Monday, July 03, 2017

Matthew 27:32-66 Sermon

Matthew 27:32-66
Sermon Notes
Quaking Mockers
July 2, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We now arrive at the crucifixion. But before we get there the enemies of Jesus take one last victory lap. Well, it is not even a victory lap. Before they make their way around the first corner, the ground is shaking, the sun goes dark and the Roman world begins to repent.
         Some of the enemies of Christ are quickly conquered. As Spurgeon mentions in his commentary on this passage, the worst type of fellows often respond more readily than the religious or academic men of the day.
The cruel and vile soldiers acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. The Pharisees prepare to kill Him again if He has the audacity to rise from the dead.

Matthew 27:32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
Let us all be like Simon of Cyrene, who must take up our cross and follow Jesus.
To follow Jesus was not a victory lap or the place of ease and adulation as the disciples had imagined. Rather, it was this place taken by Simon. To follow Jesus is to follow a trail of blood to the place where sins are crucified among a mocking crowd. This place, seemingly the place of shame, is rather a place of honor. To suffer persecution for Christ’s sake, is to be seated with Him in high esteem.

33   And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
There is a great deal of speculation about the wine mixed with gall and/or myrrh. It was some sort of drug, probably administered prior to nailing the victim to the cross. It would put him in a state of stupor so that they could get their job done more easily. Jesus would have none of it. He would take the full suffering of the cross.

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there;
They were unbelieving but curious. At least one centurion’s watching was rewarded.
Even these men, who gambled for the robe of Jesus, got more than they bargained for. They are here covered in sins but at least one of them was later clothed in Christ.

37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
In Latin- King of the Romans, and in Greek- King of the Gentiles and in Hebrew-King of the Jews.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be 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 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
Jesus was crucified with thieves but even here He extends grace.
Unbelief must have its vent. See, I told you He was a liar and a fake. He has not delivered us. The Romans mock, He cannot deliver these wretched Jews. One of the thieves mock, He is just like us. The chief priests, scribes and elders mock. A miracle worker? Get off the cross then! Do that and we will believe. No you won’t! Not even if One were to rise from the dead!

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
It is darkness as Jesus becomes sin on our behalf. Jesus laments the rift in the Godhead. Not in the essence of the Godhead. Father, Son and Spirit are essentially One, immutable and unchangeable. However, Jesus, the man was a perfect Son and had no occasion to suffer the wrath of His Father. But now, the perfect Adam has willingly taken the punishment of all the disobedient sons, so darkness must ensue.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Jesus quotes Psalm 22, an ejaculation of fear and dismay as God’s immediate presence has left Him. David must have felt this sort of dismay as well. Sometimes we feel as if God has abandoned us. Never was that feeling so keen as in the person of the sinless Jesus. But God did not leave Jesus alone. As we read down the Psalm, God, the Father heard His cry and delivered His soul from Sheol. Furthermore, the Spirit brought the body of Jesus back to life on the third day.

47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
There was a report that Elijah was to come before the Messiah. Here, some watching mistake Jesus’s words as a call for Elijah. They try to revive Him so that they can see if Elijah will show up to rescue Him. To some extent this was another fleeting hope for some who watched.
But Jesus was not calling for Elijah. In fact, the promised Elijah had already come in the person of John the Baptist. He came in the power and spirit of Elijah and he, too, was martyred for speaking the truth.

50   Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Jesus gave Himself up. He yielded up the ghost. He did not simply die of His wounds. He gave Himself up to death. He was delivered by the hands of wicked men but according to the will of the Father. Even now, He must willingly die and He does so.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
The enemies of Christ kept the veil in the temple, perpetuating their greedy and self-conceited ways. Jesus now exposes them, revealing the holy places where all men might now dwell.
The world was in a tumult. This perfect Son, this perfect human, could not die without the Earth rebelling. The ground quakes, the rocks break, the curtain tears, the graves break open, and the dead are brought to life.

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
This is the good confession, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The events of the death of Christ made at least one man a believer. This man had tremendous influence. Centurions oversaw a group of about 80 men. Some Centurions commanded a cohort, consisting of 480 men. This man is at least convinced enough to make a profession about who Jesus really was.

55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
The women were watching these events, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and James and John’s mother.

Matt. 27:57   When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
Pilate is surprised that Jesus is so soon dead. Crucifixion often made men linger to death. This is also an indication that Jesus died willingly before the natural process took its course.
Joseph is connected to Nicodemus. These two were secret believers. They had come to Jesus by night. Jesus told them that He would be lifted up, like Moses’s brazen serpent (John 3:14-15).
They, too, were told that passage we all know, John 3:16.
These two men now come and seek the body of Jesus. They believe. They have looked upon Him who was lifted up, that whosoever looks upon the Son of God by faith shall be saved.
Jesus even told Nicodemus and Joseph that men loved the darkness rather than the light. And these two men had come to see Jesus in the darkness. Why? Because they were afraid of the Jews. But now they are emboldened to belief come whatsoever may.

59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Jesus lay in the tomb of Joseph. Joseph was rich but he was a man of fear and of darkness. Jesus may lay in Joseph’s tomb for him. Not even the rich and mighty can escape death. How much more the poor and powerless?

61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
Why were they sitting and waiting? Hoping? Despairing? They later come to the tomb with burial spices so at least by then they had given up hope of Resurrection.

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
The Pharisees have their story and they are sticking to it. The Pharisees did hear Jesus say that He would rise from the dead. They prove here that they are fighting against God. They fear that Jesus will indeed rise and need the help of Roman soldiers to keep Him dead.
Spurgeon points out the just a short time before the leaders had used Jesus’s words about Resurrection to try to prove that Jesus was a malefactor who wanted to physically destroy the Temple. They show here that there accusations were trumped up. They knew that He was speaking about the Resurrection of His body.
Again, divine irony sets in. Because they have rejected Him and destroyed His body, the true Temple of God, their earthly temple was also destroyed, not one stone left upon another.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
Ironically, the Pharisees’ action here is a strong proof of the Resurrection. They did not believe Jesus would rise from the dead. Or, if He did, they wanted soldiers there to take Him prisoner again. But the fact of a Roman watch on the tomb guarantees that none of Jesus’s peevish disciples could have come and stolen the body. This makes their after-story quite pitiful. The soldiers themselves would have nothing to do with such a dangerous story, had the Pharisees not given them large money to tell the lie that they had fallen asleep on the watch.

         The great message here is in the victory of Jesus. It looks like death. It looks like the enemies win the day. It looks like though the ground shakes and though the sun hides his face, that the enemies of Christ have finally won.
         But, like Paul Harvey, we have to tell the rest of the story. The Resurrection is coming. The enemies of Christ are thwarted. The enemies of Christ even unwittingly advance the cause of Christ.
         Whether submitting to Christ or resisting Christ, the will of the Lord will be done. The enemies receive their just due, Judas, Pilate, the leaders of Israel. But there is grace for those who call upon Jesus. One thief dies and meets His maker who casts him into the lake of fire. The other thief dies and goes to paradise with Jesus.
         Both had sufficient time for repentance. Both behold the face of Christ. But only one looked to Him for the forgiveness of sins.
The words written in Latin and Hebrew and Greek, declare to the world that Jesus is the King. This is true.

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