A centurion spoke the last word to the cross. He probably had a rank of a commander over 100 men. He was the most experienced, best informed, and least likely to react to a situation emotionally. Commanders were the backbone of the Army. He was responsible for military discipline and efficiency. The man who spoke these last words to the cross in Mark 15:39 oversaw the scourging and crucifixion of Christ. When Jesus began his ministry the first Gentile to respond was a centurion. Now at the end of his ministry, another centurion was the last one to respond. Both men had to decide about Jesus.
The centurion concluded that Jesus was not like any other man. The Bible teaches that Jesus was perfect in all ways. We must have a perfect Savior; otherwise, he would not be able to save us. The centurion also decided that Christ’s relationship with God was different from anyone else. It was the son of God who hung and died on the cross.
What he decided about Jesus was spoken out loud. Any convictions that we claim to have about Christ are worthless if we do not express them in words. Several verses in the Bible remind us we cannot be secretive believers. What good is it to have a conviction about Jesus if we don’t share it? Since Jesus did not die in private, we cannot live a Christian life in secret. It is selfish to withhold sharing Christ. To not witness for Christ is a dishonor to him.
The world does not want a Christian to declare that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that he is risen. If we allow those two pillars to be taken away from Christianity, it is reduced to one of many other useless religions. To keep those two pillars means that all other religions don’t matter. In response, the world accuses us of being bigoted and narrow. They say that we are intolerant and insensitive. They challenge by asking why it is that we are right and everyone else is wrong. They remind us that we are living in a day of new enlightenment. Everything must be subject to review and change. After all they say, there are many possible ways to interpret the Bible.
Unfortunately, the average Christian easily falls into the world’s trap and over explains what it is for Jesus to be the Savior. Worse yet, some Christians buckle under and seek to compromise. Too many Christians over too many years have compromised so that the world is arrogant enough to declare Jesus was never risen and like others he too died and stayed dead.
There is a contention of this paper that Jesus really did rise from the dead! No other person can say that about himself. No other religion, philosophy, or moral standard can say that its leader died and stayed dead for three days: then he rose from the grave. With all that Jesus suffered before his crucifixion, the massive injuries to his body on the cross, and declared dead by official Roman soldiers who killed people on a regular basis, we can justifiably say Jesus died on the cross. Even his enemies asked that a guard be posted on the tomb for fear he would rise. After he did rise from the grave, they bribed the soldiers to say that the body was stolen away. That would mean that untrained citizens had to overcome a group of well-trained soldiers. Then they had to roll a huge stone away from the entrance to the cave. Then they had to take a stinking body and hide it somewhere else. To those who would propose such an excuse for not believing in Jesus I am forced to say that is ridiculous. I say this not as an insult. It is merely to say that whoever is the disbeliever must keep an open mind to the actual historical and chronological events from the Bible and secular sources. These soldiers were not Boy Scouts. In fact, their responsibility was so serious that if they failed, they could be executed.
Let us declare that Easter Sunday is the most important day of the year to celebrate. It is more important than Christmas. It is more important than any other day on the calendar. On that day we look back and recognize that Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen because there is a divine plan. Before the world was created, it was decided that Jesus would die on the cross, knowing that the descendants of Adam would prefer sin. All through the ministry of Jesus, his many miracles, his teachings, his death and resurrection, God was in charge. No one could divert God’s plan and God’s power. If we accept the probability that God is the Almighty, we must also accept the probability that he has a divine plan for his creation.
By being the Almighty, God has all power. With all the medical advances today, there is no way to put a soul back into a dead body. On that third day in the cave the corpse of Jesus lay. At God’s special moment a charge of life bolted through the body and Jesus came back alive! God’s power is so great because he can do anything. He can mold a baby in the womb. He can create a hummingbird that never stands while it feeds on the nectar of flowers. He can hang a planet many times the size of our sun and suspend it there because he says so.
Therefore, whatever God says matters. What he says cannot be disputed. What he says cannot be changed by another. What he desires is his own decision. When God says it, it is done. As God reaches out to every human being, he offers the promise of eternal life with him because he says so. Not the devil, any human being, any creature or angel, any law or dictate can change what God says is to be. He called life back into his son. Surely, he can call life into our dead souls because of the sin we have.
And that does not just include a chosen few. Every single person that has ever been born and ever will be born is included in the picture. No one is left out. John 3:16 says Jesus died for the whole world. No one of low estate is excluded. No one of multiple or horrible sins is excluded. God is open to all who will come to him by faith in his son Jesus Christ.
The Bible describes sin as if it were stains on a white garment. Those stains cannot be washed out by human effort. No one by their own power can make themselves purest snow. Every single person has a soul that is blemished by the acts of sin and the nature of sin. There is no power on earth or in heaven that can make a person able to stand before the Almighty, perfect God. It is not a matter for a person to talk his way into heaven. It is too late for talk. Only the power of God that raised Jesus from the grave can raise us from our sins and forgive us and give us a new path in a new direction. It takes a special power that only belongs to God to make us a new creation. We are not just new creatures we are a whole new creation.
The centurion made decisions about Jesus and concluded what he believed concerning the man who just died on the cross. He said, “truly.” His decision was that Jesus is the son of God. Through the death of Jesus, he saw him more than a man. For any of us to take an honest look at Jesus on this Easter day, the only right decision is that Jesus rose from the grave. He rose from the grave to conquer death and take its sting away. He rose from the grave so that whoever believes in him need not fear death and will have the divine promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus. And the reason to have faith in Jesus is that he is alive! He is alive! He is alive! HE IS ALIVE!!!