GodReflection: Walk Toward the Quake
Almost fifteen hundred years after God’s Glory quaked the earth on Mount Sinai Jehovah God quakes the earth again with an eternal message for humankind. God allowed religious leaders and Roman soldiers to nail Him to a cross to save His children.
This time the mountain is not much more than a high point on the landscape. From this mound of earth, the quake of all quakes shook backward and forward into eternity. It still shakes the ground of the present.
This quake took place at the darkest high noon of history.
On the mound outside the walls of Jerusalem called Calvary, or The Skull, stood three crosses. The day began as another work day for a detachment of the Roman army. The assignment was to crucify three men—two thieves and an innocent man. The orders to crucify a blameless Jesus came through the cowardly permission of Pontius Pilate a Roman official in charge of Judea.
By noon the morning’s work took its toll.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46).
. . . for the sun stopped shining. . . Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:45-46).
It was as if God could not bear the pain. The grief of Father God shook the mound of earth and its surroundings with the most significant earthquake of all history.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open . . . When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:51-54)
Only after the quake did God’s created ones begin to comprehend the event that blocked the mid-day sun’s light.
Only after the quake does the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” start to make sense. For it was the quake that signaled Jesus departure to hell—forsaken by His Father—to pay for my sin. He was forsaken by God so that I will never have to know the utter darkness he experienced in my place.
Only after the quake is it possible to understand that death on a cross caused the temple curtain to rip open. For the first time Humankind had direct access to Creator God through Holy Jesus the priest.
Only after the quake do the open tombs become important. (More on this in the next post).
Only after the quake does the tremors released that day give power and meaning to the confession and affirmation of the centurion and his cohorts, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Only after the quake do we realize the cross was not the end of the story.
Over two thousand years afterward to stand near the quake brings each of these realities afresh into my present.
Because the quake leveled the ground at the foot of the cross, I now have access to the blameless Jesus whose lifeless body shook at the Holy site.
As the earth shook and the rocks split, I’m reminded there is room for all near the quake of the cross. Amid the noise of the rumble I hear God’s love reach out to bring us near over two thousand years afterwards. Can you hear it?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: The Earth Shook–The Rocks Split