holy Place from the other one-third of the building, the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place (Dr. John R. Rice, The King of the Jews: A Commentary on Matthew, Sword of the Lord, 1955, p. 479).
Dr. Rice went on to point out that no one could go into the Holy of Holies except the high priest. And the high priest could only go in there once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Then Dr. Rice said:
When Christ died on the Cross, therefore, "the veil of the temple was rent in twain [two] from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51). Being torn, beginning at the top, was an indication that God Himself [tore] the veil…When the veil was torn down, then every barrier between God and man was removed for those willing to come through [Christ] (ibid. p. 480).
III. Third, think of the earthquake.
Notice the second half of Matthew 27:51,
"And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent [were split]" (Matthew 27:51).
This earthquake may have been involved in the tearing of the veil. I think it was. But as Edersheim points out, "Although the earthquake might furnish the physical basis, the rent of the Temple veil was…really made by the hand of God" (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Eerdmans, 1945, volume II, p. 611). Edersheim points out that the veil was the thickness of the palm of a man's hand (about 2½ inches thick). "If the veil was at all such as is described in the Talmud, it could not have been rent in twain by a mere earthquake" (ibid.).
The tearing of the veil came just at the time "when, at the evening sacrifice, the officiating priesthood entered into the Holy Place, either to burn incense or to do other service there" (ibid.). The tearing of the veil made a terrific impression on these Jewish priests. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie says that one "result of this supernatural tearing of the veil is recorded in Acts 6:7, where we are told, 'A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith'" (cf. Ryrie Study Bible, note on Matthew 27:51).
When Christ died, the veil was torn in two. You can now come to God, because Christ is the mediator. No veil stands between you and God now. Jesus is between you and God. Come to Jesus and He will take you directly into God's presence.
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).
IV. Fourth, think of the resurrections.
Look at verse 52,
"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matthew 27:52-53).
Dr. John R. Rice points out that no one received resurrection bodies before Christ was resurrected. Old Testament resurrections, the resurrection of Lazarus, the widow of Nain's son "were brought back to life, but did not receive resurrection bodies or immortality but had the same kind of bodies they had had before death, and later died again" (ibid., p. 482).
In verse fifty-three we are told that these bodies "came out of the graves after his resurrection." I think this made a terrific impression on the people of Jerusalem. Dead relatives came up from the grave and testified of Jesus, and preached about Him. Their testimonies undoubtedly prepared the hearts of many for the great ingatherings of three thousand souls on the day of Pentecost (ref. Acts 2:41), and the five thousand men who were converted a few days after that. Eight thousand converts in a few days is a mighty revival indeed. And the testimony of these resurrected saints seems to have had a great deal to do with it.
If your dead relatives could come back and speak to you they would tell you to get saved! They would tell you to come back to this church every Sunday. They would tell you to get converted. You have dead relatives in Hell who are praying for you to come back to this church next Sunday and every Sunday. You have dead relatives in Hell praying for you to get converted.
A rich man in Hell prayed, we are told in Luke chapter sixteen:
"Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment" (Luke 16:27-28).
Every one of you young people have dead relatives in Hell praying like that for the salvation of your soul. They don't want you to go to Hell! They don't want you to be tormented with them in the Lake of Fire. They want you to come back to this church. They want you to come to Christ and have your sins washed away by His Blood.
With your dead relatives, we also say to you, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" Come and have fun and fellowship with us! Come home to church! And come home to Christ! He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood so your sins could be washed away. Christ is not dead. He has risen from the dead. He is now seated at the right hand of God in the Third Heaven. Come home to church! Come home to Christ! He has risen from the dead!
Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 27:45-54.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Blessed Redeemer" (by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, born 1895).
THE OUTLINE OF
THE DAY CHRIST DIED
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"And they crucified him" (Matthew 27:35).
I. Think of the darkness that fell, Matthew 27:45;
II. Think of the rent veil in the Temple, Matthew 27:51a.
III. Think of the earthquake, Matthew 27:51b;
IV. Think of the resurrections, Matthew 27:52-53;
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