Crucifixion Signs and Wonders: Matthew 27:47-54
“47) And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48) Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49) But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51) And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52) The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53) and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54) Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭27‬:‭47‬-‭54‬
God is an original. He always writes His own script. The bystanders taunted Him to come down from the cross and save Himself. Jesus had another mission in mind. He focused on saving humanity.
At the point of His death, many signs and wonders happened in rapid succession. These were extraordinary events to underline the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Darkness had already covered the land in mid day. That got everyone’s attention. Everyone in Jerusalem was exposed to this mid day darkness. Wonder escaped none.
The moment Jesus gave up His spirit, Matthew records four more phenomena. First, the thick veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. It was approximately a hand breath thick. The dividing wall between God and man was rent in two signifying that Jesus opened a new and living way to God. The order of a new High Priesthood was inaugurated. (Read to book of Hebrews)
Second, the earth shook. There was no mention how intense this was, how long it lasted or the extent. It seems clear from the text that Golgotha was the epicenter. This was experienced by everyone at the crucifixion site.
Third, rocks were split. One of the roles of Christ is to hold all things together. (Colossians 1:17) Theologians refer to Him as the “Sustainer.” He holds the universe and the laws of physics together. When the Sustainer died, the natural realm protested. Creation itself groaned. (See Romans 8:20-23) We can conclude once again that the religious leaders were dumber than rocks! The rocks were protesting while the religious leaders were celebrating.
Finally, Matthew makes mention that tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints were raised from the dead. They entered Jerusalem and appeared to many. Matthew was the only Gospel writer to record this event. Notice it happened only to the saints and they may have carried out a brief mission. I dare not speculate more about this event because of lack of historical data, but I am confident their testimony had a huge impact to punctuate the gospel message.
The affect on the centurion and the soldiers standing guard was astounding. They became frightened and said; “Truly this was the Son of God.” I am not sure if their confession resulted in salvation, but the seeds of the gospel were deeply planted within them.
Interestingly, Paul makes mention in Philippians 1:12-13 that the gospel made inroads throughout the whole praetorian guard. It appears that many did indeed become believers. The events of the crucifixion and resurrection and the subsequent spread of the gospel was a central topic of conversation among these soldiers.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global