Matthew 27:45-56: Truly Son of God
March 22, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Ne’er was love like this. The very land itself mourns: darkness hangs over the earth. Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” (27:46). Misunderstood ‘til the end, some think he is calling Elijah (“Eli, Eli, Lema, sabachthani”) (27:47). Jesus cried out again with a louder voice and then died (27:50).
What happened next could surely never be forgotten. First of all, the temple curtain is torn in two, from top to bottom (27:51). A divine hand reaches down and rips the barrier that kept sinners out of the holy of holies. Now through Christ’s death and faith in him, the way was clear for us to have access to the very presence of God!
The very earth shook, rocks split (27:51). The cosmos reeled as its Creator God incarnate suffered and died for the sins of the world. The power of that death is immediately witnessed to; as a precursor of the resurrection of the dead to come (in the resurrection of the Christ to come), there is a little mini-resurrection of some faithful believers (27:52-53).
So powerful was all this testimony that the pagan who had watched Jesus die, a hard–bitten centurion, says, “Truly this was the Son of God” (27:54). Because the original did not have uppercase, nor an indefinite article (“a”), this was literally said as: “truly son of God this was being.” Whether or not the Roman centurion at this moment—from his presumably pagan background—entered into a full faith of Jesus as the God of the Bible or not, we can say at this moment he recognized the Divine in Christ. According to the limits of his understanding, the centurion worshiped Jesus as he died on the cross.
The many women who were there are also mentioned as witnesses (27:55-56), and their record will become important later in the story.
Given the attention the Gospels give to the cross, we cannot ignore the centrality of the cross to Christian ministry and to the Christian life. As Paul said, we preach Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 1:23). This moment, this historic event, this salvation crucifixion, is the heart of the Christian faith. It is here that we see God redeem sinners, and here that we bow and worship Jesus as the Son of God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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