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Matthew 27:54-56

Lesson # Matt. 27:54-56
Study Material - Matt. 27:54-56

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Matt. 27:54-56

54 Now [de] when the centurion [hekatontarches] , and [kai] they that were with [meta] him [autos] , watching [tereo] Jesus [Iesous] , saw [eido] the earthquake [seismos] , and [kai] those things that were done [ginomai] , they feared [phobeo] greatly [sphodra] , saying [lego] , Truly [alethos] this [houtos] was [en] the Son [huios] of God [theos] .
55 And [de] many [polus] women [gune] were [en] there [ekei] beholding [theoreo] afar off [apo] [makrothen] , which [hostis] followed [akoloutheo] Jesus [Iesous] from [apo] Galilee [Galilaia] , ministering [diakoneo] unto him [autos] :
56 Among [en] which [hos] was [en] Mary [Maria] Magdalene [Magdalene] , and [kai] Mary [Maria] the mother [meter] of James [Iakobos] and [kai] Joses [Ioses] , and [kai] the mother [meter] of Zebedee's [Zebedaios] children [huios] . KJV-Interlinear

54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!' 55 And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, 56 among whom was Mary Magdalene, along with Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. NASB

Mark 15:39-41
39 And when the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God!' 40 And there were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 And when He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem. NASB

Luke 23:47-49
47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, 'Certainly this man was innocent.' 48 And all the multitudes who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts. 49 And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee, were standing at a distance, seeing these things. NASB

There are four categories of people mentioned in these verses. The fourth (the apostles) by means of implication. The first three are mentioned specifically. The first group consists of the Centurion and his men, the second group consisting of the women who had remained with Jesus throughout His ministry, and the third group consisting of the general unbelieving crowd.

These verses record the reactions of all these folks, to the events they were witnessing. The soldiers led by their centurion (a commander of 100 men), who is probably comparable to a captain in our modern army. Though there weren't 100 soldiers at the cross, these men actually carried out their orders to execute these three men, who were currently hanging on the cross. They were battle hardened soldiers and knew how to crucify people. They did not flinch nor act as though they were doing this for the first time. They had seen many an accused and had executed many men prior to this day. They were no strangers to battle or death.

However this day was different. The magnitude of the darkness and the earthquake, and all occurring with the simultaneous death of Jesus Christ, sent them into a state of terror. The word is one that connotes sheer terror along with the heavy sweating, anxiety, and rapid heartbeat of one who is extremely afraid. They (the soldiers) were not afraid of the darkness nor the earthquake, but of the power they perceived which was behind it all - God. They recognized Jesus as the Son of God and stated it as so. They believed in Christ right then.

The centurion refers to Jesus as the Son of 'the' God, which is the one and only true God. They did not refer to Jesus as the son of some other lessor pagan god. Just as the High Priest accused Jesus of claiming to be the Son of 'the' God, as opposed to claiming to be the son of some other god. If they had accused Jesus of claiming to be the descendant of a pagan god then He would have been written off as a lunatic and ignored, but the accusation against Jesus is for claiming to be exactly who He really was, which of course the priests rejected. The events that were taking place were not normal. Roman soldiers would view them from their pagan view of life. They knew nature and they knew that this was no ordinary series of events.

The second group consists of the women who followed Jesus throughout His ministry. These are women whose reaction is one of incredible devoted loyalty in the face of ridicule and danger. They probably stood at a distance because they could not bear to witness up close, the pain and suffering that they just knew that Jesus was made to endure. Their reaction is to watch these events. They were hopeless and helpless to do anything about these events, but their courage and loyalty kept them as close as was humanly possible to their Lord.

Several women are named but the group consisted of many more. The first is Mary Magdalene, the one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, Luke 8:2. Magdalene was not part of her family name but indicated that she was from the town of Magdala. She was single.

The second woman mentioned is Mary the mother of James and Joseph. This James was one of the apostles commonly referred to as James the Less, Mark 15:40, or James the son of Alphaeus, Matt. 10:3, Acts 1:13, to distinguish him from the other James, who, with Peter, and his brother John, made up the inner circle of three of the twelve. John identifies this Mary as 'the wife of Clopas,' John 19:25.

The third woman is identified as Salome by Mark 15:40, but is referred to by Matthew simply as the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John), in other words, Zebedee's wife. The sons of Zebedee were nicknamed by Jesus 'Sons of Thunder,' Mark 3:17. Mary the mother of Jesus was also at the cross, John 19:26, although she, along with John, may not have been with the other women at this time.

The third group is the unbelieving crowd who had been taunting Jesus, mocking Him, spitting on Him, arrogantly watching for Elijah to come to rescue Him. They represent fools who are brave when they sense no danger to themselves, and their courage only exists when their target is in a helpless position to fight back. The darkness probably quieted them for a short time, but then the light came back and they resumed their ridicule when they realized they had suffered no harm to themselves.

But then the earthquake, and in the distance, in the Temple, they could certainly see (or heard about it later) the veil being torn from top to bottom. Now God has their attention and they react with a tremendous sense of foreboding, grief, and guilt over what they have participated in. 'Woe is me,' kind of thing but to the extreme points of anxiety and fear that God is going to come and get even with them sooner or later.

The fourth group is not there except for John who was with Mary, Jesus' mother. Odd as it might seem, they were off somewhere hiding for fear of their own lives. They presumed that they were of some value to the authorities at the time, and they overestimated their importance. The women who followed Jesus Christ and performed the many daily domestic chores, remained undaunted and loyal to Him despite any threat that might have been directed toward them. And of course no threat was ever aimed at them. But they could not know that at the time. The apostles, who were so sure of their importance in the Kingdom to come, and who should have remained close at hand, were nowhere to be found.

So now the trials have been concluded, the crucifixion has been carried out, the judgment of all of mankind's sins has been completed and the most unbelievable demonstration of nature's power, as the universe itself reacts to freedom from that which Satan has caused, has been concluded.

Now all things will return to their former state. The Kingdom of God has not yet come into view. Jesus' lifeless physical body is still hanging there on the cross. Everyone begins departing back to their homes or wherever it is they are staying while in Jerusalem.

One wonders just how many will turn to the scriptures to begin learning the truth and then just how many will stick to their studies, or if they will be impressed for a short while and then return to their former ways.

We too face that test everyday. Our study of the crucifixion is nearing completion. For many it is an interesting story and nothing more. But our study will not end here. We, will of course continue to another book and to another study everyday. Our study will never end. Even if the topic is 'not so exciting' as the one we have been studying these past several months.

Our test? Who will stick to their study and who will drop out? Who will continue persistently for the rest of their lives, and who will 'take a break.' Our eternal status depends on what we do in this life. Make the right choice and stick to the single most important aspect of your life - your advancement to spiritual maturity.

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End Of Lesson

Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.

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