Devotional: April 15, 2022, Good Friday
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Mark 15: 37-39 NRSV
Good Friday is an ironic name. It is a terrible day for Jesus, for it is the day when He died upon the cross. How can anyone call such a day “Good?”
Yet, the implications of Jesus’ death were good for all of us. It was through Jesus’ death upon a cross on Friday, His burial in a borrowed tomb thereafter, and His resurrection to new life on Easter morning, that we received our salvation.
The story is full of surprises, and a big one occurs just after Jesus died. Seeing how Jesus died, a centurion at the scene proclaimed, “Surely, this man was the Son of God!”
This was unexpected because the centurion was a Roman soldier, and a Gentile. He was not Jewish, and thus not part of the chosen people. Although perpetually viewed as an outsider in spiritual matters, this Roman centurion sees most clearly the true identity of Jesus. Many of the chosen people missed seeing Jesus’ true significance, but a Gentile figures out Jesus’ true identity? This is so surprising.
The centurion’s affirmation of Jesus as the Messiah surprises us for other reasons as well. It took place at Golgotha, a place of death. And yet the implication of the centurion’s statement gives us life eternal. Ironically surprising!
Finally, this affirmation of Jesus’ true identity occurs just after Jesus died. Jesus’ humanity and vulnerability were on full display. Yet they did not deter even the Roman centurion from calling Christ “the Son of God.”
Perhaps the only way to improve upon the centurion’s statement would be to foreshadow prophetically what would happen three days later.
Today, we know the rest of the story. As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ overcoming the cross, we need to spend time focusing on the events of this day. Let your heart seize upon and comprehend all that happened on this dark and painful day for our Lord Jesus Christ, before we begin to celebrate.
In hindsight, maybe the centurion should have uttered these words: “Surely, this man was the Son of God, and He will be so again… just wait until Easter morning!
Father in heaven,
Today is the day when I remember the death of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Forgive me when I rush to the tomb without remembering how He got there. It was a terrible, awful day for Him, with the sky turning black, yet I know it led to the most amazing gift ever offered to me. Thank You for sending Your Son to teach, to heal, to inspire, and ultimately to love me, and to save me. I pray this prayer in His good and Holy name. Amen.