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October 8 - Evening

"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." - Matthew 27:50-53

The Unique Death of Jesus and the Astounding Results


In Jesus’ final moments on the cross Matthew says Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit. This final “cried out” most likely correlates with John 19:30 where John records Jesus shouting out a triumphant death cry, “It is finished!” Jesus' full possession of his senses and his energy is contrary to normal crucifixion victims who faded into death in weakness and exhaustion. It is clear that Jesus' death was a voluntary relinquishing of his life as he said it would be in John 10:17-18:
                “No one takes if from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”

Several commentators point out that the writers of the Gospels, including Matthew, do not use any of the usual methods to say Jesus died. They all describe Jesus’ death in a way that is unique. Matthew says, “He gave up his spirit (pneuma),” which is to say, “He gave up his breath,” as does Mark and Luke who use the Greek verb exepneusen which means, “expired” or “breathed his last” (Luke 23:46; Mark 15:37). John says paredoken to pneuma, or “delivered up his spirit” (John 10:18) which fits with the prophecy of Psalm 31:5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Notice that all of these quotes concern Jesus’ pneuma, or spirit/breath. There is no way the writers are referring to the Holy Spirit of God. The point they are all making is Jesus gave up his breath (or his spirit, or his life), and so, he died.
After describing this amazing, unique death the next word Matthew uses in the Greek (which is translated in the NIV as, “At that moment”) is the words, kai idou, which mean, “And look!” or “Behold.” Idou is used throughout the book of Matthew to indicate that something extraordinary and unexpected took place. And, Matthew does not disappoint us here with his use of “idou!” because some of the strangest and most difficult verses to explain and verify in the New Testament follow!
1. "The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” – This curtain was made of 72 braids each individually made up of 24 threads twisted together to make a curtain thirty feet wide. This curtain was suddenly shred in two pieces, but the tear began at the top of this sixty foot high curtain and ripped it top to bottom. According to Josephus this curtain hung in front of two gold plated wooden doors of the same height. In Jewish writings about this exact year, 30 AD, forty years before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews record such strange things as the following quote from Yoma 39b in the Talmud: “Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple … the doors of the Temple would open by themselves.” Jewish commentators said, “They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open.” In those days many Jews understood this as a sign that the time for the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in Zechariah 11:1 was near: “Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedars! The teachers of the Law and the scribes understood this verse from Zechariah to be a prophecy of a day in the future when the Temple would once again be burned. The reference to “Lebanon” was understood to refer to the Temple and the “cedars” were the wooden paneled walls made for the cedar wood taken from the forest of Lebanon. (see Psalm 74:4-5 and 1 Kings 7:1). The tearing of the curtain could have served as a sign of: 1) coming judgment of 70 AD; 2) the Temple was no longer needed; 3) the way to God was opened as in Hebrews 6:19; 10:19-20; 4) the presence of God had left as in Ezekiel 10; 5) God’s divine presence and revelation had now left the heavenlies and been revealed to mankind.
2. “The earth shook” – most likely an earthquake which when accompanied with darkness, which had began three hours earlier at 12:00, as in Amos 8:8-10 served as a sign of great spiritual significance and judgment. Around 30 AD an earthquake damaged the Temple as recorded by Josephus and Jerome.
  1. “the rocks split” – Matthew uses the same verb that is translated “split” concerning the rocks as is translated “torn” concerning the curtain.
  2. “the tombs broke open” – it appears that the tombs broke open during the shaking of the earth or the earthquake that may have resulted in the tearing of the Temple curtain and the splitting of the rocks recorded by Matthew, and also, the damage to the Temple as recorded by Josephus, Jerome and the Talmud.
3.  “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” – we do not have as many details here as we would like, but this is speaking of a physical resurrection of bodies of holy people, not a mere spiritual appearance of men like Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. The holy people could be pious Jews from history or it could be people of the contemporary time that had died more recently.
  1. “They came out of the tombs” -  in order to maintain orthodox theology that matches the rest of the New Testament, it would seem necessary that they came out of the tombs not when the rocks were split at Jesus death, but instead came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection. (1 Cor. 15:20-23; 1 Thes. 4:14)
  2. “after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city” -  there will be a second earthquake at the time of Jesus’ resurrection according to Matthew 28:2.
  3. “appeared to many people” – again, we are left hanging with many questions: Who saw these resurrected saints? What did they say? Did they talk about the underworld in Hades? How long did they continue on earth? Did they vanish after forty days when Jesus ascended into heaven and “led captivity captive?” Surely, they didn’t die again?
Even though there are many details we would like to understand and confirming reports from other sources we would like to access, we must know that Matthew’s point for writing these verses was to tell us two basic principles:
  1. Jesus’ death was unique and unlike any other death in history
  2. The results of Jesus death and resurrection were astounding and more than worthy of the introductory word “idou!”
Angelos (Gr) -  Angel (Eng) - the Greek word angelos is transliterated into English as angel. The Greek definition of angelos goes back to the days of Homer in 700 BC means simply "a messenger." In the New Testament the messengers sent from God are called just that "a messenger," or an angelos. Of course, the angelos from God had supernatural characteristics which narrowed the definition of the English word transliterated as angels. 
Access "
Robertson's Word Pictures" Greek Word Study/Commentary HERE.
Do I understand that the death and resurrection of Jesus has altered history?
Do I realize that the power and effect of Jesus death and resurrection can personally alter my life?
I will allow the knowledge and power of Jesus death and resurrection to change me!



Bible Reading Descriptions Here

Narrative

(morning only)

Complete Text

General Text




Personal

Changed to be like Jesus

Church

Avoid compromise
President's administration
Puerto Rico - 45% poverty; 62% high school dropout rate;
HIV, drug addiction



Inside the Double Gate on the south side of the Jewish Temple Mount. Looking north towards the stairwell that leads to the surface of the Temple Mount and the courts of the New Testament Temple where Jesus turned the tables. (click on image for larger size)
Cut away view of Solomon's Temple.
(click on image for larger size)



Someone to Quote

"When we hear, 'Your faith has saved you,' we do not understand him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever will be saved. For works must follow." – Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD)

Something to Ponder

In 1455 Johannes Gutenberg  and cooperating printers produced  200 copies of the Latin Vulgate Bible on the first printing presses. It took 3 years to print the 1,284 page two volume set. Forty-eight copies still exist.

Here’s a Fact

The book of Deuteronomy perfectly corresponds in form with the treaties or covenants of 1440 BC when Israel left Egypt to meet God on Mount Sinai.
Meredith G. Kline says, Deuteronomy "exhibits the structure of the ancient suzerainty treaties in the unity and completeness of their classic pattern."

Proverb

"As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him."
Proverbs 10:26

Coach’s Corner

When you are tired and weak remember Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

Acts 4
New International Version (NIV)
Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,     which has become the cornerstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
The Believers Pray
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage     and the peoples plot in vain?
26 
The kings of the earth rise up     and the rulers band together against the Lord     and against his anointed one.’
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Matthew 12:1-21
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
God’s Chosen Servant
15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,     the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him,     and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 
He will not quarrel or cry out;     no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 
A bruised reed he will not break,     and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.
21 
    In his name the nations will put their hope.”

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