Faithfully Serving to the Very End
Text: Matthew 27 : 32 - 66
Many taunted Jesus and mocked Him. They dared Him to come down from the Cross. They stood in total defiance of all that He had taught. For three long hours, Jesus bore all the barbed invectives hurled at Him. Quietly and with great dignity He bore all the insults hurled at Him as only the Son of God could!
The manner in which Jesus bore His sufferings touched the heart of one of the robbers. Whereas he railed against Jesus a short while ago, his heart began to open. He turned to Jesus as best he could in his dying moments. Would Jesus respond to Him?
“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him,
saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’
But the other, answering, rebuked Him, saying, ‘Do you not
even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds;
but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus,
‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’
And Jesus said to Him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you
will be with Me in Paradise.'”
Did the chief priests want some action from Jesus? Surely this was one of the finest things that anyone could expect from a true Servant of God. Ignoring His own personal suffering, Jesus heard and received the words of the robber. He ministered as He always did. He promised him a place in paradise (another word for His kingdom) when death took place that day!
Jesus’ response to His suffering was correct and appropriate. It fulfilled the Scriptures. The manner in which He coped with His suffering was outstanding and exemplary. It was certainly not in vain. He led a robber into the kingdom of God at the very last hour. Jesus proved Himself faithful to the very end! An unlikely candidate became a believer and was added to the kingdom of God that very day!
SIGNS FROM HEAVEN
Were the chief priests and scribes looking for signs from heaven as proof of the identity of Jesus as the Messiah-King? How would they interpret the following signs that were given that very day Jesus was crucified and after?
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was
darkness over all the land.
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from
top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks
were split, and 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.”
MATTHEW 27:45, 51-53
1. A mighty sign that must not be ignored
For three long hours, the whole land was covered in darkness! This was not a commonplace eclipse of the sun! This was an act of God! Just as He sent darkness to cover the land of Egypt in the days of Moses (Exodus 10:21-29) to demonstrate His power, majesty and sovereignty so once again, He covered the whole land with darkness. Just as the plague of darkness showed His divine displeasure against Egypt, so He showed His anger towards the people who crucified His Son! Had the scholars of the land understood what the darkness meant?
2. The Tearing of the Veil of the Temple
The priests who served in the temple must have been horrified to find the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies torn from top to bottom! This had to be a divine act. Nobody outside the priests were allowed in this section of the Temple. Certainly none of the priests would even think of rending the temple veil! And who was capable of tearing the long veil from top to bottom anyway? But who would understand this sign and its significance? The rending of the temple curtain must match the meaning of the mysterious heavy darkness that covered the land!
3. An earthquake too
If darkness did not fill the heart with dread and fear, perhaps an earthquake would. What if both events happened at the same time? Wouldn’t the heart be filled with a special sense of awe at the power of God?
4. The dead resurrected
As the earthquake hit the land, so graves or tombs opened up! Some of the dead actually resurrected! Surely this was a sign to be heeded!
The cumulative impact must have been great (at least potentially so), but for all these signs, few seemed to have been impressed.
HARDENING OF THE HEART
As Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Lord in ancient days, so the enemies of Jesus hardened their hearts. They had dared to do the unimaginable and the unthinkable! They had perverted the course of justice and caused the death of none other than the Son of God!
That the special signs that day did not affect the hardened Jewish hierarchy should not come as a surprise. However, we have much to learn about the dangers that attend the hardened heart. The hardened heart situation is not a special or isolated problem. It is far more prevalent and widespread than most realize!
Do you feel your heart becoming calloused and hardened over the years? The wise would take every precaution against the heart from becoming calloused.