Key Verse: Matthew 27:51
Matthew 27 is clearly one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Jesus is delivered over to the Romans to be executed. The crowds, given the choice between the notorious criminal Barabbas and Jesus called for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified. He was mocked, beaten and finally executed. Up to that point, the most extraordinary thing was simply how ordinary it all was: could the Messiah really die like so many others had before Him?
But there were clues that the death of Jesus was different. He did not defend Himself before Pilate, the sun turned dark as He hung on the cross and He even prayed for the ones killing Him. Death is the most ordinary thing a human being can do - the mortality rate is 100% - but there was something extraordinary about how Jesus did it. Something was going on behind the scenes: His cry about His Father forsaking Him was enough to show that. But what? When Jesus died, a much bigger clue was given. Before the holiest part of the Temple (the Holy of Holies), where God showed His glory and where the ark of the covenant sat, was a special curtain which only the High Priest could enter, and only once a year. When Jesus died, there was a great earthquake, and the that curtain tore from the top to the bottom. God sent a divine sign that Jesus’ death was the sacrifice that tore down the barrier between us and Him, giving us access to the presence of God through the Son.
Incredibly, Jesus passing through death prepared the way for us to enter into life. He broke down the barriers of sin that kept us away from God, and gave us the opportunity to access God. When He rose again, a representative group of saints rose too leaving their tombs that had been broken open in the earthquake. The door is opened by His death, and His eternal life gives us the power to walk through.
Discussion idea: Have you ever wanted to go somewhere that you could not? What does it mean to have a friend on the inside? What do we gain by gaining access to God in Christ?
Prayer focus: Pray for comfort for those mourning loved ones, and for a renewed passion to share the one way to God.