God's Commentary on the Cross

As we approach “Good Friday” and the death of Christ on the cross, we would do well to pause and consider a brief glimpse from Matthew’s account as to the meaning of the supernatural events that attended the crucifixion.

A few years ago, an Anglican Priest caused quite a furor as he declared “that the church's traditional understanding of the cross of Christ is both ‘repulsive and ‘insane.’ He went on to say “that the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is barbaric and morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into ‘cosmic child abuse.’”

I still have in my files a quote from the Unitarian Universalist’s Church that was published in the Augusta Chronicle, posted April 8, 1990, by then pastor, Rod Thompson, entitled, Why I Reject the Cross: “As a symbol of faith, I believe the cross to be inadequate, misleading, masochistic, and divisive. In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, the Christian Church clings to that symbol. As we celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter, I think it more important that we get our focus away from the cross.”

We could continue giving numerous men’s comments on the meaning of the cross upon which the Son of God died, but the only one that really matters is Father God’s view.

From the gospel according to Matthew 27:45-53,  alongside the human drama at the crucifixion of Jesus, Matthew records a series of physical events, the darkness, the tearing of the temple curtain, the earthquake and the resurrection of dead people, which add a powerful sense of God’s commentary on the cross and the far-reaching significance of the death of Jesus. No doubt this contributed to the climactic exclamation of one of the soldiers in charge of executing the death penalty, “Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54). God’s commentary on the cross reveals that:

The Supernatural Darkness at the Cross was a Mark of Divine Judgment Matt. 27:45, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.” Jesus was crucified at 9 o’clock in the morning; and from 9 until noon, He hung in the light. But at noon, a miraculous darkness covered the land. This was not a sandstorm or an eclipse, as some liberal writers have suggested. It was a heaven-sent darkness that lasted for three hours. It was as though all of creation was sympathizing with the Creator. There were three days of darkness in Egypt before Passover (Exo_10:21-23); and there were three hours of darkness before the Lamb of God died for the sins of the world. 

“During the three hours that this darkness continued, we do not find that he said one word, but passed this time in a silent retirement into his own soul, which was now in agony, wrestling with the powers of darkness, and taking in the impressions of his Father's displeasure, not against himself, but the sin of man, which he was now making his soul an offering for. Never were there three such hours since the day that God created man upon the earth, never such a dark and awful scene; the crisis of that great affair of man's redemption and salvation.” (Matthew Henry).

“Well might the sun in darkness hide and shut it’s glories in, when Christ the mighty Maker died for man, the creature’s sin.”

God’s commentary on the cross reveals that:

The Tearing of the Veil in the Temple Meant the Fulfilment of the Old Covenant – Matt. 27:51, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom;”  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, symbolizing that the old order had come to an end (Heb_8:6-13). This curtain veiled the most holy place and hung before the place where the High Priest was offering the Paschal lamb. It was no small curtain, but was sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, woven a handbreadth thick of seventy-two plaits with twenty-four threads each.

The tearing of the veil signifies that the way into God's presence is now open to all through a new and living way (Heb_10:19-22). The fact that it tears "from top to bottom" shows that no person split the veil. God did it.

The torn veil marked the end of rituals and of separation. It marked the end of Judaism and it's sacrificial system. It marked the beginning of a New High Priest, and every believer becoming a priest with the invitation to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). The veil was replaced by a Person through which we must pass and then we can live in His presence daily.

“I will sing of my Savior's wondrous death,
He conquered when He fell,
Tis finished said His dying breath,
And shook the gates of hell!”

God’s commentary on the cross reveals that:

The Earthquake at Jesus’ Death Mirrored the Final Destruction of the Old Order – Matt. 27:51b, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,” The earthquake, which will be followed by another in Mat_28:2, is a well-known symbol of God’s mighty intervention in the affairs of his world (e.g. Judges_5:4-5; Psa_114:4-7), especially in judgment (e.g. Jer_10:10;Joe_3:16; Nah_1:5-6), and following on the unnatural darkness of Mat_27:45 tells the reader that supernatural events of great significance are taking place.

The earthquake reminds us of what happened at Mount Sinai when God gave the Law to Moses (Exo_19:16). The earthquake at Calvary signified that the demands of the Law had been met and the curse of the Law forever abolished, the old order of Judaism had become obsolete (Heb_12:18-24). The torn veil indicates that He conquered sin; the earthquake suggests that He conquered the Law and fulfilled it; and the resurrections prove that He defeated death.

God’s commentary on the cross reveals that:

The Opening of the Grave in Jerusalem Modeled a Final Resurrection – Matt. 27:52-52, 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.” 

This was a real resurrection of bodies, not just spirits. Only a select number of Old Testament saints were raised. When Jesus died, their spirits came from Sheol - the unseen state of the dead. They were then joined with their resurrected and glorified bodies.

The death of death occurred in the death of Christ. A cross-shaped hole has been blasted through the back end of the grave assuring us that although death will take us in, it can't ultimately keep us. Death is no longer a prison house, instead it has become a passageway to glory for all of those that have fallen in faith at the feet of King Jesus.

The fact that these graves were opened is a demonstration that because of His resurrection, one day the grave will give up all its dead and King Jesus will be absolute Lord over all! God has already given assurance of this in that He has appointed a day in which He will judge the whole world in righteousness by the Man that He raised from the dead - Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31).

God’s commentary on the cross reveals,
that God’s glory is foremost;
that your life need not be futile;
that your sins need not be fatal;
and that your death is not final!