In Matthew 27, we have recorded the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In vss. 45-54 Jesus dies but in his death four miraculous signs happened. These signs are pointers to what is going on in the death of Jesus. These signs show us the violence in his death.
When I say Jesus’ death was violent I mean more than the horrible act of violence that crucifixion was. Even more than the physical torture was the violence going on in the heavenly realms as Jesus died.
The first sign is darkness. Darkness covers the earth for the three hours prior to Jesus’ death. Darkness represents the enemies of God and the enemies of humanity: sin, Satan and death. These three enemies close in on Jesus as he hangs on the cross, they attack him, they surround him until finally he cries out, “eloi, eloi, lama sabachtani, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” It seems that the violence of darkness has won.
But upon his death three more signs happen. First the temple curtain is torn from top to bottom. This curtain represents the separation from God that sinful humanity experiences; the lack of access to His presence. We see the violence of heaven tearing away the barrier between us and God. Sin is being defeated by the death of Christ.
The third sign is an earthquake. The ground is shifting. This is Matthew’s way of telling us that Satan is losing control; there is a shift in kingdoms taking place, and God is doing a new thing. No longer is the prince of darkness the ruler of the kingdoms of the earth. Everything has changed and now “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7)
The fourth sign is that tombs are opened and three days later, not only Jesus but other holy people are seen risen from the dead. The final enemy, death, is going down in defeat as well.
Jesus’ death is violent. First the forces of darkness gather around Jesus. Sin, Satan and death close in on him and he cries out and dies. But that is not the end. Now it is God’s turn to release the violence of heaven on the darkness. Barriers are coming down, the spiritual ground is shifting, and death is losing its cold grip. Violence, God’s violence on are behalf. War, God warring for his people. That is why what should have been the darkest day in human history is called Good Friday.