Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Easy English Bible
The Death of Jesus St. Matthew 27:45-54
(Psalm 22:1-31; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30)
v45 From the 6th hour to the 9th hour, there was darkness over the whole country.
v46 At about the 9th hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice. He said, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ This means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me alone?’
v47 Some of the people who stood there heard this. They said, ‘This man is calling Elijah.’
v48 Immediately, one of the people ran and got a sponge. He filled it with sour wine and he put it on a stick. Then he offered it to Jesus to drink.
v49 But other people said, ‘Wait. Let us see if Elijah will come to rescue him.’
v50 Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and he freed his spirit.
v51 The curtain in the temple split into two pieces from the top to the bottom. And the earth shook and the rocks split open.
v52 Graves opened and from them many dead bodies of God’s people came to life again.
v53 They came out of the graves. After Jesus came back to life, they went into the holy city. And many people saw them.
v54 The army officer and the soldiers who were guarding Jesus saw this earthquake. And they saw everything else that was happening. They were very afraid. They said, ‘He really was the Son of God.’
Easy English Bible Commentary
The Jewish day consisted of 12 hours. The start of the day was sunrise, which would be about 6 in the morning. The end of the day was at sunset. Therefore, the length of an hour varied at different times during the year. They had no clocks or watches. The writers of the Gospels estimated the times. Mark wrote that they crucified Jesus about the 3rd hour. That was at about 9 in the morning (Mark 15:25).
It was dark from about noon to about three in the afternoon. The light from the sun could not come through the darkness. That darkness was not natural. It could not have been because the moon was in front of the sun. At Passover time, there was a full moon.
(John wrote that Pilate brought Jesus out to the crowd at about the 6th hour. Probably John used the Roman day. To the Romans, the day started after midnight. So, that the 6th hour would have been about 6 in the morning (John 19:14)).
The Gospels record that Jesus spoke 7 times while he was on the cross. He spoke in the Hebrew language. So, many of the people would not have understood what he said.
(1) As they crucified him, he prayed to the Father. ‘Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).
(2) Jesus gave to John the responsibility to care for his mother, Mary (John 19:26-27).
(3) Jesus replied to one of the criminals (Luke 23:42-43).
(4) Jesus cried, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46).
(5) Jesus cried, ‘I need a drink’ (John 19:28)
(6) Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). (In other words, ‘it is complete,’ or, ‘it is the end.’)
(7) Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I place my spirit’ (Luke 23:46)
At about the 9th hour Jesus cried, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me alone?’ We cannot understand what that really meant. It must have been part of the process to deal with our sin. We read that Jesus did not have any sin. But God made him to be sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). God did that so that he could remove sin from us. Christ carried our sins in his body when he died on the cross. He did that, so that we can be dead to sin. Now we can live a life without blame. He accepted our punishment and he has healed us (1 Peter 2:24).
In the language that Jesus used, ‘Eli’ would sound similar to ‘Elijah.’ Some of the people thought that Jesus called for Elijah to come. Jesus cried out, ‘I need a drink.’ Someone brought some sour wine for Jesus to drink. He put the wine on a sponge. A sponge is a natural material that takes in liquids. But the people stopped him. They thought that the prophet Elijah may come.
Jesus did not die because of what people did to him. He had said that he had authority to give his life. And he had power to take it again. Nobody could take his life from him. He would make his own decision to give his life (John 10:17-18). Jesus had done all that he had come to do. He cried out, ‘I have finished it’ (John 19:30). Then he gave his own life to God his Father. He cried out with a loud voice that the people could hear. He said, ‘Father, into your hands I place my spirit.’ (Luke 23:46) His spirit went to be with God. He took his last breath and his body died.
When Jesus died, the large curtain in the temple split from the top to the bottom. That curtain was between the holy place and the most holy place in the temple. The chief priest went into the most holy place once a year to meet with God. He had to go in on a special day. The purpose was to ask God to forgive the sins of himself and the people. No other person could go through the curtain. Now the curtain to the most holy place was open. It was as if anybody could now go through the curtain. Now the people could approach God for themselves. The death of Jesus has made the way for us to approach God. Jesus’ body is like the curtain by which we have a doorway to God (Hebrews 10:19-25).
At the same time, the earth shook and the rocks split. The effect of that was that graves opened. People would expect that when the earth shook. They did not bury people in the ground there. Those graves were in the rocks. Many bodies of holy people came out of the graves. The dead people became alive. When Jesus became alive again those people went into Jerusalem. It seems that Matthew did not write in a strict time order. Because of the earth shaking, the graves opened. However, the dead people became alive and went into the city three days later.
The soldiers saw all that happened. They had seen other crucifixions but this one was different. They had felt the darkness and they saw the effects of the earthquake. They had heard all that Jesus had said on the cross. They had seen how he died. It was not natural and they were afraid. They knew that Jesus must have been innocent of any crime. Jesus was not just an ordinary man. Jesus’ death convinced them that he was the Son of God.
The soldiers saw and were a part of all that happened in the event of Jesus’ death. In the end, His death convinced them of who He said He was.
God is who He says He is.
He defends His Word.
Do you believe in Him?