Daily Devotional

April 4, 2021

Daybreak: Matthew 27:27-56

“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54)

Why is it that some people are willing to die for the Word of God and others deny its truth? Does God reveal Himself to some and not to others? What is the difference?

One time, some of my family members talked to an older gentleman about the Lord. They attempted to convince him that the Bible is true, that we have a Creator, that Jesus is real, and that we all need to be saved. He stated that at a young age he had asked God to show Himself real to him, but that God had never done so in his eighty years of life.

The Roman centurion in this passage stated clearly at the crucifixion, “Truly this was the Son of God.” He saw the greatest event this earth has ever experienced, and when he felt the earth move beneath his feet, he stated his belief. However, we do not know whether this was just an acknowledgement or a life-changing conviction.

The older gentleman my family members reasoned with had been seen at different times in his life singing a hymn and weeping. Certainly then, and most likely at other times as well, God was revealing Himself to this man, but he had chosen to ignore this “still small voice” and looked for something more spectacular. 

Do we require a sign, an earthquake, a bolt of lightning, or a gentle nudge? The Lord knows how to reveal Himself personally. He knows how we are made, our level of understanding, and our personal needs. God has promised to reveal Himself to every soul (John 1:9). Regardless of how the revelation is given to us, we control our response to it, and whether or not we believe God enough to let Him change our lives. 

Once we have prayed and received the salvation that Christ’s sacrifice of Himself makes possible, we want to be sensitive to the gentlest prodding by the Spirit of God. He says He will guide us, and we want His help each day to be sure that we say what He wants, go where He wants, and do what He wants. We desire to be quick to believe that God is with us and will allow only those things that are best for us. Then He will be able to truly work in our lives.

Background

Jesus suffered a great deal of physical abuse. The soldiers stripped Him, put a scarlet robe on Him, and placed a crown of thorns on His head, mocking Him as royalty. They gave Him a reed for a scepter, bowed before Him, and mocked Him by saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him and hit Him with a reed, not knowing this was truly the King, the Son of God. Jesus submitted to this humiliation for us.

Crucifixion was the most demeaning, shameful, and painful of all executions, and was never talked about in polite Roman society. Criminals were forced to carry their crosses, or minimally the cross beam, to the place of execution, and to wear a sign stating their crime. Jesus was probably unable to carry His cross because of the severe abuse He had received, and the Roman soldiers compelled Simon of Cyrene to do it. Cyrene was in northern Africa, and no doubt Simon had come to Jerusalem for the Passover. It appears that this man’s two sons, Alexander and Rufus, became Christians later (Mark 15:21; Romans 16:13). It is quite likely that carrying Jesus’ cross was a turning point for Simon.

Gall was a narcotic, and mingled with vinegar, it was a drugged wine. This was often given to prisoners before crucifixion, and it was also a fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 69:21. Jesus refused it, no doubt because He wanted to be completely conscious and have a clear mind while He carried out the Father’s plan.

Customarily, the soldiers shared the clothing at an execution. In this case, they threw dice, and unknowingly fulfilled Psalm 22:18. 

Executions took place regularly at Golgotha, a public place outside Jerusalem. The intention was that such prominent display would deter criminals. People going by could mock those being punished. The Jewish leaders joined in mocking Jesus, and Psalm 22:6-8 was fulfilled.

Jesus was put on the cross at 9:00 a.m. From the sixth to the ninth hour (from noon to 3:00 p.m.) God sent darkness; it was not an eclipse or a storm. Jesus took the sins of the whole human family upon Himself; He bore God’s wrath, and this agony was worse than the physical abuse He endured. His cry at the end of that time was a quote from Psalm 22:1. 

When Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. This was the curtain which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Prior to Jesus’ death, only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, and he went in only once a year. Because Jesus fulfilled the picture illustrated by the Temple worship, He permanently opened the way for man to have direct access to God through His atoning death. The priests and sacrifices were no longer necessary.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI.   The official presentation and rejection of the King
       E.   The sufferings and death of the King
             3.   The crucifixion of the King
                   a.   The scourging of the King (27:27-31)
                   b.   The cross of the King (27:32)
                   c.   The death of the King (27:33-50)
                         (1)   From 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 (27:33-44)
                                (a)   The King placed on the cross (27:33-36)
                                (b)   The crime occasioned by the cross (27:37)
                                (c)   The companions on the cross (27:38)
                                (d)   The mockery at the cross (27:39-44)
                         (2)   From 12:00-3:00 p.m. (27:45-50)
                                (a)   The darkness (27:45)
                                (b)   The two sayings (27:46-50)
                                       [1]   The first utterance (27:46)
                                       [2]   The reaction of the people (27:47-49)
                                       [3]   The second utterance (27:50)
                    d.   The supernatural events at the death of the King (27:51-56)

A Closer Look

  1. What was the accusation put on the Cross over Jesus’ head?
     
  2. What was God’s reaction when Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, and the sacrifice for sin was finished? What is God’s reaction to sin today?
     
  3. What does Jesus’ death on the Cross mean to you?

Conclusion

No matter how hard we try, we cannot completely fathom the price Jesus paid to purchase our salvation. How have we responded to His love?

Reference Materials