Continuing in the Context of the Cross
Matthew 27:45-56, with the right to double back to see more prophecy we missed in my last missive. Yes, there is more and we can’t come close to covering it all.
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, among whom was Mary Magdalene, along with Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
I wasted all my words in my last missive–let’s dive right in to today’s text.
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Darkness, not a little less light, but darkness, fell upon the land. Was it pitch black, I doubt it or complete chaos would have ensued. Nevertheless, Matthew, Mark and Luke describe it as “darkness,” or; “obscurity.” A day of thick clouds perhaps? From high noon until 3:00 PM, Jerusalem Standard Time, the land, perhaps only Jerusalem proper, was in darkness. Because this was during the Passover, on or very near a full moon, we can reasonably assume that it was not an eclipse. My opinion; supernaturally placed, very deep, dark clouds more intense than before a tornado.
It reminds me of Amos 8:9; “‘And it will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘That I shall make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight.'” I know what you are thinking; “yes, Russell P, it sounds similar but you’re always writing, ‘consider the context.'” You are correct. Let’s do that.
“The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds. Because of this will not the land quake And everyone who dwells in it mourn? Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, And it will be tossed about, And subside like the Nile of Egypt. And it will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘That I shall make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight. Then I shall turn your festivals into mourning And all your songs into lamentation; And I will bring sackcloth on everyone’s loins And baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, And the end of it will be like a bitter day.'”
Matthew 27 excerpts: “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened.” The land is dark, the earth quaked, the festival of Passover has turned into mourning. Figuratively for the Pharisees and scribes but what about the friend of Jesus, Mary and the mother of Jesus, Mary, and the aunt of Jesus, Mary? Consider what they saw. Despite dogmatic delusional doctrine, Mary almost certainly had other children. Nevertheless we see that the mourning is for the one and only Son of God. I cannot fathom how Mary must have felt, watching the torment of her firstborn son, whom she conceived through the Holy Spirit, up on that cross, with the spitting, and mocking. All her son did to deserve death was to teach the truth and heal thousands. Make no mistake, this is the day of days unlike any other day before or after. The whole of history pivots on this day of days when we as a world with our sins caused the crucifixion of Christ, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Matthew portrays Jesus as the true Israel and yet here is where we see their paths ultimately diverge. The veil was torn in two and Jesus died but spoiler alert; Jesus lives. Their house is being left to them empty, because Jesus fulfilled the Temple, Law and prophets. Even before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Holy of Holies was opened wide to the world. Jesus rose from the dead but the Temple never will. The Temple can be rebuilt on the exact same spot, to the exact specifications and the lost Ark of the Covenant can be found and placed in the Temple, but it is meaningless. There now exists priests who have been consecrated, a red heifer and all the instruments needed to resume temple worship. Nevertheless, Jesus rose from the dead after dying from crucifixion on this day of days, what could possibly top that?
The author of Hebrews writes: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, ‘BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD. FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM UPON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, “KNOW THE LORD,” FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.’ When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is bready to disappear.”
For absolute clarity, read the book of Hebrews, the author is clearly writing about the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood. But as always I am getting way ahead of myself. We’re considering the cross. Notice; “‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?’ And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.'” Jesus is quoting David, why would they think he was calling for Elijah? Let’s keep reading. “And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.’” While there is a traditional correlation between Passover, Elijah and wine, why would they assume that Jesus was crying out for Elijah to save him by quoting David? Also, don’t miss that the Father has turned his back to Jesus, figuratively speaking.
I have attempted to make much of Matthew presenting Jesus as the true Israel based upon Matthew’s apparent aspiration to his audience and the continuing context, searching for the sublime string. I know that I could have done a much better job but I hope that I have done well enough for us to see the sublime string and the culture, context and content. The Jewish people were, most still are, desperately seeking and waiting for their Messiah. Yet when he came, most did not recognize him, despite overwhelming evidence from prophecy and signs. Prophecy and signs meant for them in their time and cultural context, not necessarily for us in our culture. The majority of things written are written to them, but preserved for us so that we may believe by their unbelief. Paul writes about this in what is quite possibly the most mysterious passage in the New Testament, including Revelation. The reason that it is mysterious is our baggage. We interpret it based upon our preconceived notions and presuppositions, translating the text by what we have been taught.
“And David says, ‘LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM. LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER.” I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.”
Without Israel, salvation would not have come to the world. Paul continues and reminds us “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved.” Paul cannot contradict himself and Matthew makes massive mention and manifests the Messiah as true Israel. Paul is not talking out of the other side of his face or being hypocritical. This is why we take our vitamins, Expository exegesis of examples enlightens. Within the same context Paul writes; “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.” And to the Galatians Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no room for antisemitism because their failure is our fullness and ordained by God. All the first followers and missionaries were Jewish. We need to have a culture of the Christ and his cross, to make them jealous not promote the false fables and promises of a future, true, earthly Temple. Jesus is the only true Temple, we don’t want to downplay what Jesus did on the cross, to which the Law and prophets, Temple and sacrifices point.
Why did they think Jesus was calling out to Elijah? Better yet, why did they mock Jesus saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him?” Because they had knowledge of the Scripture but didn’t consider the context. The dogmatic dispensationalist would argue that I am mocking them because I don’t consider the context. But I am not mocking, merely rebutting what is said on the television and radio these days, in which the dogmatic dispensationalists mock my beliefs. I write to the two of you so that you will see the sublime string and irony in the pre-tribulation rapture, which has become a snare and a trap, like prophecy to the people present at the cross–misunderstood. Better to say, a day late and a dollar short.
Both David and Isaiah spoke of this day of days and the dull, dim eyes of the bystanders. And today we read them saying; “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” Because Malachi wrote; “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” Day late and a dollar short. Matthew, in his sublime string, told us what Jesus told his disciples about John the Baptist; “and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” But the bystanders missed it due to their dull and dim eyes.
Notice that the Roman centurion did not miss the signs, which fits in well with the sublime string and continuing context. His eyes were open wide, along with others. “Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!'” Again, this is fulfillment of prophecy, as is everything that happens on this day of days. “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.”
We read previously of the following mocking: “HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET HIM DELIVER Him now, IF HE TAKES PLEASURE IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The centurion probably heard this mocking and ironically it helped him hear and see the signs on this day of days. Nevertheless, this is the sublime string of which we see. Their rejection was riches for the world. And this, once again, brings us back to David’s words in Psalm 22; “‘He trusts in the LORD,’ they say, ‘let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'” In the last irony of ironies on this day of days of which we will take the time to see, the bystanders mocked Jesus with the same words with which David was mocked. Even the unbelieving use prophecy to participate.
They didn’t see the fulfillment found in Jesus on this day of days, do we, or are we dogmatic about future fulfillment, coming up a day late and a dollar short? Do we want a culture of waiting for rapture or a culture of the cross, fulfilling the Great Commission? But I am getting ahead of myself again. Nevertheless we are getting close. The paths of the true Israel and the apostate Israel are diverging. We see the sublime string of a come-and-see religion to a go-and-tell cross-culture, Spiritual lifestyle.
In our current content, Jesus is now dead. “And the end of it will be like a bitter day.”