My cousin Phil introduced me to Science Fiction movies. I have great memories from my childhood of spending the day with him and experiencing all types of fascinating things. I learned magic tricks, read comic books, built models with airplane glue and watched excerpts from classic horror and science fiction movies that were shown on an 8mm home projector. One movie we watched was the classic science fiction movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (the 1951 black and white version). I didn’t know it at the time, but the movie is filled with metaphors that point to Christ, including the main character rising from the dead at the end of the movie.
I couldn’t help but remember that movie when I read the Bible this morning and ran across this passage in Matthew 27:51:“The earth shook.” At the very moment that Jesus died on the cross, the earth shook.
I think we forget sometimes that Jesus is Creator as well as Savior. Colossians 1:16 reveals: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible…all things have been created through him and for him.”
At the death of Jesus our Lord, all of creation not called a person reacted first. Luke tells us the sun stopped shining from noon until three. Matthew records that the rocks split and that tombs of many holy people were opened and raised to life. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Only after these events do we see the first reaction of a person. Matthew 27:54 says, “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!”
It took the earth shaking and the rocks splitting to shake sense into those nearest the cross that day. Indeed, Jesus is the Son of God! Even when we who are created in his image stubbornly resist acknowledging him as Lord, creation itself breaks out in anguish. Could it be that the trees and the stars and the rocks are teaching us a lesson about worship? Not only did the world shake in agony at the death of the Creator, but throughout the Bible we read of trees and stars and rocks responding to the work of the Lord.
The earth shakes in praise.
Isaiah 55:12 says, “…the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
The earth shakes in reaction to injustice.
Habakkuk 2:11, “The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.”
The earth shakes in gladness at the coming judgment.
Psalm 96:11-13, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.”
The earth shakes with joy at the comfort of the Lord.
Isaiah 49:13, “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”
As we approach Palm Sunday this weekend, we are reminded that at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the shouts of the followers of Jesus were so great that it alarmed the Pharisees. These legalists wanted to control the people, bring calm and reject the Messiah. So, they said to Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” At that, Jesus responded: “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
At the death of Jesus, the people were quiet, but the earth shook! The stones cried out! Creation reacted in grief and anguish at the death of our Lord. Can any of us keep quiet in the face of our redemption and salvation?
Jesus died for us. May we ever live for him! May we ever praise Him! If we don’t, be assured, creation will do the praising for us! The earth will shake. The stones will cry out. The heavens will rejoice. The mountains will sing. The fields will clap their hands. It’s happened before and there’s coming a day when it will happen again! In the meantime, let’s not keep quiet. May our anthem be like that of Paul who said, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)