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Matthew 27:41-52 BLB-HFBC

Matthew 27:38-54 BLB Study Guide

6. (Mat 27:38-44) Jesus is mocked on the cross.

38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads40 and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

a. Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left: In His crucifixion, Jesus stood right in the center of sinful humanity. With the mockery of the criminals, the rejection of Jesus by His people is complete. Even criminals rejected Him.

i. "The Jews placed him between these two, perhaps to intimate that he was the worst felon of the three." (Clarke)

ii. One of these robbers repented and trusted in Jesus, and one did not (Luke 23:39-43).

b. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads: In the midst of His staggering display of love, Jesus was not honored. Instead, He was blasphemed and His enemies sneered, saying, "Save Yourself. If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

i. "Nothing torments a man when in pain more than mockery. When Jesus Christ most wanted words of pity and looks of kindness, they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads." (Spurgeon)

ii. Significantly, they mocked Jesus for who He really was and is.

- They mocked Him as a Savior

- They mocked Him as a King

- They mocked Him as a believer who trusted in God

- They mocked Him as the Son of God

iii. They acted as if Jesus did what they said, they would believe Him. Yet it is precisely because He did not save Himself that He can save others. Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails! Jesus did greater than come down from the cross; He rose from the dead, yet they did not believe even then.

iv. Jesus also showed us how we should regard the scorn and mocking of this world - that is, to not regard it at all. "Scorn! Let us scorn scorn. Does the world laugh at us? Let us laugh at the world's laughter, and say to it, 'Dost thou despise us? It is not one half as much as we despise thee. Our fathers despised thy sword, O world, thy dungeons, thy racks, thy gibbets, thy stakes, and dost thou think that we shall tremble at thy scoffs, and jeers?'" (Spurgeon)

c. Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing: There were many low points to Jesus' ordeal on the cross, but this is surely one of the lowest. Even among the three crucified men, Jesus was put in the "lowest" position.

i. This was the peak of God's love for man: to endure this for our salvation. But it was also the summit of man's hatred for God; God came to earth, and this is what man did to Him.

ii. Jesus had to suffer this alone, outside the gate. He was cut off from the community; both so we could be joined to His community, and also so that our experiences of isolation can be redeemed and made into opportunities of fellowship with Him.

D. The death of Jesus.

1. (Mat 27:45) An unusual darkness on the land.

45 Now from the sixth hour[a] there was darkness over all the land[b] until the ninth hour.[c]

a. Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour: From the Roman reckoning of time, this was approximately from 12:00 noon until 3:00 in the afternoon. This unusual darkness lasted for some three hours, much longer than any natural eclipse.

i. This was not the entire time Jesus was on the cross, but the later part of that time. According to Mark 15:25 and 15:34, we can surmise that Jesus hung on the cross for about 6 hours (approximately between 9:00 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon).

ii. The first three hours of Jesus' ordeal on the cross were in normal daylight, so that all could see that it was in fact Jesus on the cross, and not a replacement or an impostor.

iii. This darkness was especially remarkable because it happened during a full moon - during which time Passover was always held - and during a full moon it is impossible that there be a natural eclipse of the sun.

b. There was darkness over all the land: The remarkable darkness all over the earth showed the agony of creation itself in the Creator's suffering.

i. "The darkness is the symbol of the wrath of God which fell on those who slew his only begotten Son. God was angry, and his frown removed the light of day ... The symbol also tells us what our Lord Jesus Christ endured. The darkness outside of him was the figure of the darkness that was within him. In Gethsemane a thick darkness fell upon our Lord's spirit." (Spurgeon)

ii. There was contemporary evidence for this unusual darkness. "Origen (Contra Celsus, ii,33) and Eusebius (Chron.) quoted words from Phlegon (a Roman historian) in which he made mention of an extraordinary solar eclipse as well as of an earthquake about the time of the crucifixion." (Geldenhuys in his commentary on Luke)

iii. Phlegon, Roman historian wrote: "In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was an extraordinary eclipse of the sun: at the sixth hour, the day turned into dark night, so that the stars in heaven were seen; and there was an earthquake." (Cited in Clarke)

