Theme of the Week: Roads to Easter
Bible Verse: 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 27:54
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:45-54
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to convince someone. They seem ready to believe. For others, nothing less than a sign from the sky can change their minds. The thief on the cross fit into the former category. His first-hand experience of the way Jesus endured his suffering convinced him that there was something different about him (that’s how some people reconcile the fact that Matthew and Mark record both criminals as insulting Jesus, but Luke records the famous expression of faith). Seeing Jesus’s humility and gentility touched something deep within the man and he changed.
The thief on the cross wasn’t the only person to have a change of perspective during Jesus’s crucifixion. But this change of opinion required more than Jesus’s humble submission to his executioners. In fact, it was one of His executioners who had the change of heart.
Executions were the job of the soldiers. They had beaten, stripped, and humiliated Jesus by gambling for His clothes. Jesus took it all with divine grace, submitting to the humiliation because it was accomplishing God’s plan. Even Jesus’s request for the Father to forgive the executioners did nothing to melt the heart of the Roman soldiers (though that particular moment may have gone a long way in moving the heart and mind of the thief).
Instead, it was only after the miraculous signs that accompanied the death of Jesus that the centurion made his proclamation. Darkness, and a rock-splitting, curtain-tearing, tomb-opening earthquake (and the dead coming back to life) all led to the exclamation that Jesus was the Son of God. It took the reaction of the creation to the death of the creator to open the eyes of the centurion to what was happening in front of him.
Prayer: Giver of life, thank you for taking the death I deserve. You lived the life I couldn’t and died the death I should have so that I could be made right with the Father through you. Thank you for going to such incredible lengths to redeem me. I confess that sometimes it takes the earth moving for me to respond. Help me to see you for who you are.
Reflection: When has it taken a lot for God to get your attention? Why? Ask God this week to make you sensitive to His presence and voice.
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