Matthew 27 is a message about the suffering, the cross, and death of Jesus Christ. This message should always be foremost in our minds, we should never for one moment forget the price that was paid for our salvation. The sin problem was solved forever at the cross. It is no wonder that Paul stated that he would glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He could have gloried in his own accomplishments which were many, but he did not. He did not say he gloried in the virgin birth, though he believed it, nor did he say he gloried in the miracles of Christ, though he did affirm them but in the cross. Here is where the victory was won; here is where the power of death was defeated. Here at the cross is where my freedom, my liberty, my salvation was purchased. At the cross ambitions are laid aside. At the cross, prejudices are crucified, at the cross pride is humbled, at the cross is where individual personalities and desires and self-motivations disappear. There is where we experience the death of “I.”
In our minds when we go back to the other side of the Resurrection and walk with the disciples as they first learned about the cross we find a group of men sad, confused they could see nothing good about the cross to them it was defeat. They even lost hope in Jesus, (“We had hoped he had been the one.”)
They thought it was the end but the story didn’t end there. Matthew 28 begins with an empty tomb. It was early Sunday morning following the crucifixion that strange news came from some women who came saying they had been to the tomb and the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. They also said that they had talked with an angel that said he was alive. A new day had dawned, hope was reborn. Sorrow turned to joy.
The tragedy of the cross is reversed by the triumph of the resurrection. The disciples rushed to confirm this, now instead of fear and defeat, the disciples begin to proclaim the message “Christ is risen from the dead, thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now that is something to shout about, something to preach about. The Gospel message did not climax with the cross. The cross would have been in vain had there been no resurrection. In fact, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 listed a series of insurmountable problems that would confront Christians had there been no resurrection. First of all he says, preaching would be in vain because there would be nothing to preach about. Second, faith would be in vain because there would be nothing to believe in. Thirdly, the apostles would be false witnessed about God. Fourthly, if Christ be not raised, we are still in our sin. Fifthly, if there is no resurrection, the saints already dead are perished. Finally, if we have no hope beyond this life we are miserable, and we are to be pitied.
But praise God, there is something to preach about and the apostles full of power and victory went forth and preached “He’s alive!” “Now is Christ risen from the dead!” The sermon we read in Acts focuses on the resurrection. In Acts 2, Peter declared, “This Jesus,” leaving no doubt who he was talking about, further emphasized “This same Jesus whom you have crucified . . . God raised up, whereof we are witnesses.” In 5:30, he said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree.” Chapter 10:40, “Him who God raised up the third day, and showed him openly.”
The book of Revelation is about victorious saints being raised and going to heaven. The whole Bible is Good News because it centers upon a savior who lived, served, bled, and died for us, for our sins on a cross, and on the third day arose victorious over death. Now from this side of the cross, this side of the resurrection, the disciples can look back to the cross where before they had it as defeat and had thought it to be the end. They now rejoice because the disaster of the cross has turned to triumph. The cross is now seen as the altar where the eternal sacrifice was made.
Peter, who had rejected the thought of Jesus going to the cross, now writes, “For as much as ye know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these times for you, who by him do we believe in God, that raised him up from the dead and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
Thank God for that faith and hope we have in God today. Because He lives, we live. We now have the assurance that just as Christ was raised out of the grave never to die again, we will experience the same victory. By the power of God we will “tear the bars away” and come forth to live a fresh life under new conditions of heavenly immortality. Dottie Rambo wrote a song that stated, “This house of clay is but a prison, bars of bone hold my soul. But the doors of clay are going to burst wide open when the angels set my spirit free. I’ll take my flight like a mighty eagle when the hills of home start calling me.” Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
The majority of mankind is sleeping under the ground and the devil would like people to believe they shall always be in the grave, but not so. Jesus said, “Marvel not. For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
On that resurrection morning, the cemetery will be shaken, the dead shall stand erect when Jesus calls, physical corruption will yield to the transforming hand of God, our dishonored, sickly houses of death will give way to celestial power, and we shall be changed.
John said, “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” What a day that will be! I will have a new body, I will have a new life.