Reflective Notes for Good Friday
Matthew 27: 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Why the centurion’s proclamation is remarkable:
- Centurions were tough men, not used to emotional outbursts.
- He’s there to enforce discipline among his men, not make fanciful statements.
- They are emperor-worshipping polytheists, not typically believers in the God of Abraham.
- The Jews were a despised and subjugated- he’s unlikely to respect them.
- Jesus resembles any ordinary prisoner and this Centurion would have executed a good many.
- It seems sincere: ‘truly’, he says.
- As a Roman, he believed the sons of gods existed and this was one of them. They’re usually demigods, however, not like the dying man before him.
Why did he make his confession?
- He heard the very words of Christ:
Mark 15:39: 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
- He will have been aware that Jesus was the substitute for Barabbas who should really have been executed.
- He saw the dignity of this death amidst the indignity of its circumstances.
- Earth quake- just a coincidence? Or an earthly expression of the Creator’s anguish.
- Rocks split? Where else in scripture is rock-splitting alluded to?
Ex 17: "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He is the Water of life
Ps 78:15: He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths.
Jer 23:29: "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock? -God’s word being delivered is a powerful force.
Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire And the rocks are broken up by Him. -God’s anger is being satisfied.
- The dead raised- anticipating Easter Sunday and the general resurrection
Who? When? How long? Glorified resurrection bodies?
- In response to Christ’s prayer:
Luke 23:34: 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
‘feared’ -it’s a terrifying thing which they have just done.
He may not have known about the rent veil, but it symbolised his like receiving access to God.