2. (Mat 27:46-49) Jesus cries out to the Father in agony.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, "This man is calling Elijah." 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him."

a. My God, My God: In quoting Psalm 22, Jesus declared His fulfillment of that prophecy, in both its agony and in its exultation. The Psalm continues to say, You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You (Psalm 22:21b-22).

i. "The probability is that Jesus spoke in Hebrew. It is no argument against this that the spectators might not understand what He said, for the utterance was not meant for the ears of men." (Bruce)

ii. "Cried (anaboao, used only here in the New Testament) is a strong verb indicating powerful emotion or appeal to God." (France)

iii. "This is, remarkably, the only time in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus addressed God without calling him 'Father'." (France)

b. Why have You forsaken Me? Jesus had known great pain and suffering (both physical and emotional) during His life. Yet He had never known separation from His Father. At this moment He experienced what He had not yet ever experienced. There was a significant sense in which Jesus rightly felt forsaken by the Father at this moment.

i. "His one moan is concerning his God. It is not, 'Why has Peter forsaken me? Why has Judas betrayed me?' These were sharp griefs, but this is the sharpest. This stroke has cut him to the quick." (Spurgeon)

ii. At this moment, a holy transaction took place. God the Father regarded God the Son as if He were a sinner. As the Apostle Paul would later write, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

iii. Yet Jesus not only endured the withdrawal of the Father's fellowship, but also the actual outpouring of the Father's wrath upon Him as a substitute for sinful humanity.

iv. Horrible as this was, it fulfilled God's good and loving plan of redemption. Therefore Isaiah could say Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10).

v. At the same time, we cannot say that the separation between the Father and the Son at the cross was complete. Paul made this clear in 2 Corinthians 5:19: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself at the cross.

vi. "I even venture to say that, if it had been possible for God's love towards his Son to be increased, he would have delighted in him more when he was standing as the suffering Representative of his chosen people than ever he had delighted in him before." (Spurgeon)

c. Why have You forsaken Me? The agony of this cry is significant. It rarely grieves man to be separated from God, or to consider that he is a worthy object of God's wrath. Yet this was the true agony of Jesus on the cross. At some point before He died, before the veil was torn in two, before He cried out it is finished, an awesome spiritual transaction took place. God the Father laid upon God the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and He bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.

i. As horrible as the physical suffering of Jesus was, this spiritual suffering - the act of being judged for sin in our place - was what Jesus really dreaded about the cross. This was the cup - the cup of God's righteous wrath - that He trembled at drinking (Luke 22:39-46, Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15). On the cross, Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father's fury. He did it so we would not have to drink that cup.

ii. Isaiah 53:3-5 puts it powerfully: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

iii. "His Father now dried up that sacred stream of peaceful communion and loving fellowship which had flowed hitherto throughout his whole earthly life ... We lose but drops when we lose our joyful experience of heavenly fellowship; and yet the loss is killing: but to our Lord Jesus Christ the sea was dried up - I mean his sea of fellowship with the infinite God." (Spurgeon)

iv. We can imagine the answer to Jesus' question: Why? "Because My Son, You have chosen to stand in the place of guilty sinners. You, who have never known sin, have made the infinite sacrifice to become sin and receive My just wrath upon sin and sinners. You do this because of Your great love, and because of My great love." Then the Father might give the Son a glimpse of His reward - the righteously-robed multitude of His people on heaven's golden streets, "all of them singing their redeemer's praise, all of them chanting the name of Jehovah and the Lamb; and this was a part of the answer to his question." (Spurgeon)

v. Knowing this agony of the Son of God on the cross should affect how we see sin: "O sirs, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? - If I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother's heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it?" (Spurgeon)

d. This man is calling for Elijah: Sadly, Jesus was misunderstood and mocked until the bitter end. These observers thought it was all an interesting test case to see if Elijah would actually come.

i. As Jesus hung on the cross, His listeners misunderstood Him by taking the part for the whole. He said, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" Not only did they get wrong what they heard (Jesus said, "Eloi" not "Elijah"), but they also only heard one word of what He said. This will not do for the true follower of Jesus; we hear not only one word from Jesus, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

ii. One of the first things we know about Jesus was that He was misunderstood. When Joseph and Mary left Him behind at Jerusalem, they didn't understand that He had to be about His Father's business. Now at the end of His earthly ministry, He is also misunderstood on the cross.

