Sermon for Sunday April 1st, 2012
Five Miracles From the Cross by Bruce Lee
Five Miracles from the Cross
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour…, 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; 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 27:45-53 (KJV)
Intro: There were Five Miracles that occurred while Jesus was being crucified on the cross.
1. Darkness at midday vs. 45
2. Rending of the veil of the Temple vs. 51
3. Quaking of the earth vs. 51
4. Opening of the graves vs. 52
5. Coming forth of the bodies of the saints after the resurrection of Christ vs. 53
All of these miracles are part of God’s plan and were designed to build upon and add to the saving work of Jesus Christ. These miracles drew humankind closer to Christ and closer to “atonement” with God.
We find the first of the Five Miracles From the Cross in Matthew 27:45
I. Darkness at midday vs. 45
The King James Bible reads this way...
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour."
Or I would like to offer a translation that is perhaps closer to the original Greek.
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land (earth) until the ninth hour," Luke 23:44 (NIV)
"for the sun stopped shining." Luke 23:45 (NIV)
Notice two things 1. The darkness came over the whole earth. 2. The sun stopped shining.
I am convinced that the original Greek is strong in its meaning. The original Greek does not merely say..., the sun was darkened. Nor does it simply say the sun's light failing. But it says the sun itself failing. The sun itself failed. THE SUN STOPPED SHINING!
This can mean but one thing. The entire earth (and entire solar system for that matter) was cast into utter darkness. This is no ordinary eclipse…, This is a miracle from the cross.
So with this first miracle God was speaking..., not just to those who had gathered on Calvary Hill but the message of God went beyond the rim of Calvary, beyond the city of Jerusalem..., to people everywhere around the entire globe...the world was cast into utter darkness.
Now, Christ had already hung upon the cross for three hours before the darkness fell.
The first three hours are filled with activity, the movement of people, the sound of voices.
But with the darkness came silence. All activity ceased. Movement came to an abrupt halt. The sound of voices and mockery are heard no more.
During these first 3 hours. the Chief Priest were busy complaining about the superscription over the cross which read, "This is the King of the Jews."
Someone had taken a board or piece of sheaf and wrote, "This is the King of the Jews." They had nailed it to the top of the cross which Jesus hung on. The chief priest saw it. They did not want any glory or honor given to this man. They wanted it changed. They wanted it re-written to say, “He CLAIMS TO BE the King of the Jews."
The Chief Priest storm off to the governor's palace murmuring and passing their complaints..., screaming objections in out-rage.
During the first 3 hours on the cross…, the soldiers were busy, dividing up the garments of the Crucified One, busy casting lots for His robe.
The multitude of people had their part also, for in verse 39 we read, "And they that passed by reviled him, hurling insults...wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it up again in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, let him come down from the cross." They mocked as he suffered in agony.
Then suddenly the scene changed completely. Suddenly the voices were stilled. The chief priest, the soldiers, the mocking crowd of people..., were all silenced by the darkness.., a strange…, unnatural darkness…, miraculous darkness…, that had fallen over the whole earth.
My friends I urge each of you to listen as we see the plague of darkness fall upon Calvary's Hill, And let our hearts hear, there is NOT A SOUND IN ALL THE EARTH that can be heard…, except for the shedding of the Saviors Blood, as it falls drop by drop upon the earth. He shed his blood for your sins and mine. Can you hear the drops of blood falling for you?
Second verses 50 and 51 "Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain for the top to the bottom." Here we find the SECOND Miracle From The Cross...
II. Rending of the veil of the Temple vs. 51
Now for us to fully grasp the significance of this second miracle from the cross we must understand the meaning of the veil.
The temple in those days was divided into three areas or parts.
1. There was the Outer Court...,where the congregation was permitted to enter.
2. the Holy Place..., where the priests entered...,
3. and the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter.
The veil stood blocking the congregation, separating the people,
The people were separated/outside and away from the mercy seat, separated/outside the Ark of the Covenant, separated/outside and away from the presence of God. The congregation was shut off from and were not allowed to approach the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and this happened only once each year. And then only after he had been properly cleansed according to the ceremonial law.
The veil stood as a real separation. A barrier which sin had placed between the sinner and God.
But the rending,...the breaking of the veil...showed that the price had been paid, now through the blood of Jesus Christ’s people everywhere are permitted to come into the presence of God.
No longer are we to be separated from God. If we will only believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as our New High Priest then the way is now open for all that will believe to enter into the presence of God.
Now we must go on to the THIRD Miracle From the Cross.
The bible says the earth did quake
III. Quaking of the earth vs. 51
Why do I call this a miracle from the cross?
History records that earthquakes are pretty common.
Just last week there was an earthquake in Mexico that was about 7.5.
What makes this earthquake at the cross a miracle?
Well, for a number of reasons.
First of all an earthquake of any proportion causes a lot of damage and destruction. A lot of lives are lost.
