November 12, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Wednesday after Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 71, Lev. 20:1-8, Phil. 1:27-2:18
Evening – Psalm 72, Dt. 15:7-15, Mt. 27:45-56

Commentary, Matthew 27:45-56

Christ is on the cross.  The spikes have been driven into His flesh and bones, and only by holding Himself up on the spikes is He able to breathe.  The physical pain must be excruciating, yet He bears a pain far worse than any caused by lash or nails. He bears the wrath of God for our sins.  We have nothing to compare this too, except a fire that burns forever.  Jesus bears that wrath for us. He is made to be sin for us, that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him (see 2 Cor. 5:21).  Thus, He cries in verse 46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Bishop Ryle’s comments express the essence of these words.

They were meant to express the real pressure on his soul of the enormous burden of a world’s sin.  They were meant to show how truly and literally He was our substitute, was made sin, and a curse for us, and endured God’s righteous anger against a world’s sin in His own person.  At that awful moment, the iniquity of us all was laid upon Him to the uttermost.  It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and put Him to grief (Isaiah liii.10) He bore our sins.  He carried our transgressions.  Heavy must have been that burden, real and literal must have been our Lord’s substitution for us, when He the eternal Son of God, could speak of Himself as for a time “forsaken.”
         Let the expression sink down into our hearts, and not be forgotten.  We can have no stronger proof of the sinfulness of sin, or of the vicarious nature of Christ’s suffering, than His cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  It is a cry that should stir us up to hate sin, and encourage us to trust in Christ.

                                                               Expository Thoughts on Matthew

The rending of the veil in verse 51 refers to the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple.  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter this symbol of God’s presence, and he entered with a rope tied around his waist, which enabled his body to be pulled out if he died in the Holy Place.  As Jesus died on the cross this curtain was miraculously torn from top to bottom.  Let us again let Bishop Ryle explain the significance of this miracle.

The rending of the veil proclaimed the termination and passing away of the ceremonial law.  It was a sign that the old dispensation of sacrifices and ordinances was no longer needed.  Its work was done.  Its occupation was gone from the moment that Christ died.  There was no more need of an earthly high priest, and a mercy seat, and a sprinkling of blood, and an offering up of incense, and a day of atonement.  The true High Priest had at length appeared.  The true Lamb of God had been slain.  The true mercy seat was at length revealed.  The figures and shadows were no longer needed.
         That rending of the veil proclaimed the opening of the way of salvation to all mankind.  The way into the presence of God was unknown to the Gentile, and only seen dimly by the Jew, until Christ died.  But Christ having now offered up a perfect sacrifice, and obtained eternal redemption, the darkness and mystery were to pass away.  All were to be invited now to draw near to God with boldness, and approach Him with confidence, by faith in Jesus.  A door was thrown open, and a way of life set before the whole world.
         Let us turn from the story of the crucifixion, every time we read it, with hearts full of praise. Let us praise God for the confidence it gives us as to the ground of our hope of pardon.  Our sins may be many and great, but the payment made by our Great Substitute far outweighs them all. – Let us praise God for the view it gives us of the love of our Father in heaven.  He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will surely give us all things. – Not least, let us praise God for the view it gives us of the sympathy of Jesus with all His believing people.  He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  He knows what suffering is.  He is just the Saviour that an infirm body, with a weak heart, in an evil world, requires.
                                                               Expository Thoughts on Matthew

The resurrection of many of the saints which slept (vs. 52) is yet another miracle that occurs at the moment of Christ’s death.  We do not know who they are.  We know only that they had lived their lives under the Old Testament sacrifices and ceremonies that were shadowy signs of the death of Christ.  Now they are permitted to see, with their own eyes, the fulfillment of those signs   They are resurrected when Christ dies.  They go into Jerusalem, the holy city, at the time of His resurrection.  It is not said what happens to them after this, but probably their resurrected bodies ascended to Heaven.

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