iii. Jesus knew what it was to have His motives misunderstood. He healed people, and others said He did it by the devil. He reached out to sinners and people called Him a drunken pig. The followers of Jesus also sometimes have their motives misunderstood.

iv. Jesus knew what it was to have His words misunderstood. He said, "destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again," no doubt motioning towards His own body as He said it. Still, people insisted that He spoke of the literal temple in Jerusalem. Another time He knew Lazarus was dead and He told others that Lazarus was sleeping. They misunderstood Jesus and thought He meant Lazarus was getting much needed rest. The followers of Jesus sometimes have their words misunderstood.

v. Jesus knew what it was to have His silence misunderstood. When He first appeared before Pilate, Pilate sent Him off to Herod. When Herod questioned Jesus, He didn't say a word. Herod misunderstood the silence of Jesus and saw it as weakness and powerlessness. Herod was blind to the power and dignity in the silence of Jesus. The followers of Jesus also sometimes have their silence misunderstood.

3. (Mat 27:50) The death of Jesus.

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

a. Jesus cried out again with a loud voice: Most victims of crucifixion spent their last hours in complete exhaustion or unconsciousness before death. Jesus was not like this; though tremendously tortured and weakened, He was conscious and able to speak right up to the moment of His death.

i. "The Fathers found in the loud cry a proof that Jesus died voluntarily, not from physical exhaustion. Some modern commentators, on the contrary, regard the cry as the utterance as one dying of a ruptured heart." (Bruce)

ii. John 19:30 tells us that Jesus said, "it is finished," which is one word in the ancient Greek - tetelestai, which means, "paid in full." This was the cry of a winner, because Jesus fully paid the debt of sin we owed, and finished the eternal purpose of the cross.

b. And yielded up His spirit: No one took Jesus' life from Him. Jesus, in a manner unlike any other man, yielded up His spirit. Death had no righteous hold over the sinless Son of God. He stood in the place of sinners, but never was or became a sinner Himself. Therefore He could not die unless He yielded up His spirit.

i. As Jesus said, I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10:17-18)

ii. "Every man, since the fall, has not only been liable to death, but has deserved it; as all have forfeited their lives because of sin. Jesus Christ, as born immaculate, and having never sinned, had not forfeited his life, and therefore may be considered as naturally and properly immortal." (Clarke)

iii. "He gave up his life because He willed it, when He willed it, and as He willed it." (Augustine)

4. (Mat 27:51-54) The immediate results of Jesus' death.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also 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 went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son[d] of God!"

a. The veil of the temple was torn in two: The veil was what separated the holy place from the most holy place in the temple. It was a vivid demonstration of the separation between God and man. Notably, the veil was torn from top to bottom, and it was God who did the tearing.

i. "As if shocked at the sacrilegious murder of her Lord, the temple rent her garments, like one stricken with horror at some stupendous crime." (Spurgeon)

ii. Acts 6:7 says that in the days of the early church, a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. Perhaps this torn veil demonstrated to them the greatness of the work of Jesus. It is also probably how the torn veil became common knowledge.

iii. "It is not a slight rent through which we may see a little; but it is rent from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, and rent from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage!" (Spurgeon)

b. The earth quaked, and the rocks were split: Nature itself was shaken by the death of the Son of God.

i. "Men's hearts did not respond to the agonizing cries of the dying Redeemer, but the rocks responded: the rocks were rent. He did not die for rocks; yet rocks were more tender than the hearts of men, for whom he shed his blood." (Spurgeon)

ii. There should probably be a break between the end of Matthew 27:51 and the start of Matthew 27:52. We aren't to suppose that the earthquake that happened and split rocks during the crucifixion also opened graves of some of the righteous dead; who waited in those open graves for three days until coming out of the graves after His resurrection. It is better to understand that Matthew intended us to see that the earthquake happened on the day Jesus was crucified. Then, on the day He was revealed as resurrected, the radiating power of new life was so great that it resuscitated some of the righteous dead.

