One of the two most important days in human history seemed pretty ordinary to some Roman soldiers. It was their grim duty to perform three public executions in Jerusalem the day before the Passover Sabbath. They carried out their assignment with macabre and practiced efficiency, hammering the nails into their victims’ hands and feet.
Two screamed their pain and hatred. The One in the middle bore his suffering mainly in silence, once speaking to ask his Father for forgiveness for his tormentors. As Jesus was dying, it began to dawn on the noncom who was in charge of the crucifixion detail just who it was who hung before him: “When the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15:39).
That centurion went back to his barracks that day carrying three things: his share of the clothes they had taken from the executed men, the terrible guilt that they had crucified not only an innocent man but the very Son of God, and a gospel message of forgiveness that extended even to murderers like him.
There are many takeaways for you and me from this incredible scene, but two matter more than all the rest. First, the crucifixion of Christ shows us how bad our sins really are. Second, his crucifixion shows us that his purchase of forgiveness for all was successful. It is finished. Satan is finished. Christ has made you free.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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