And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The words of the centurion by the side of the Cross are, for the most part, some of the most important true words spoken. Jesus is truly the Son of God. However, there is one thing the centurion gets wrong: Jesus isn’t in the past. Often, when someone dies, people speak to them “as they were” or in the past tense. But Jesus isn’t in the past tense. Jesus is the Son of God, and that doesn’t stop. It didn’t stop with His death on the Cross, and it doesn’t stop during His resurrection, and it will never stop.
Jesus laid in the tomb is just as much the Savior of the world as Jesus on the Cross or as Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. Jesus raised from the dead is just as much the Savior, too. A situation that looked hopeless and that looked like Jesus was left in the past tense isn’t what it seems. Instead, the crucified Jesus was laid to rest in the tomb in order to rise again.
The fact that Jesus is not in the past tense is important for you because you will never be in the past tense, either. Jesus’ eternal life gives you eternal life. You will live forever in the present tense because Jesus lives forever. The One who died is the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Him will never die–and that message is for you.
The devil might try to tell you that Jesus is disconnected and far away from you. Your own common sense might try to tell you that, too. But your Lord Jesus, the Son of God, has drawn close to you, delivering His death and resurrection to you every time it is preached into your ears, when you read about His great love for you, when you were baptized into that death and resurrection, and when you receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for you for the forgiveness of sins. If the centurion saw and believed that Jesus was the Son of God, so do you, one of God’s redeemed children for whom He died. Your Savior has forgiven you all your sins and holds you continually in His grace, not in the past but in the present. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Upon the cross extended See, world, your Lord suspended. Your Savior yields His breath. The Prince of Life from heaven Himself has freely given To shame and blows and bitter death. (“Upon the Cross Extended” LSB 453, st.1)
-Rev. Peter Ill is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.