When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was and Peter passed the test, Jesus gave them a surprising command. “And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day’ ” (Luke 9:21-22). It was all about the events unfolding according to God’s mystery-plan at the appointed time.
Before long they are gathered together for the first festival of the Jewish year. It is the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. You may recall that Jesus compared leaven (yeast) to sin. The festival covers seven days, with the first and the last days being high Sabbaths in which no work is done. It starts with the Passover memorial, which celebrated Israel’s deliverance from the last plague of Egypt, when the angel of death passed over every house that had the blood of the sacrificed lamb on the doorpost. This particular Passover meal that Jesus had with His disciples is known today as the Last Supper.
It’s no coincidence that Jesus introduced the practice of communion at the Last Supper. The Lamb of God told His gathered disciples, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).
Jesus informs them that one of their own will betray Him to the religious authorities. That led to a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. Even at this late stage in His ministry, the disciples still don’t get it. As further proof, Peter carries a sword with him when they go the Garden of Gethsemane afterwards to pray. In the heat of the moment, he uses it to cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. In the grace of the moment, Jesus restores the man’s ear.
The Gospel writers record that Jesus was crucified on Friday at the third hour (9:00 am). From the 6th to the 9th hours (noon to 3:00 pm) the first of four unusual signs occurs. In the Bible, the number four symbolizes the earth. For three hours starting at midday, darkness covers the land. Darkness signifies judgment. “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Back in the Temple, the thick, heavy curtain that separates the Holy of Holies from sight is rent in two from top to bottom. Given the size of the Ark of the Covenant, the curtain is probably 30 feet tall. Human hands could not have done the deed.
On the cross, Jesus declares, “It is finished.” And then He cries out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” He bows His head and gives up His spirit. He breathes His last breath.
Hebrews 9:12 records, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 10:19-20 describes the veil as His flesh. Through the blood of Jesus, believers can now have boldness to enter the presence of God by a new and living way, which Jesus consecrated for us. For Christ “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
As the veil is being torn, a huge earthquake shakes the earth (Mt. 27:51). I wonder if the people made the connection to Mount Sinai, when the “Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18).
But most astounding of all, Matthew 27:52 also records that “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Talk about a wake-up call!
The Chronos Lesson: Jesus taught that the final sign before His return will be total darkness over the whole earth. We are not told how long this darkness will last. Perhaps three hours, three days, or three weeks? Only God knows. But at some point, God will rent the heavens and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds to gather His Body and take us back to Heaven.
When He comes, He will literally stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the same mountain ridge where He was crucified. His presence will cause an earthquake that will split the mountain, providing a way of escape for the Jewish remnant that has finally acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. They will go to their prepared place of deliverance from the invading armies of the Antichrist.
The earth will give up the dust of the bodies of the dead in Christ. Those of us who are alive when He comes, will be instantly changed. All those who are His will be glorified and receive immortal bodies. The Head and His Body will then reenact His ascension to Heaven, finally united as one new Man. Together we will be taken to our prepared place in Heaven, to Father’s House, and before the throne of God. At this point, the six Days allotted for the work of mankind shall be finished.
Now seated as the Heavenly Court, our previous earthly assignment will be handed over to the revived Jews who will preach the Gospel to all the nations. Our new heavenly assignment will be to rule with Christ from above during the final great Day. Stay tuned for more details on what that looks like. 1/15/24