By Mark Molina
This weekend is Easter. On Sunday, in an effort to fulfill a religious obligation, many people will be returning to church for the first time since Christmas. Going to church on those two holidays can seem to ease the conscience. Of course in the churches that spend more time honoring the Easter Bunny than Christ it’s no wonder that this type of visitation is tolerable for the unbelieving.
I guess I am more of a Puritan when it comes to honoring and establishing the sanctity of Christ above all of the cultural traditions of the day and age in which we live. He is, after all, the “Reason for the Season.”
On Thursday we commemorated the Last Supper or Passover Supper that Jesus celebrated with His disciples. Good Friday (good for us but not for Him!) is when Christ was scourged, beaten, put on public trial, rejected by His own people and crucified on the cross. He hung there for six hours to die for the sins of the world.
Then what happened? Was it some benign death? Just one more person being crucified? After all it’s not like crucifixion was something new. Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, also called The Place of Skull. This is where the Roman Government carried out all of the public crucifixions of criminals. The people were accustomed to watching these happen in this place.
This crucifixion was far from business as usual. Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is where the resurrection power and story really begins. For some reason, this part never seems to make it to the pulpits on Sunday. Maybe because it is so hard for our finite minds to comprehend so it’s easier to move away from it.
“And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split. [Exod. 26:31-35.] The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep in death were raised [to life]; And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus observed the earthquake and all that was happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, Truly this was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:50-54 AMP)
“Truly this was God’s son!” This is the response of those who witnessed His death! Why? Because immediately at the moment of His death “the earth shook and the rocks were split” indicating the completion of a spiritual exchange. When is the last time this happened when someone died? People have died because of these kinds of circumstances. They are called earthquakes! This is the only time in recorded history that one person’s death actually caused an earthquake!
The vail in the temple separating the Holy place from the Most Holy place was torn in two. The vail that represented the separation between God and Man was removed forever. Jesus’ shed blood was the perfect, final sacrifice for sin!
“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the boulder back and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his garments as white as snow. And those keeping guard were so frightened at the sight of him that they were agitated and they trembled and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:2-4 AMP)
Jesus’ death ended with an earthquake and his resurrection began with an earthquake. An earthquake marked the spiritual transfer in his death and one marked the spiritual transfer on his resurrection of life. The first time the people became, “…terribly frightened and filled with awe.” The second time “they trembled and became like dead men.”
On this Resurrection Sunday will we have this same type of reverence for Christ? Will we respond with awe and tremble before His Holiness? Or will this just be another casual observation? Indeed may we proclaim, “Truly this was the Son of God!”