At the cross, Jesus was all alone deserted by all His followers and disciples. Everyone who passed by hurled insults at Him, mocking Him for not being able to save Himself but claiming that He would destroy their temple. Even the two men who were crucified with Jesus on the cross joined in and the chief priests challenged Him to get down from the cross.
Time of Death
From noon darkness took over the land and at about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).Matthew 27:46
Jesus was alone, He had the burden of sin of the entire world on Him. Due to all our sins, Jesus’s connection from God was broken and He was not in communion with His Father at that time. For Jesus, that was the most important thing, connection with His Father. Oftentimes, He would withdraw from everyone to commune with His Father and at this point knowing that sin had separated Him from His Father, He felt forsaken. How often have we felt away from our Father? Most of us might not have even tasted God’s love to feel that personal relationship with Him, let alone feeling forsaken when in sin. Those standing near the cross either misheard Jesus and thought that He was calling the prophet Elijah to come down and help Him or they also hadn’t tasted His love and couldn’t understand what He meant. Then Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and gave up His Spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.Matthew 27:51-52
These events seemed important to reveal the glory of God. We see the centurion and other guards terrified at all that had happened and exclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. Some other things also happened, the curtain of the temple that separated the holy place from the most holy place was torn in two. Jesus had broken the barrier and now we had the opportunity to directly commune with God and opened doors for everyone to reach Him.
A Lonely Funeral
In the evening, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. He took the body, wrapped it and placed it in his new tomb, and rolled a big stone on the entrance. Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sitting opposite the tomb, no one else was there, the disciples were nowhere to be seen.
The disciples had boldly followed Jesus till He was amidst them but the moment He was arrested, they deserted Him. Though the disciples spent quite some time with Him, they couldn’t understand Him or the reason He came down to our level. After Jesus was arrested, they probably felt lost and especially after His death, didn’t have any hope left. Jesus did mention previously to them how He would have to die and how He would rise again on the third day, but fear capsized them and their faith faded away.
The day after Jesus was buried, the chief priest and pharisees went to Pilate with the request to secure the tomb until the third day as they feared Jesus’s resurrection.
It is quite absurd that the Jewish leaders remembered everything that Jesus had said about His rising on the third day and cooked up another story in front of Pilate about how Jesus’s disciples could come and steal His body and claim His resurrection deceitfully. Pilate simply asked them to take a guard along and secure the tomb as they saw fit. The pharisees could clearly see Jesus as the Messiah but they had let satan take over and blind their eyes that they hardened their hearts to an extent where they were ready to do anything to mislead people. We might also have had many opportunities to recognize the love of God and His sacrifice on the cross. The decision is left to us, whether we would like to recognize Him or let satan blind us and become an obstruction to others to understand His love.
He is Risen
After observing the Sabbath, the women disciples of Jesus went to His tomb to properly pay their respects and perform their rituals. The accounts of all the Gospel seem to vary about the events that transpired on that first Easter morn with Matthew giving us only broad details. When the women were approaching the tomb, a violent tremor shook the earth, much like the one that took place on the day of the Lord’s crucifixion. An angel of the Lord had come down and rolled back the stone that covered the entrance of the tomb. The sudden appearance of the heavenly being terrified the men guarding the tomb who perhaps fainted but the angel addressed the women informing them about the whereabouts of their Messiah.
‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’Matthew 28:7
Just as the women were hurrying from the tomb filled with mixed emotions of fear and joy, they came face to face with the one they were looking for. Jesus Himself was standing in front of them and they fell at His feet and began to worship Him.
Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”Matthew 28:10
While the women made their way to inform the disciples of what they saw, the guards went into the city and reported everything they witnessed to the chief priests. The elders got together and devised a plan to discredit the risen Jesus, by accusing His disciples of stealing the disappearance.
Once in the hands of satan we will blindly continue on that path even if all evidence is mounting against our stance. Just like Judas continued on his path of destruction and once satan was done with him, his eyes were opened to see what he had done. Similarly we are all led by satan till the time he has used us to betray God and then casts us aside. The pharisees were on the path of destruction and did not want to look at any evidence that would lead them reach any other conclusion. Their greed for power and lust for control was being used by satan to keep them at bay.
The Great Commission
The remaining eleven met Jesus in Galilee on the mount that Jesus had asked them to come. Jesus gave them one final set of instructions before ascending to His throne.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
- Why did Jesus cry out that God had forsaken Him?
- What was symbolic about the events that occurred after Jesus’ death?
- Why were the disciples not present even for the funeral of their leader?
- Was this a precaution or did the pharisees really believe that Jesus would rise from the dead?
- Even after hearing the supernatural events narrated by the guards, why did the chief priests not believe in the name of Jesus?