2020-03-19 - When You Know
The Cross Series, Part 47
Originally Published 1998-07-16
Matt 27:51-54 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (NAS)
A Roman Centurion was an educated, considered man. He was rarely rash in his thinking, but able to evaluate a situation. He was a leader entrusted with 100 soldiers. This was not a responsibility given lightly. He was a man who had faced battle and seen men be wounded and die. A Centurion had pledged his allegiance to Rome and to Caesar as his Lord.
In the midst of supernatural events, the Centurion at the cross was faced with a staggering set of facts.
The beaten, bloody Jesus arrives at the place of execution when anyone else would have been dead long ago.
Jesus forgives His executioners and those who jeer and abuse Him in the midst of horrible pain. He does not return the mocking.
One convicted prisoner comes to defend Jesus and he is promised Paradise with sure authority.
A nearly tangible darkness for three hours at high noon.
Jesus cries with a loud voice, "It is finished!" just as the shoffar is sounded for the completion of the afternoon sacrifice.
He dismisses His spirit at the moment of His own choosing.
The 60 foot temple veil, four inches thick, is torn from from top to bottom without visible cause.
A sudden earthquake opens nearby graves
The occupants of the graves emerge alive and well, and are seen by many witnesses.
This battle-hardened Centurion and his occupation force soldiers became frightened. What would frighten this man? He is confronted with something he could hardly fathom. Caesar was god in Rome. The monarch was considered divine. And now the facts are presented that contradict that reality he had accepted. "Truly this was the Son of God!", he says. He must have been utterly convinced to have made this statement within earshot of his troops. It was treason against Caesar!
Yet, he was confronted with an undeniable reality too. "To deny the facts would be illogical," according to Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The fabled Sherlock Holmes is roughly quoted as saying, "When all other possibilities have been eliminated, whatever is left, however unlikely, must be true." The Centurion did not believe Jesus was the Son of God because Pilate's sign said so. He did not accept the truth of Jesus' divinity simply because Jesus had claimed it. He was confronted with a body of evidence and digested it. No other possibility was left to him.
Jesus made a claim to be God in human flesh. It is very likely that the Centurion was aware of this claim. As the afternoon progressed and one thing stacked on top of another, this well-educated man is forced to evaluate what he sees. When he is finally confronted with one outcome, he decides Jesus is Who He claimed to be. What will you do when you are confronted with the love of God and the end of your ability to deny Him any longer? How will you react when your own resources can no longer sustain you?
What will you do when you know? When His grace, love and mercy become undeniable, will you side with the thief on the left, or the thief on the right?
Lord Jesus - There comes a time in our lives when, if someone will honestly consider the record, they will know You are Who You said You are. Give them the courage they will need to let go of their pride and their self-sufficient abilities and take hold of You. You have promised a peace beyond human understanding in the middle of this world. Help those of us who know You as Savior to be bright evidence of changed lives for You. Give us the courage to stand up for You in an adversarial world. Amen.
CFD | March 2020
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All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.