DUNCAN/Christ yields up his spirit

DUNCAN/Christ yields up his spirit


If you have Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Matthew chapter 27 verses 50 – 56. We will look at this passage under three headings. Firstly, in verse 50, we will see the willing death of Jesus. Secondly, in verses 51 – 53, we will consider the signs and prophecies involved with Christ’s death. Lastly, in verses 54 – 56, we will see some unlikely converts and faithful disciples. 

I. Jesus Dies Willingly 

In verse 50 we see Christ committing Himself into the hands of God, in yielding up His spirit. And even in the manner of His death, we learn of Jesus’ willingness to die for us. Jesus to the very end is conscious. Jesus to the very end is in control, and before He dies, He pulls together all His strength, He lifts Himself up, and He cries out. And in so doing, He commits Himself back into the hands of His heavenly Father. Matthew is indicating that even Jesus’ manner of death was voluntary. He decided when He would die. 

That’s the first thing that Matthew wants you to contemplate, that His death was willing, and He was in control. And I want to pause with you for a second just to think how encouraging that would have been to the disciples. The disciples are not feeling in control at this moment. The disciples are feeling so out of control that they aren’t even present. They are afraid for their lives. As they look at their Lord dying on a tree, they don’t even think He’s in control, and they’ve got to be wondering in their hearts if God is in control. And here is their Lord Jesus even in control of the timing of His death. Think of how important that is for us in our own circumstances, in our own trials and difficulties to know that even at the very darkest point of human experience, your Lord is in control. And we see it even in the hour of His death.

II. Signs and Prophecies Fulfilled

Upon the death of Christ, Matthew tells us in verse 51 the veil of the temple was rent. Hebrews says that what is happening is God is signifying that the way into His presence has now been opened in Jesus. No longer into His presence through the sacrificial system, and no longer is it closed off to all His people except for the high priest once a year; it’s now opened in Jesus Christ who has gone within the veil.

The earthquake itself harkens back to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, what are earthquakes? They are viewed by the prophets as a sign of God’s judgment. And here even at the death of Christ we see the earthquake as a divine approval of Christ. The world may have rejected it, but God, even in this supernatural event, of the earthquake is showing His approval for His Son. And so this whole complex of signs actually ends up pointing us to the absolute necessity of Christ for salvation.

And then he goes on to tell us in verses 52 and 53 that Jesus’ death is a fulfillment of one of Ezekiel’s prophecies that is well-known: The Valley of Dry Bones. God reveals to us here that Jesus’ death accomplished the design of this prophecy and these events which occurred in connection with Jesus’ death are a portent, a foreshadowing of what is to come in the great resurrection. And the very resurrection of the saints that occurred in those days around the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was a little foretaste of the great day of resurrection. 

III. Unlikely Converts and Faithful Disciples 

If you look at verse 54 you see the Roman centurion’s confession. This person of rank in the Roman guards sees what is happening. He sees the earthquake. He sees Jesus and the way He has trusted God. He sees these things, and he admits what the Jewish religious establishment was so desirous to suppress. They wanted no one to profess Jesus as the Son of God. And here this pagan, this Gentile, this Roman soldier sees what’s happening, and he confesses. And apparently Matthew says the other soldiers did too, the ones who had been mocking Him, the ones who had been dividing His garments. Matthew is rebuking religious unbelief. The religious establishment should have been the ones professing Jesus to be the Son of God. Instead, they killed Him. While this Gentile, these Gentiles who didn’t have the law, didn’t have the prophets, didn’t have a religious upbringing, confess Him to be the Son of God.

Lastly, in verses 55 – 56, we see the presence of these female followers. And we see Matthew, in mentioning this passing reality, this historical fact, is pointing to the weakness of the disciples. Apart from John, none of the other disciples who belonged to the twelve, as far as we know, were near Him at Calvary. They are conspicuously absent, and these female disciples of the Lord are conspicuously present. And Matthew is telling us about them to highlight their courage, and to highlight the important role that they would have as witnesses of the primary events of our redemption. Think of it, much of what Peter would preach about the day of Jesus’ death and about the day of His resurrection he would not have witnessed firsthand. He would learn it from these faithful women who saw it with their own eyes, and then told these disciples who would become the pillars of the church.

Isn’t it interesting that not only Matthew, but also Mark and Luke and John indicate that these women were the ones who were faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ to the end? And so, the four followers of the Lord Jesus who were counseled by the Holy Spirit to write the gospels themselves had to write down the fact that they were not there. All of this points to the fact that those who are going to be messengers of grace must themselves have felt the need of grace. And every one of these men had to acknowledge to themselves that in the hour of His need, they were not there for Jesus. And yet He loved them, and yet He called them to be those who would proclaim His death until He comes.

And if we don’t have that same pervasive sense of our need of grace, we’re not ready to tell anybody about grace. Have you been humbled so that you might serve Him in the message of grace? If you haven’t, come to Him. Come to Him as He is on His cross, and with the disciples, behold Him and trust in Him, and you will find in His store of mercy a place for you just as there was a place for Matthew and for Mark and for Luke and for John and for those blessed women who attended Him to the end.

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