Now, as He had at last expiated the very last sin of the very last of His people, the Son of God was ready to die.  He cried with a loud voice, declaring, as John tells us, that the work was finished.  Sin was finished, an end was made of transgression, the types and ceremonies were concluded because fulfilled, the promises of God regarding the salvation of sinful men were now yea and amen in Him.  Having cried out, He yielded up the ghost.  No man took His life from Him, but He freely offered it up, because the wages of sin is death.  Having been accounted as sin, He must die.  Now at last, justice was satisfied towards the people of Jehovah’s choice.  The law could no longer bring a charge against them, because all of its righteous demands of punishment had been exacted upon our great Substitute.

As God’s dear Son expired, another great miracle occurred in the temple, signifying that the death of Christ had abolished the ceremonial statutes.  The veil of the temple, without a single human hand being laid upon it, miraculously tore in half, from the top to the bottom, revealing for the first time to the eyes of others than the high priest the Holy of holies.  Now that Christ had died, conquering death and cleansing sin, access to God’s holy throne is now free to all who put their trust in Him.  We no longer have any need of a levitical priest, nor must we wait outside the sanctuary while the priest enters in with blood to atone for Himself and for the errors of the people.  Each believer in Christ now has the unspeakable privilege of approaching the throne of God for himself.  Even the holiness of God, that great, supreme, dreadful attribute of the Almighty, is no longer a barrier to us, because everything that offends His holiness was put out of the way by the death of Christ.  He has truly and forever removed our sins and far as the east is from the west.  Now we may triumphantly say of ourselves, “I am accepted in the beloved!”  As one good old hymn writer put it, “With my Saviour’s garments on, holy as the Holy One.”  Sin was the thing which prevented access into the holy place, but now that sin has been forgiven through the blood of Christ, we may boldly approach the throne of grace to find help in time of need.  What a glorious salvation has our blessed Redeemer wrought by offering Himself up on the cross!

Matthew reports another miracle, which is not recorded by any of the other gospel authors.  There was a great earthquake, which doubtless symbolized the shaking of the things which went before, namely, the ceremonial law with all its institutions, and the establishment of a new and better covenant.  But along with the earthquake, many graves were opened.  After the Lord raised from the dead three days later, many of the saints came forth alive out of these graves, and appeared to people in the holy city.  I imagine that this miracle was intended to portray that Christ’s people, in the eyes of God, both died and resurrected with Him.  Paul has reference to this glorious judicial act in Ephesians 2, when He speaks of us being dead in sins, but then says God quickened us together with Christ.  Not only were we quickened, made spiritually alive to God by virtue of the Saviour’s death, but the apostle also declares that we were raised up together with Christ, and made to sit in heavenly places with Him.  So real and vital is the union between Jesus and His people, that the righteous Father views us as if it were we who were nailed to a bloody tree, suffering for sin.  He views us as if we had expiated sin, and as if we were risen from the dead.  This is because of our union with Christ.  Everything that He did was for us, and we were viewed by the Father in Him.  Thus, as Christ is seen as righteous, so we are seen as righteous when once we trust in Him.  As Christ is exalted and glorified, so we are glorified in Him.  As no sin can be laid to the charge of the Lord Jesus, so we may boldly say, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?”  Our God has justified us, by establishing Christ as our Substitute, so that all of His glorious acts as Mediator are accounted to our benefit.

Even the heathen soldiers, who earlier had been mocking Jesus in His agony, could not but be affected by the stirring scene.  Doubtless even these rough, hard men had been shaken by the mysterious darkness and the great earthquake.  The centurion, and those with him, knew innately that all these miracles of nature were not by coincidence, but were directly connected with the Man hanging upon that middle cross.  Their courageous hearts were stirred within them, and they feared greatly.  The centurion was led to exclaim, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  It is to be hoped that he viewed the dead Saviour with an eye of faith, and found in that Son of God his sure and only hope of eternal life.

 

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