WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 16, 2022
TOPIC: THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE!
BY T. O. BANSO
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4 New King James Version).
One of the things that happened when Jesus breathed His last on the cross was a great earthquake that happened suddenly. Matthew 27:51-54 says, “Then, 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. So 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!’” (New King James Version).
The centurion and other soldiers guarding Jesus on the cross might have witnessed many crucifixions in the past. Hence, they noted that the earthquake and other happenings which accompanied the death of Jesus were not ordinary. Therefore, they were greatly afraid and testified that truly Jesus was the Son of God. By this, they contradicted the position of the Jewish leaders who didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God and accused Him of blasphemy before the Council (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:64). The Jewish leaders further accused Him of treason before Pilate, for which Pilate delivered Him to them to be crucified.
The events surrounding Jesus’ death were strange. The earthquake, the tearing of the veil of the temple from top to bottom, the splitting of the rocks, and the opening of the graves and the dead saints coming back to life were not ordinary. These saints came out of the graves after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city of Jerusalem, showing themselves to many.
These happenings made the centurion and the other soldiers guarding Jesus exceedingly afraid and convinced them that He was the Son of God. They must have heard how passersby and the chief priests and the scribes and elders were mocking Jesus for saying He was the Son of God (Matthew 27:39-43). But what they had witnessed made them believe it wasn’t a false claim.
Significantly, an earthquake accompanied both the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Jesus had predicted before His death that He would be killed but He would rise up on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; Luke 9:21-22; 18:31-33; 24:7). But His followers didn’t understand or look forward to His resurrection.
The Jewish leaders, who remembered this, were thinking that His disciples would steal His body and claim that He had resurrected (Matthew 27:64). But the disciples had no such plan. They were living in the fear of the Jews (John 20:19).
Matthew 28:1 says after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. Mark’s account mentioned three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1).
Mark 16:1-5 reports what happened after Mary and the other women visited Jesus’ tomb thus: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed” (New King James Version).
They were anxious about who would help them to roll away the stone to enter the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus, not knowing that the stone had been rolled away. But how was the stone rolled away? Matthew 28:2-4 tells us: “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (New King James Version).
This passage says there was a great earthquake when the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb. Joseph of Arimathea had buried Jesus in a tomb hewn out of the rock and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb (Mark 15:46). He was a prominent member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the highest ruling body, and a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38). The stone was to safeguard it as it was the Jewish custom.
The enemy did not roll the stone to block the door of the tomb to prevent Jesus was coming out in case He came back to life! It was to safeguard it. But when the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate on how to protect the body of Jesus from being stolen by His disciples, “Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (Matthew 27:65-66 New King James Version).
If the stone had not been rolled away, the women, who came to the tomb, wouldn’t have been able to enter. Therefore, they wouldn’t have known immediately that He had resurrected. Even if these women had the power to roll back the stone, it would be illegal to do so because it had been sealed. The Greek word for sealing in Matthew 27:66 is sphragizo which means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication, to keep secret, to attest” (Strong’s Concordance). The implication of sealing the stone with the seal of Pilate or the Sanhedrin was that nobody could remove the stone without breaking the seal without authorization.
Nobody could have gained access to the tomb of Jesus without breaking the seal. But there was a great earthquake! An angel of the Lord came down from heaven that didn’t need anybody’s authorization to break the seal or roll away the stone. He rolled it away and sat on it as if waiting to see who would challenge Him. These women saw that the very large stone had been rolled away and there was nothing to hinder them.
Where were the guards whom the chief priests and Pharisees posted to the tomb when there was a great earthquake and the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled back the stone, and sat on it? Were they able to withstand his countenance which was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow? Matthew 28:4 says the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. They couldn’t do anything. They fell into a dead faint. God’s power is supreme.
You should also remember that suddenly there was a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison of Paul and Silas at Philippi and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed (Acts 16:26). It wasn’t a jailbreak. It was God’s power at work and neither Paul and Silas nor any of the prisoners escaped.
Thank God for the power of God at work. God can work through anything to fulfil His will. He chose a great earthquake in the cases of Jesus and Paul and Silas. In Jonah 1:4, the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that Jonah’s ship was about to be broken up. He used the wind to bring a reluctant prophet into line.
In His dealing with Elijah on the mountain, after he had run from Jezebel, the LORD was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire; but in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). You cannot predict God. Just have faith in Him.
In Numbers 11, Moses wondered how the LORD would feed the six hundred thousand Israelite foot soldiers with meat for a whole month (verse 21). The LORD asked him if there was a limit to His power and told him He would see whether His words would come true or not (verse 23). But the LORD fed them with meat as He had said. How? A wind went out from the LORD and brought quails from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp. For many miles in every direction from the camp, quails were flying about three feet above the ground (verses 31). The meat was more than enough.
There was a great earthquake! There was a great wind! There was a still small voice! Also, a wind went out from the LORD. His name is “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). In other words, “I will be what I will be.” Have faith in God. Trust in Him to use any means to perform His counsel in your life. God can do whatever will get the job done whether it is a great earthquake, a great wind, a still small voice, or even a great fire! Everything is at His service. And everything is possible with Him.
In 2 Kings 3:17, the LORD, through the prophet Elisha, told the Kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, who needed water urgently, that they would not see wind or rain; yet the valley shall be filled with water so that they, their cattle, and animals might drink. In the morning, when the grain offering was offered, suddenly water flowed from the direction of Edom, and the land was filled with water. “God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea; and rides upon the storm” (William Cowper, 1774). God is God!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, Your power is not limited; I believe You can do what You have promised. Father. Whatever is required for my stone to be rolled back, Father, do it for me by Your mercy. Father, send your angels to deliver all those who are currently in critical situations and need your intervention.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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