Saturday, April 04, 2020

“Surely He Was the Son of God!” [Matt's Messages]

“Surely He Was the Son of God!”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
April 5, 2020 :: Matthew 27:51-66

While you may be watching this video on Palm Sunday 2020, we have gotten pretty far past Palm Sunday in our study of the Gospel of Matthew.

In our study of the Gospel of Matthew, we are on Good Friday, and the Lord Jesus has just died on the Cross.

Matthew 27, verse 50 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”

Our regal King relinquished His life, though not His sovereignty, and died.

The rest of the chapter is about what happened next.

For the last several months as we’ve followed Jesus through the few chapters of Matthew, I’ve said again and again, “It just gets worse. It just worse.”

As Jesus was betrayed, arrested, bound, deserted, tried, denied, beaten, spitted upon, slapped, toyed with, condemned, shouted at, scourged, stripped, mocked, struck,  crucified, and forsaken.

But then Jesus died.

And it no longer gets worse.

In fact, it immediately gets better!

Some amazingly spectacular things happened at that exact moment.

And not the least of them was what the Roman centurion who was there said about Who Jesus is.

How many times in the Gospel of Matthew have we said, “Keep your eye on the ball?!”

And the ball in the Gospel of Matthew is the identity of Jesus.

Who is Jesus?

Do you remember what the title of last week’s message was?

It was the question that Satan had thrown at Jesus in at His temptation in the wilderness.

It was the insult that Jesus’ enemies and the bystanders and even the criminals next to were hurling at Him as He died.

“If You Are the Son of God...” they said.

“If You Are the Son of God...”

Throwing His identity into question.

Well, here is the climax at the end of the book where the Roman centurion and the guards with Him, can’t help by give the right answer:

Look at what they say in verse 54.

“Surely He Was the Son of God!”

The Greek word translated “surely” is alaythos and it means “truly, certainly, must assuredly.”

Guaranteed, Jesus was the Son of God.

Now, let’s see what led them to this conclusion.

Everybody has been amazed that Jesus did not protest. He did not open His mouth.

He has such a regal bearing.

And we saw in verse 45 that a thick darkness covered the land as He was suffering.

But look what happened when Jesus died! Verse 51.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.”

Wow! Seismic upheaval.

The world can’t stay the same when the Son of God has died.

I have four things I want to show you that Jesus is doing as the Son of God even as He has died.

And for each of those things I have motion to give you to help you remember how to apply it to your life.

Here’s the first one.

Truly He Was the Son of God:


To God.

We don’t realize just how big that curtain was in the temple.

The Jewish Mishnah says that it was 60 feet long and 30 feet wide and as thick as a man’s palm.

And they say it took 300 men to put it in place.

Where was that place?

It hung in front of the Holy of Holies and it restricted access to the visible representation of the throne of God.

Only the high priest was allowed to go beyond that curtain and only once a year.

But when Jesus died, God ripped that curtain in two from top to bottom.

And that symbolized judgment, I’m sure.

The rending of Jesus’ flesh.
The coming destruction of the whole temple.
But I’m also sure it symbolized access to God.

Here’s the first motion of application:


Because Jesus died we now have access to God.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

He is the fulfillment of the sacrificial system.

We don’t need the blood of bulls and goats any more because of His perfect sacrifice.


I’m sure that’s what the writer to the Hebrews meant when he wrote:

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22a).


You can now come to God.

You don’t have to wait.

Jesus has made a way in His death!

He’s dead here! And He’s still opening up access to God!

If you have never come to God, now you can.

And if you haven’t been coming to God, now you should.

Are you taking advantage of the access you have to God?

During these days of stress and strain in our world, are we praying?

Jesus has made a way to the Father. Are we using it?


Jesus’ death is an invitation to come to God and to keep coming to God.

But the Most Holy Place was not the only thing Jesus opened up. He also opened up some graves.

That was some earthquake! Look at verse 52.

“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 is the only person in the Bible that tells us this part of the story.

And it raise so many questions!

That Matthew then doesn’t answer.

My sense is that the tombs opened during this earthquake, but it was when Jesus came back to life that these other believers came back to life. I don’t think they were waiting from the moment of His death to His resurrection to make their appearance.

And I have so many questions. Like were these few people like Lazarus who had to die again or were they like we will be when Jesus returns and we get our resurrected bodies and then were translated like Enoch or Elijah to go to glory?

Matthew doesn’t tell us!

What He is telling us is that Jesus surely was the Son of God because through His death and resurrection, He was:


In His death, Jesus was canceling death!

I always get hung up on the unanswered questions of verses 52 and 53.

And what I miss that these people came back to life!

