The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” – Lk. 23:47 NIV
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According to the crucifixion records kept by Mark the Evangelist, who was an associate of the Apostle Paul (Acts 12:12; 15:37), Jesus Christ was crucified at the third hour of the day which in modern times will be 9am – Mk. 15:25. This means that he had barely being on the cross for three hours when darkness covered the earth – Lk. 23:44. The light of the world had had just been crucified on the cross – Jn. 8:12. This darkness was to remain for three hours, that is from 12noon till about 3pm, a period during which he probably left the earth to preach to the souls that were already dead – 1Pet. 4:6; Eph. 4:9. No one was going to be able to give the excuse of not hearing the good news and so could not repent before the day of judgement. The Apostle Peter says the dead may be absent in body, but they will also be judged, like men who are in the body, since they are considered by the Almighty God to be spiritually alive. At the end of that period, Jesus Christ was reported by Matthew, the disciple to have cried out to the father asking him why he had been forsaken – Matt. 27:45. This is hardly surprising also as the Almighty God as much as he loves a sinner will never associate with sin. Jesus Christ at that moment was actually sin impersonated as he carried the burden of the sins of the whole world on himself. That was a sight that the Almighty God was not willing to behold.
The darkness was the result of the stopping of the sun from shining whilst another significant event of note was the splitting of the curtain of the temple into two – Lk. 23:45. His death had brought unfettered access to the inner sanctuary, a place that was hitherto reserved for the High Priest only to enter once a year – Heb. 9:6-7. It was after this event that Jesus was recorded to have made his last statement on the cross which was the committing of his spirit into the hands of his father and breathed his last – Lk. 23:46.
All these events will definitely be strange to anyone and the centurion on duty who also witnessed the events was not exempted as he gave praises to the Almighty God and openly testified that indeed Jesus Christ was a righteous man. However, the others who also witnessed the event just beat their chest in a pitying manner and walked away whilst those who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching. This is another case of people not taking advantage of the events that unfolded before them and same can be said of the Christian today. There are indeed many people who may not have been present when he was crucified but on an annual basis at least are being reminded of the events surrounding that great sacrifice but their reaction remains inappropriate.
Just as the people that knew him including those who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and were watching, many Christians today who claim to know Jesus Christ, with some claiming to have been introduced to him from birth, are not even taking advantage of the sacrifice he made. They are idle doing nothing to spread the gospel. He had commissioned all to go into the world and preach the gospel baptising all who believe but today many are in church for different reasons. While some are in church to enjoy the powerful Ministration which has no impact whatsoever on their lives, some just see going to church as a social outing. Something that they are doing because they have a free day or need to be entertained by the Choristers. Some like the beggar at the beautiful gate are in church to meet some demands – Acts 3:2. They are physically in church but their thoughts are focused on the financial benefits of being there and not the personality they claim to be there for. Some of these people have long history of association with religion but they remain aloof to activities that will enhance his course. Those in this group can only claim to be Christians but there will always be a question mark on such claims. The idle Christian cannot have the kind of fruits with which a true Christian should be recognised. Get to work on his behalf so that his death will be meaningful to your life.
Some other Christians belong to the other group of people who were present during his crucifixion and witnessed all these events, but just beat their chest in pity and walked away. They can best be described as the emotional Christians. They are those who hear all that Christ suffered to save man and become very emotional during ministrations. They get so emotional that sometimes they shed tears when the graphic picture of the sufferings of Jesus Christ is presented but it all ends there as it does not change their approach to life. They only felt sorry for Jesus Christ. These group of people were present from the beginning of his trials and he had good advise for them – Lk. 23:27-31. They needed not weep for him but should weep for themselves and their children. They needed to feel sober for the evil that awaits them if they do not leverage on the event they are witnessing by honestly repenting of their sins. It will indeed be a dreadful period and no tears will save them from it unless they access the advantage that comes with what they are seeing or hearing. They are to rend their hearts and not their garments, the latter being what they are doing by being emotional – Joel 2:13.
The reaction that is expected of the Christian is that of the centurion who on witnessing the event praised the Almighty God and acknowledged the righteousness of his son, Jesus Christ. Surprisingly, this was a man who was not documented to have had any association with Jesus Christ before this event but he was the one that did the needful. The only expectation from the Christian today who is coming in contact with this historical event is to see the significance of the sacrifice that was made, be sober for making a righteous person go through all that pain for him/her, show remorse for sins committed and strive to stay away from sin. Any displayed emotion should actually reflect one who feels very sorry for making Jesus go through all those experiences with a promise to ensure that the sacrifice he made will not be in vain. That is what is expected of the Christian when there is a re-cap of his sufferings.
He died already and the deed is done. He is no longer on the cross so he does not need your pity and compassion. All he requests is for you to appreciate how far he went to bring you back to your status in the garden of Eden. A life of peace and happy relationship with your heavenly father. That is all he wants. The only way you can show him that you are grateful is to let him achieve the goal of his sacrifice. Your pity is not needed.