Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 27:51-28:9

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Matthew 27:51

Curtain of the temple was split in two. Inside the temple there was a curtain that separated everyone from the inner place where God's presence was manifested, called the Holy of Holies. The tearing of the temple curtain at Jesus' death symbolizes both judgment on faithless Israel and especially, the replacement of the temple with Jesus himself as the place of access to God (John 4:21-24; Heb. 10:19-22), with Jesus as the presence of God now on earth (Matt. 1:23; 28:20).

The Saints Raised – Matthew 27:52-53

Many miracles accompanied Jesus' death and resurrection — darkness, an earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain, and the resurrection from the dead of several faithful believers from earlier days. Matthew does not give us any more information than this, but the point of these signs is to indicate the importance of Jesus' death and resurrection. The raising of dead people is particularly important because of Jesus' own resurrection that changes human history.

Matthew 27:54

Centurion …"Truly this was the Son of God." The most important title to describe Jesus is that he is the Son of God (Matt. 3:17; 4:1-11; 11:25-27; 14:33; 17:5; 26:63), and this is reaffirmed here at Jesus' death. It is also significant that it is a Gentile (centurion) who recognizes and proclaims this (see Matt. 2:1-12; 8:10-12; 28:19).

Matthew 27:58

Asked for the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea must have been wealthy and influential enough among the Jews to have access to Pilate, the Roman governor. As a disciple of Jesus, Joseph did not want Jesus' body to be dishonored. A poor, crucified criminal would not have been given a proper burial.

Matthew 27:61

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. These were two of the many women who followed and supported Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). "Mary" was a common name in Jesus' day and these women were identified in other ways: Mary who was from Magdala (Luke 8:2), and the "other Mary" who was mentioned in 27:56 as the mother of James and Joseph, who was the wife of Clopas (John 19:25).

Matthew 27:66

They went and made the tomb secure. The Jewish leaders were afraid that Jesus' disciples would spread a rumor that Jesus had risen from the dead, so a Roman guard was placed to guard the tomb. The tomb was sealed, probably with ropes and a wax that bore the official sign of Pilate.

Matthew 28:1

Sabbath. The Jewish holy day each week was on Saturday, with the first day of the week as Sunday. Thus, Jesus' resurrection occurred on the third day of these events (Friday-Saturday-Sunday).

The Angel of the Lord – Matthew 28:2-7

When the two Mary's came to visit the tomb, a glorious creature sent by God from heaven appeared. This may have been the same angel (Gabriel) that appeared to Joseph and told him to marry Mary and that Jesus would be God's Son and God's presence (Matt. 1:20-23). The angel at the tomb caused the guards to faint (Matt. 28:4). The angel spoke to the women directly and revealed the empty tomb, explaining that Jesus had risen.

Matthew 28:9

Took hold of his feet and worshipped him. The women were the first people to give the resurrected Jesus the honor and praise due him (Matt. 14:33). Jesus' feet are mentioned to show that Jesus was not just a spirit or ghost but in fact was resurrected in bodily form (John 20:20, 27; 1 Cor. 15:13-22).

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