And they prove that Jesus is the firstborn from the dead.

And the firstfruits of the resurrection.

And the point to the future that all believers can expect.

Here’s our second motion for application:


Because what these people experienced is what we will experience because Jesus truly is the Son of God.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for the resurrection.

One of my favorite professors from seminary likes to say, “I’m not suffering from anything that a good resurrection can’t fix.”

And that’s true of everything that is wrong with our world right now.

So HOPE. Because there is a new world coming, right around the corner.

The centurion and the guards saw the darkness, saw how Jesus died, felt the earthquake, so bad the rocks were the splitting. V.54

“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’”

Now, I’m sure they didn’t understand half of what that meant.

But, regardless, it’s amazing that they said what they said.

Here was a Gentile.
Here was a Roman oppressor.
Here was an executioner!

And He sees what chief priests and the elders and the teachers of the law had all missed.

“Surely he was the Son of God!”

That’s right.

This was no ordinary person.

This person was extraordinary.

This person was no mere mortal.

He was mortal! He just died.

But He was no mere mortal.

He was certainly the Son of God.

Look at verse 55.

“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.”

Remember these women. They are faithful.

The followers of Jesus who are women in the Gospel of Matthew are nearly all exemplary.

These women had followed Jesus and were taking care of Him.

And apparently they didn’t run off.

Remember them, though ignored by many, they will be important in this story.

Verse 57. “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.”

Stop there for a second. Let’s make this the third point.

Most certainly, Jesus was the Son of God as He is here:


The women are revealed as His faithful followers.

And so is Joseph.

The other gospels tell us that he was a member of the Sanhedrin but had not consented to Jesus’ conviction and condemnation.

In fact, Joseph was as secret follower of Jesus.

But now the secret is out!

Joseph gets bold and courageous and comes out a follower of Christ. V.58

“Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.”

This, too, is amazing. We don’t realize it.

But most crucified criminals would just hang there for the birds or their bodies thrown into ditch.

Joseph risks being associated with Jesus, asks for His body, and gets it.

Here’s our motion for this one.


Follow Jesus as His disciple.

Don’t be afraid to be known as a disciple of Jesus.

That’s been our application of this book again and again and again.

What is Jesus calling you to do this week as His follower?

It might not be easy.

But He is the Son of God!

So we can do what He says.

Joseph gives Jesus what amounts to a royal burial. Verse 59.

“Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.”

Joseph was a rich man, and Jesus got a rich burial.

He had a new tomb that had a rectangular box cut out of it. Very expensive to have one of those.

And he buried Jesus in it.

Jesus, who was surely the Son of God, here:


Fulfilling Scripture.

What scripture?

Remember Isaiah 53, verse 9?

After that part about being pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities it says, Isaiah predicted that “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”

That was written more than 700 years before Jesus was born!

Buried with the rich in His death.

Jesus is keeping His promises.

And He’s made another promise, hasn’t He?

The Pharisees have not forgotten.

Verse 61

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. [Remember that for next week. They know exactly where this is.] The next day, the one after Preparation Day [the Sabbath], the chief priests and the Pharisees went to [the Roman Governor] Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'

So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’

‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

Years ago, I heard a dynamic preacher say, “A setback is a set-up for comeback.”

What could be a greater setback than being dead and buried?

Jesus is getting ready for the greatest comeback in history!

And He’s just keeping His promise.

Here’s our fourth and last motion of application.


Because nothing is going to stop Jesus from keeping all of His promises.

Nothing and nobody.

No big stone.
No seal.
No guard.

Nothing is going to keep Him down!

Recently, I’ve been listening to the music of Jesse and Leah Roberts called the Golgotha Experience, and the hauntingly beautiful last song is about Jesus’ burial.

Here are the words:

Go on brothers lay Him down
Go on brothers lay Him down
Wrap His body with a clean white shroud 
Roll that stone leave Him in the ground
Go on brothers lay Him down

Go on sisters cry for Him
Go on sisters cry for Him
But wipe your eyes and dry your skin
The crying will be done in three mornings
Go on sisters cry for Him

Hold on children wait and see
Hold on children wait and see
The death that’s come is a death too weak
Can’t take my Jesus cannot take my King
So hold on children wait and see

Oh Glory Glory won’t you come for me
Glory Glory won’t you come for me
I know your slumber is a momentary sleep
I feel you rising up from the deep
Oh Glory Glory you will come for me


Because surely Jesus was and is the Son of God!

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"
73. "He Is Worthy"
74. Disowned and Condemned
75. Jesus Stood Before the Governor
76. A Crown of Thorns
77. "If You Are The Son of God"