c. Coming out of the graves after His resurrection: This is one of the strangest passages in the Gospel of Matthew. We don't know about this event from any other source, and Matthew doesn't tell us very much. So we really don't know what this was all about, but apparently these resuscitated saints died once again, because they were raised from the dead in the sense that Lazarus was - not to resurrection life, but to die again.

i. They were raised, "Not to converse again, as heretofore, with men, but to accompany Christ, that raised them, into heaven; and to be as so many ocular demonstrations of Christ's quickening power." (Trapp)

ii. "These first miracles wrought in connection with the death of Christ were typical of spiritual wonders that will be continued till he comes again - rocky hearts are rent, graves of sin are opened, those who have been dead in trespasses and sins, and buried in sepulchers of lust and evil, are quickened, and come out from among the dead, and go unto the holy city, the New Jerusalem." (Spurgeon)

d. Truly this was the Son of God! The scene at the crucifixion of Jesus was so striking that even a hardened Roman centurion confessed that this was the Son of God. This man had supervised the death of perhaps hundreds of other men by crucifixion, but he knew there was something absolutely unique about Jesus.

i. This was the Son of God: The only thing wrong is his verb tense; Jesus is the Son of God. The Roman centurion seemed to assume that He was no longer the Son of God.

ii. "There are that think that these soldiers, our Saviour's executioners, were truly converted by the miracles they had seen, according to what Christ had prayed for them, Luke 23:34." (Trapp)

HFBC:  Background: Matthew 27:33-66 - Lesson: Matthew 27:41-52

I.    Setting (33-38)

A.  Site "a place called Golgotha" (33) Two traditional sites are pointed out to pilgrims:  Gordon's Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

B.  Sedative "wine mixed with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it." (34) William Barclay (Matthew, vol. 2, p. 366) quotes a Jewish writing as saying, "When a man is going out to be killed, they allow him to drink a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine to deaden his senses. (Ps. 69:21) Wealthy women of Jerusalem used to contribute these things and bring them."  Having submitted to God's will (26:42), Jesus is willing to endure the full punishment for sin.

C.  Sentence "After crucifying Him..." (35) HCSB: p. 1669: 27:35 "Crucifixion was a horrifying and torturous means of execution.  Naked victims were tied or nailed (Jn 20:25) to a cross.  The victim might remain alive for days, and after death they were often consumed by dogs, carrion birds or insects.  Josephus described crucifixion as "the most wretched of all ways of dying" (War 7.5.4).  Cicero (106-43 B.C.) said that crucifixion so frightened Roman citizens that they refused to speak the word "cross."

D.  Speculation "they divided His clothes by casting lots. . ." (35) Jesus didn't own property (8:20); perhaps His only possession of value was His outer robe.  The prophecy is in Psalm 22:18.

E.  Sign "Above His head they put up the charge against Him in writing: This is Jesus The King of the Jews." (37) The Jewish leaders argued for a different charge (John 19:21) Pilate's last act of defiance was to place this placard.  Colossians 2:14 "He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross."  Just as Jesus had a written charge against Him, nailed to the cross; so, we have all accusation and charges against us, forgiven by His blood, nailed to His cross. (Hymn:  Jesus Paid It All) HCSB: p. 1669: 27:37 "A wooden placard called a titulus was often tied around the criminal's neck as he marched to death.  This sign announced the reason for his crucifixion.  When Jesus arrived at Golgotha, the placard was nailed over His head.  Although Roman crosses were sometimes shaped like X or T, the placement of the titulus on Jesus' cross shows that it was shaped like a lowercase "t."

F.  Sinners "Then two criminals were crucified with Him. . ." (38) Even in death, Jesus upheld His reputation of keeping company with sinners (9:10-13).  Luke records that one of the criminals turned in faith to Jesus (Luke 23:39-43) and would be in Paradise that night.

