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, the rocks split Matthew 27:50-51 (NIV)
Murder: the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.
I used to think that Jesus Christ was murdered by an angry mob until I read Matthew 27 again for the millionth time.
Two things came to my mind about that whole situation. The second one first (in order to confuse you) was how traumatic the death of Jesus was. The curtain in the temple was sixty feet long and thirty feet wide! All woven of one piece and not a seam to be found it must have been a sight to behold.
‘The curtain’ served as the final division between man and God. Behind it was the holiest of all places, where God himself dwelt. The High priest was allowed behind the curtain once a year to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of his people and himself. The only way to God, essentially, was through the priest.
Just outside the temple, perhaps within view, a lonely hillside held three crosses and a small gathering of people who’d come to mourn, to celebrate or just to watch the show and jeer at the criminals hanging there.
When the guy in the middle died, the result was something like noone had ever seen. As he breathed his last there was a tremendous earthquake to add to the ominous dark sky. Rocks split in two from the force of the action.
Meanwhile inside the temple as the priests celebrated their victory over some itinerant preacher fromGalileethe temple shook and the curtain split in two from top to bottom! Can you imagine the reaction of those in the building! No one had ever seen the holiest of all places. Some may have covered their eyes in fear (as if dark skies at midday and earthquakes weren’t enough). Tradition says that he priests hastily tried to patch the curtain (wonder if they had duct tape back then?)
That action was extremely symbolic because now, because of Jesus, direct access to God was completed. The devout Jews continued to worship as though access to God was restricted. They continued to believe that the only way to truly learn from God was through a priest, a tradition that has lasted through the centuries. But Jesus’ death put an end to that. To say a priest or pastor or missionary is closer to God because of position is like saying you are closer to the planet Mars because you are taller than I?
Closeness to God isn’t because of position, it’s because of passion.
Then, there’s the issue of Jesus’ murder. As I read that passage again, I asked myself, is it murder when you willingly let someone kill you? After all, Jesus didn’t need to die that day. The same power that tore the curtain and split the rocks could have saved him at the bat of an eyelash.
So, I looked up the definition of murder. Murder is, according to Webster, a crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.
Was Jesus murdered? According to Webster he was. He meets the qualifications. Jesus was innocent of all charges, yet he died for your sin. Nothing you have done of ever will do could have gotten you through that curtain in theTemple. Nothing you can do will ever separate you from God’s forgiveness through Jesus.
Was his killing an act of planning and malice and cunning? Yes, although the priests thought their plan worked, the plan for Jesus to die was planned years earlier. They were simply pawns in God’s plan to finally bring us home, to tear that curtain in half.
Jesus was murdered by his own will so you can choose. He died so you could live. He conquered death so you could have eternal life.
PRAYER; Lord Jesus, once again I’m reminded of your sacrifice of love for me and the power you have to bring us to the Father. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for removing the curtain so I can find God. Amen.