By Steve Horn
Five miracles happened as Jesus hung on the cross. The day became night, symbolizing Jesus taking the sin of history upon Himself. Next, the temple veil was split from top to bottom, symbolizing a new covenant of salvation available and accessible to all. Today, we examine the third miracle. Matthew reported an earthquake. I believe that this “splitting of the rocks” points back to a statement Jesus made to the Pharisees as He was welcomed into Jerusalem on the Sunday before that Friday.
Luke provides the details of the entry into Jerusalem as recorded in Luke 19:
“And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”
When we collaborate the accounts from Matthew and Luke, we find an interesting detail. “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” At the cross, we find the disciples at their worst. I remind you that it is not just Judas that betrayed Jesus. Likewise, it is not just Peter that denied Jesus. In one way or the other, is it not true that all of the disciples deserted Jesus? Is it not true that the “these” of Luke 19:40 did in fact become silent? So, what was the response? Matthew tells us that the stones cried out!
I give you as a hypothesis that the earthquake and the splitting of the rocks were the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 19. If this hypothesis is correct, then we have some certain conclusions from the earthquake.
First, the earthquake establishes that Jesus is worthy to be praised. The precise reason that He is worthy to be praised was established at the cross.
Second, the earthquake establishes that Jesus will be praised. The fulfillment of this prophecy makes clear that Jesus will always be praised. The whole world may fall silent, but His name will be praised forever.
So, what’s the reason for our silence? Why do we not always praise Him as we should? Some fail to see the significance of the cross. Do you really realize that would it not be for the cross, all of us would be stuck in our sin and bound for Hell? But, because of what Christ did, we are forgiven of sin, have the ability to be free of sin, and are on our way to Heaven at the exact moment of our death. That alone should keep us praising Him every moment of our lives.
Others are limited in their praise because they focus on what is seen rather than on that which is not seen. Here is the problem of the disciples. The disciples could only see Jesus’ death. They could only see the cross. They hadn’t understood Jesus’ words that He would only be three days in the grave. They could only see with human eyes. We do the same. We get distressed by our problems and forget that God is working all things together for our good.
So how should we praise Him? We should praise Him with our lips, of course, but do not forget, we should also praise Him with our lives.
Steve Horn is pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette and a past president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. This editorial first appeared on Horn’s blog. Horn will explore the final two miracles on his blog in future posts before Easter Sunday.