Calvary’s Miracles: Darkness, the Torn Veil, Earthquake, and the Resurrection of Saints

Category: Full Sermons

And try to see the cruel nails and a crown of thorns, and Jesus crucified for me. Matthew 27, verse 45: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Some of those who stood there when they heard that said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to Him to drink. The rest said, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.’ Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and 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. Now, when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God.'”

I’m going to speak to you briefly about the Calvary miracles. There were four in that passage. Our Lord came into the world miraculously. He started His public ministry with a miracle. Through the three and a half years of His ministry, He did many miracles. And it’s completely fitting that as the Son of God is on the cross, He continues to work miracles.

Calvary’s Miracles: Darkness

The first miracle is a mysterious darkness. Did you see it there in verse 45? “Now from the sixth hour, 12 noon, until the ninth hour, 3:00 in the afternoon, there was darkness over all the land.” And Luke says, “over all the earth,” and it’s not an eclipse. No eclipse can last three hours, any sort of eclipse. In Egypt, Diogenes saw the darkness and he wrote in his diary, “Either the deity himself suffers at this moment, or sympathizes with somebody that does.” It was a mysterious darkness. Now, tonight it will get dark, and it will get dark because of the absence of the sun. But this was darkness in the presence of the sun. The darkness of Calvary smothered the light of the sun at noon. And it’s God’s commentary on the nature and the intensity of the sufferings of Christ. The sufferings of your Savior were so intense and so awful that God hid them from every human eye. And I’m left there, standing at the cross, and I say, “Oh, Calvary! Where my sin, all my sin, every sin of mine was punished. He suffered the just for the unjust, that He might bring me to God.”

Calvary’s Miracles: Torn Veil

The next miracle was the rending of the veil. You’ll see it there in verse 51. We read, “Our Lord cried out with a loud voice,” and we know from elsewhere that it was, “It is finished.” And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And the veil is that great curtain which was in the temple, which divided the holy place from the Holy of Holies. It was a massive curtain, 60 feet long, 30 feet high, and the same thickness as the thickness of a man’s hand. And on the rare occasions when it was moved, it took 300 priests to handle it. And the purpose of the curtain was clear: it’s telling you that the way into the holiest is not open. You’re on the outside. But once a year, just once a year, the high priest, having to sacrifice the blood for his own sins first, he was allowed to come in and to sprinkle blood to atone for his own sins and the sins of the nation. And the curtain had been there, in one way or another, in the old tabernacle, and in the first temple, and now this temple, for centuries. And as our Lord cries, “It is finished,” this curtain splits from top to bottom, and the veil falls apart. And the way into the holiest is opened. It’s an act of God. Now, some people say, “Well, the earthquake moved the structure,” but actually, for the earthquake to move the structure in such a way that it tore the curtain, the whole building would have had to collapse. This was an obvious act of God. And God is telling you, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is the end of symbolism. All those symbols of the Old Testament tabernacle and all the rest, it’s all over now. It’s the end of sacrifices. Because the blood of bulls and goats could never take away my sin. But the way into the holiest is open, and the invitation is there, and it’s there tonight. “Let us draw near by the blood of Jesus.”

Calvary’s Miracles: Earthquake

The third miracle is this mighty earthquake. Did you see that in verse 51? “Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened.” Now, earthquakes, of course, are quite common in the Middle East, but this was a particularly powerful earthquake. Rocks were split, and great fissures were opened on the surface of the earth, wide enough for human bodies to come out from their graves below. And it coincided with our Lord’s final cry. It coincided with the splitting of the veil. The Son of God cries; the earth shakes. Not the first time there had been an earthquake in Israel’s history, was it? There was a big mountain which shook and then spoke the condemning voice of a law-giving God. And now there’s a hill which shakes and now speaks the fatherly voice of a sin-pardoning God. And the answer to this is this: Yes. Amen. And I can say, “Oh, Calvary, the place of darkness where my sin was punished. Oh, Calvary, the place of a rent veil, where the way into the holiest was opened. Oh, Calvary, where I was delivered from the condemnation of the law by the death of Christ.”

Calvary’s Miracles: Resurrection of Saints

The fourth miracle was this strange, this miraculous appearance of dead saints. There it is in verse 52: “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.” Ladies and gentlemen, this was not blind force. Graves were opened, but specific graves. This wasn’t some random event. The only graves which are opened as the earth breaks open are the graves of believers. I hope you know that the Lord knows where every believer is after their death. He knows where every redeemed body is. After the death of the believer. The early church believed, actually, that it was the martyrs of Old Testament days who were honored in this way. And Matthew Henry writes in his famous commentary, “What if we should suppose that they were the martyrs who, in Old Testament times, had sealed the truth of God with their blood, who were thus dignified and distinguished?” Notice, the tombs were opened at the time of Christ’s death, but the bodies came out and went into the city after His resurrection. I wonder if there’s any more powerful way of showing to us that by His death, our Lord has conquered death. By dying, He has robbed for believers the fear of dying. By dying, we’re too short of life—everlasting life, spiritual life, bodily life. And we pause at the cross and say, “Oh, Calvary, the darkness where my sin was punished, the veil rent in two so I could enter in, the earthquake, the anger of a law-giving God has been appeased, this strange resurrection which assures me that my own resurrection is certain too. What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now, in the presence of all His saints.”

0:00 Introduction and Scripture Reading
2:44 Overview: The Four Miracles at Calvary
3:19 Miracle 1: The Mysterious Darkness
5:43 Miracle 2: The Veil of the Temple Torn
8:43 Miracle 3: The Earthquake and Splitting Rocks
11:01 Miracle 4: Resurrection of the Saints
14:04 Reflecting on Our Response to Christ’s Sacrifice