We’re midway through Easter season, and Christians around the world are remembering Christ’s death, caused by our sin. But we are also celebrating, because Resurrection Day is our God-given promise that we, too, will one day rise.
This year on the blog, we’re featuring a five-week family Easter Bible study written especially for families. We’re posting one study a week every Friday leading up to Easter. It’s an excellent opportunity for your family to remember the story the Bible tells about Jesus’ death and resurrection—but also challenges families to consider three important questions at the end of each study: Who is God? Who is Jesus? Who are we?
By Mark Ward
Read Matthew 27:45–66. Jesus hung on a cross during three hours of darkness—from the sixth to the ninth hour. Then he “yielded up” or “gave up” his “spirit.” Why would Matthew describe his death in this peculiar way? Is this just an ancient way of saying that Jesus “kicked the bucket” or “bought the farm”?
No. Matthew is telling us that Jesus was not allowing his life to be taken. He was actively laying it down on purpose.
Read John 10:18 (a verse we looked at in Week 2). Even though Jesus gave his life on purpose, Matthew does not clearly explain what that purpose was. But the apostle Paul provides the answer in another part of the New Testament. Read 1 Corinthians 15:3. What is the purpose of Jesus’ death?
He died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Matthew does give a hint about Jesus dying for our sins.
Read Matthew 27:51 and Hebrews 10:19–22. Why would the curtain of the temple be torn in two when Jesus died? Who could have torn the curtain from top to bottom, as Matthew describes? How does the author of the letter to the Hebrews interpret this event?
This curtain was at the entrance to the Holy of Holies—the holiest room of the temple, a place where God’s very presence dwelled. The curtain was a barrier between God and man, and it was torn down. Jesus’ death opened the way for man to approach God. Jesus’ body symbolically became the curtain.
When the curtain was torn, the way was opened—through Jesus—for people to enter into God’s holy presence. “No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus says in the Gospel of John (14:6).
Now read Matthew 27:52–53. Just after Jesus’ died, before his body was even buried, a miracle occurred. What was this miracle? And what is the meaning of this miracle? To get a clue, read 1 Corinthians 15:12–23.
Saints rising from the dead were a sign from God confirming that everything Jesus said and did was true. But there’s more to it than that. This miracle seems to be looking ahead to Easter. Jesus’ resurrection was part of something much bigger. It was like the first grain of wheat to be picked in a huge harvest. It was a sign of hope for all believers, showing us that our lives will not end with physical death. Jesus’ death on the cross brings victory over the power of death.
Who is God?
He is the one eager to tear down the barriers between him and humanity.
Who is Jesus?
He is the willing sacrifice who gives up his life to take away the sins of the world. He is the one who opens the way to God and defeats the power of death.
Who are we?
We are people whose sin is so great that Jesus had to die for it. We are people whom Jesus loves and rescues from death.
This post has been adapted from the original article by Mark Ward in the March 2020 issue of Bible Study Magazine.