II.   Mocked (39-44)

"Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, "The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!" 41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, 42 "He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now-if He wants Him!  For He said, 'I am God's Son.'" 44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with Him kept taunting Him." (39-44)

A.  Mocking by the Passers-by - "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!" (40)  This is the same type of temptation faced by Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry (4:5-7)

B.  Mocking by the Priests "He saved others, but He cannot save Himself." (42)  The temptation was short-term satisfaction which sacrifices long-term objectives.  Jesus had the ability to come down from the cross and make a mighty display (26:53).  However, He made a prior decision to accomplish God's will (26:39).  Here is a sampling of Scripture's: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God's power to us who are being saved" (I Corinthians 1:18); "But as for me, I will never boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to Me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14); "He did this so that He night reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it." (Ephesians 2:16); "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death- even to death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted Him..." (Philippian 2:8-9); " making peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:20); " keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3) Mockers still are with us today (2 Peter 3:3).

III. Forsaken (45-49)

"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling for Elijah!" 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, "Let's see if Elijah comes to save Him!" (45-49)

A.  Darkness "darkness came over the whole land" (45) HCSB: p. 1669: 27:45 "The bystanders naturally interpreted the darkness as God's judgment (Am 8:9).  While they likely though the judgment was against Jesus (as if He were a heretic), in light of His later resurrection they came to see the darkness as judgment against the sin that Jesus became on our behalf (2 Co 5:21)."

B.  Despair "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" (46) At the point that "the One who did not know sin to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21), Holy God had to turn away.  We may take comfort in the fact that Jesus, even though He knew victory was inevitable, (Rev. 13:8) felt a terrible loneliness and abandonment.  At times our feelings may be at odds with what we know to be true. HCSB: p. 1669: 27:46 "Jesus' lament quotes Ps 22:1.  The psalm reads like it was written by someone standing near the cross (see especially Ps 22:7-8, 14-18).  Jesus' cry expressed the alienation from God that He endured as He bore the Father's wrath against sin.  Although Jesus elsewhere addressed God as "Father," He addressed Him merely as My God in this verse."

IV. Sacrificed (50-52)

      "Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised." (50-52)

A.  Jesus Triumph "And Jesus shouted again with a loud voice" (50) Throughout the narrative, Jesus is passive:  He was mocked, beaten and hung on a cross to die.  The crowd must have been shocked when He cried out with a loud voice: "Tetelestai" (John 19:30) Tetelestai was used in a commercial sense:  The debt has been paid or paid in full.  It was also written across a prisoner's sentence when it was served or commuted.  Barclay says, ". . . tetelestai is the victor's shout; it is the cry of the man who has completed his task; it is the cry of the man who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of the man who has come out of the dark into the glory of the light and who has grasped the crown.  So, then, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on His lips." (Matthew, vol. 2, pp. 369-370)

B.  Jesus' Testimony - several events that confirmed God's work:

1.   The Testimony of the Veil "the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom" (51) The veil could have been as much as six inches thick.  That it was torn from top to bottom was a reminder that God was at work tearing down barriers between Him and us. (Hebrews 6:19-20, 10:19-21; Eph. 2:14-15).  As it turns out, the charge against Jesus "I can demolish God's sanctuary. . ." (26:61), contained an element of truth.  By His death, Jesus ushered in the new covenant in which the temple was no longer needed. HCSB: p. 1670: 27:51 "Jesus' death at 3:00 p.m. coincided with the afternoon sacrifice.  Thus the priests were present in the temple to observe the rending of the curtain.  The curtain of the sanctuary separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.  According to the Mishnah, it was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and as thick as a man's palm.  It was so heavy that it took 300 men to lift it when it was wet (m. Shek. 8.5).  That it split in two from top to bottom shows that it was torn by God.  This signified that Jesus' death granted sinners new access to God (Heb. 6:19-20; 10:19-20)." 

2.   The Testimony of the Earthquakes "...the earth quaked and the rocks were split" (51).  Just as earthquakes would be a sign of His second coming (24:7), so the earth signaled the momentous sacrifice of His first coming.

3.   The Testimony of the Saints "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" (52) Again, this foreshadows the general resurrection of the saints and provides a foretaste for every believer of Christ's power over death. (I Cor. 15:12-19) 

4.   The Testimony of the Women (55-56) The bravery of these women to be present at the crucifixion cannot be overstated.  It's significant that the ones brave enough to witness His death were granted the privilege of first announcing His resurrection (John 20:18).