And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
In the final chapters of the gospels, we read, with sadness, the details of Jesus’ death. However, in the midst of the darkness, there are beacons of light that shine brightly from Golgotha’s hill. Here are three of them.
The first is the repentance of the dying thief and Jesus’ word of hope to him:
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
The second is related to a man called Simon; we read in Mark 15:21:
“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.” (Mark 15:21)
We can only imagine the impact that carrying Jesus’ cross had on Simon of Cyrene. Picture Jesus weakened from the scourgings, and faint from loss of blood. Perhaps at one point, He turned His bloodied face to Simon and uttered words of thanks to the one who was relieving Him of one of His burdens. I imagine that, arriving at Golgotha, Simon was not quick to return home. I can see him among the crowds of onlookers, mockers, and loved ones gathered at the scene watching and waiting to see this tragedy through to the end. Was Simon there when darkness covered the whole land from the sixth to the ninth hour? If so, he would have heard the pleading of Jesus, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Luke 23:34. Then he would hear the final cry of triumph, “It is finished”. (John 19:30.) Perhaps only then he returned home.
Picture Simon, a subdued and solemn figure, entering his house, then sharing with his family the heart wrenching scenes of the day.
Although this is conjecture we do know that Mark, who mentioned Simon’s sons Rufus and Alexander in his gospel, was writing his narrative to Christians in Rome. Likewise, the apostle Paul, when writing his letter to the Romans says, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.” (Romans 16:13). Many believe that Mark and Paul are referring to the same family. It would seem that all were impacted by the life of Jesus.
The third beacon of light is the reaction of the centurion to Jesus’ death:
“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
Notice the centurion’s words; he saw ‘how’ Jesus died’. Friends, the lives of countless millions of people down through the ages have been affected by how Jesus lived and how Jesus died. The repentant thief, Simon of Cyrene and the centurion are just three of them.
The apostle Peter once wrote:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
Let us thank God today for the example Jesus set us in life and in death as ‘how’ to live... and let’s go and do likewise.
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.