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when the sky falls in

And Jesus (AD 30, Jerusalem) cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. But the tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the fallen asleep holy-ones were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and were made known to many. But when the centurion and those who were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely frightened, stating, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” But many women were there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Matthew 27: 50-56
 
It’s worth more than a moment’s thought: the death on a Roman stake of Jesus Christ as recorded by Matthew in his first-century eye witness biography. 

Matthew’s used a chiastic or arrow structure in describing Jesus’ last words and last breath. The structure centralised on the one bystander alone who, seeing death was very near, "immediately ran, took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to Jesus to drink."

After that, Mathew wrote about three groups of people, there at Golgotha, the Place of a Skull, also known as the Place of a Head, immediately after Jesus had breathed his last breath.

 
Who comes into your mind when you read the words “fallen-asleep holy ones”? Who would “fallen-asleep holy ones” have been in AD 30 when Jesus died outside Jerusalem?
‘This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there’s a rumour going around that some of us are some day going to come to life.’ (C S Lewis, writer and academic, 1898-1963) 
Well, they’re the first Group about whom Matthew then reported. “But the tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the fallen-asleep holy ones were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and were made known to many.” 

I suppose that, these days here in Jersey, we shouldn’t be surprised that there would be this marvellous sign about those already dead in AD 30. These were a sign that those made holy before ever Jesus came and died and rose again, even though they too had already died, would be resurrected through him.

But what about the living people there at Calvary the moment Jesus died? Matthew wrote. "But when the centurion and those who were with him watching Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely frightened, stating, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”" They knew who he was. 

Who do you think might be the third group? After those “fallen-asleep holy ones” and after those alive and seeing it all take place? You’d never have guessed unless you’d read it. Matthew wrote, "But many women were there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee."

Jesus has just died. But many women who’d followed and served him, were there. They were just like the bystander who, just before Jesus’ last breath, "immediately ran took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to Jesus to drink." They’d followed him and served him just as the bystander had done.

These three groups of people, about whom Matthew reports, were wonderfully blessed. The fallen-asleep holy ones, the centurion, and those faithful women watching Jesus.

But what about the 12 disciples as a group? Matthew couldn’t write about these male closest followers of Jesus because they weren’t there.  What do you make of that? One of them had deliberately given Jesus away in exchange for money. Another had sworn on oath that he knew nothing of Jesus and Matthew reports nothing at all about the other ten – at this stage.

 
But Mathew does record that, after his resurrection, Jesus does send a clear invitation through several of the women to ask the disciples to go to Galilee where he will meet them.

‘Grace …. turns lions into lambs, wolves into sheep, monsters into me, and men into angels.’ (Thomas Brooks, preacher and author, 1608-1680) 
They had every reason not to want to meet him ever again. I know they did never-the-less go to meet him. Every blessing on your meetings in the places where you’re invited to go.

 
Sinner Syvret

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