Like the earthquake in 1988 in Armenia a city of Russia. It only measured 5.0 but there were at least 25,000 people killed. Many of the buildings and homes were made out of clay mud and stones. Those houses were very similar to the houses in Jerusalem..., Thousands of lives were lost...caused by that earthquake.
The bible tells us how strong and powerful this earthquake at the cross was. It says in verse 51 that earthquake was so strong the “rocks were rent.”
The rocks were not simply shook or cracked like from a normal earthquake. The bible says they were rent, torn apart, broke open. And the bible goes on to say the graves were opened.
Only a powerful earthquake could have caused the rocks to be rent apart and the earth to be upheaved and graves to be opened at the same time.
But again you ask. Well how do we know that this earthquake was a miracle? You may say there have been several earthquakes of that magnitude and force recorded down through history.
Let us turn back to Calvary's Hill where we can find so many answers.
Notice, the three crosses were not moved by the earthquake. The three crosses were not displaced out of the ground.
Imagine if you can: The earth quaking. Rocks spitting right down the middle. Graves and Tombs bursting open. But the three crosses on Calvary's Hill stood undisturbed.
The veil of the Temple…, a solid rock…, is torn in two pieces.
We must recognize that God had a purpose for creating this earthquake.
If it had been a natural quake: The cross would have fallen. The buildings in all Jerusalem would have been destroyed. (Remember, many were hiding from God in their homes!!!) Hiding from the miracle of darkness at noonday. Thousands in the city would have been killed as the clay houses collapsed into dust. Hundreds of buildings would have been completely destroyed...clay houses falling upon those hiding inside. But God has a plan for these people who had just rejected Christ.
God's plan was for these people who had just witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus was for them to live and see the temple veil torn apart, but the rest of the temple standing undamaged.
God's plan was for these people who had just rejected Christ and rejected many of the prophets of God before Jesus...; God’s plan was for them to see the graves open and these bodies of the saints lying open.
Remember this happened during the Jewish festival...the religious Passover. It was unlawful for anyone to cover the bodies on this sacred day, so the bodies lay there one full day open for all to see. God’s plan was for these people to see the uncovered bones of the saints.
This friend was the THIRD and FOURTH Miracles From the Cross: III. the great earthquake and IV. Opening of the graves vs. 52
The last miracle from the cross came three days later. It stands apart from the other miracles.
Let us notice the Graves were opened by the earthquake but the bodies of the saints did not come out of the graves until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
V. Coming forth of the bodies of the saints after the resurrection of Christ vs. 53
I see so many people read over and bypass or misunderstand this miracle. Verse 53 says “after His resurrection.” After the resurrection of Jesus Christ the bodies of the saints which slept arose and appeared unto many.
Now keep in mind it was the earthquake that caused the graves to open...,
But it was 3 days later and by the POWER OF THE RESURRECTION of Christ that the bodies of the saints were raised!
My friends this is why we are gathered here this Sunday morning to celebrate the Easter Resurrection. It is only through the power of the resurrection of Christ that we have hope for an eternal life in heaven.
When this body of ours dies, all life is gone, and “gone is gone.” There is no power; there is no knowledge or force known to man whereby life can be restored except by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Oh happy Easter! This raising of the bodies of the saints shows us here today that God has the power to reunite the body and the soul which are separated at the time of physical death.
If you will read in Ecclesiastes
"and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath (spirit) returns to God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NRSV)
You will find that at the time of death this old body goes back to the dust of the earth and the soul goes back to the God which gives it. Until the time of the second coming of the Son of God. THEN..., This old body will be changed into a heavenly body..., a celestial body, transformed in moment and twinkling of an eye to be taken home to heaven to be with God...to live forever.
This Fifth Miracle From the Cross points toward that great resurrection morning when all the dead of all ages shall rise.
In fact all five of these miracles lead us to this conclusion,
1. The unnatural darkness at noonday..., teaches us that Christ is for people everywhere,
2. The rending of the veil, teaches us that it is only through faith in Jesus as our New High Priest that we can receive forgiveness.
3/4. The quaking of the ground and the opening of the graves show us God’s power and His authority over the earth.
5. And last the resurrection of Christ first and then the resurrection of the saints show Gods Eternal Plan of salvation is completed. “Oh death where is your sting, Oh grave where is your victory?”
Death and the Grave are conquered by Jesus Our Savior.
Oh hear me for the hour is coming, in which the son of man cometh again.
All the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Then we which are alive and remain faithful shall be caught up to meet them in the air.
Are you prepared?
Closing: These five miracles are given to you as proof, and hope, don't let them be done in vain. Which resurrection would you go to? A Resurrection of life everlasting or the resurrection of eternal separation from God.
If you are unsure about your salvation then come to the altar.
Come before it is too late.
Calvary Hill is the place to find life's answers.
Christians listen closely...you should also come this morning...
TO HUMBLY REJOICE because you have received the greatest gift that anyone could ever possibly receive...
The gift of God's only begotten son Jesus Christ giving His body and blood for you upon the cross, that you might be saved.