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Mark 271 - Surley



The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 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 15:38,39


When people die, there is always a reaction. Always a response. There’s mourning and crying. People feel saddened. They hang their heads. They might even wear black or some dark clothing. Some people wear a black armband to show that they are in mourning. This certainly happened when Jesus died.


When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.


Luke 23:48


Beating their breast was a sign of deep sorrow. Symbolically, they were inflicting pain on themselves to show their sadness. But when Jesus died, it wasn’t your average, run of the mill, death. More than human emotion was expressed.


The heavy, thick, holy curtain in the Temple itself was literally torn. Not just some little tear from wear over the years but was torn in two. From top to bottom. The entire curtain was ripped apart.


This more than symbolized that access to God was made available to one and all. No more waiting for one special day. No more available to one special person. No, God paid the one-time, once-and-for-all ultimate price so that we could have personal, unlimited, access to God.


At this same time, a Roman soldier thought about how Jesus died. Remember, Roman soldiers were pros when it came to death. They had seen death all over the place. They had killed many different people. In many different places. In many different ways. But there was something unique about the way Jesus died that captured his attention. It was so unique and moving that he had to say that Jesus was the Son of God.


In the Roman world, government and religion were combined. And in their thinking here were many sons of the gods. If you were a hero, or accomplished some great feat, or had the government say so, you could become a son of the gods.


When the soldier said that Jesus surely was the Son of God, it was a statement of praise towards Jesus and a stinging condemnation against those passing by. Especially the chief priests, and teachers of the law[1]. The soldier probably didn’t understand the Jewish Messiah idea. To him, Jesus was someone who was able to rise above the misfortune and mistreatment of life. He saw Jesus as not just innocent, but an outstanding person, perhaps even supernatural.


The death of Jesus prompted this soldier to say something. He saw Jesus and the way he died. He couldn’t contain himself. He had to say something. He had to express what he was thinking. What he was feeling.


As we look back on the death of Jesus, what do you say? Are you quiet, thinking that no one will notice your silence? Your embarrassment? Your hiding from the facts or feelings? Or do you mumble some non-committal nonsense, trying to show something, but certainly no commitment?


I had a conversation with a barber the other day. I asked her about something taped to the mirror that said we needed a personal relationship with Jesus. When I asked her about it, she blurted out that a customer put that on the mirror. She then went on to say that she believed in God and Jesus. But she said it in such a way that I instantly knew that there was nothing personal about it.


And then we have the soldier who can’t say nothing. He’s forced by what he’s seen, what he’s experienced, what he feels. He can’t keep his mouth shut. He can’t not talk about it. He has to express himself.


Is this how you think about Jesus? Is he someone so important to you, so exciting, so vital that you just have to say something? Is he at the very tip-top of your priority list that he takes first place in everything? In your finances. In your daily life. In those times when no one’s looking?


That’s exactly what God is looking for in you and me. He wants us to be so totally sold-out over Jesus that we just can’t stop thinking about him. Talking about him.


If your relationship with God through Jesus doesn’t look and sound like this, they you need to rethink about exactly how deeply you love Jesus. If he’s not the absolute center and core of your life, then he’s not where he wants to be. Where he deserves to be.


And we’re the only one keeping him from being there.

[1] Matthew 27:40,43

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