Posts Tagged ‘crucifixion’

The Centurion Believed – Why Can’t We?

Given that this past weekend was Easter weekend, the subject matter of many church sermons (including the one at my own church) centered on both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While many people surely know the events of the crucifixion, and there have been in recent years plenty of accounts of what exactly Jesus endured leading up to His death on the cross, it was a verse after the actual death of Jesus that caught my eye this weekend.

Matthew 27 tells the account of Jesus death. The verse in question is Matthew 27:54, which says, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the son of God!'”

I’m sure the timing of the earthquake had something to do with the terror felt by the Roman guards, but in thinking about it, it probably wouldn’t have meant anything if not for what triggered it. Verse 50 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”

For those of us who know a bit about crucifixion, we are aware that most of those who died on the crosses did so of asphyxiation. Those nailed finally lacked the strength to pull themselves up on their nailed hands to get breath, and the pleura would fill their lungs and cause them to suffocate and die. This is a long process and at the end the crucified was probably exhausted and extremely weak.

Yet not so with Jesus! No, He “cried out again in a loud voice.” If Jesus had mumbled His final cry (which we know from other gospels to be “It is finished!”) and then the earthquake happened, it would have been easy for those around to call it a coincidence or make up an excuse. But that Jesus was not suffocating was surely a powerful thing for a centurion, who had likely been to many crucifixions, to see. He was still full of energy, and with His loud cry and the subsequent earthquake, the centurion had to believe that the timing of the two was not coincidental, but divine.

Note also that in verse 50 it doesn’t say, “And then Jesus died.” No, it is, “He gave up his spirit.” Jesus had full power, even in death. Death did not overcome Him; He gave His spirit to death to fulfill the promise of His sacrifice. These powerful occurrences were easily enough to sway those who so recently had been mocking Jesus. I wonder where the centurion went after this. Perhaps he went to see Jesus’ buried to pay homage to the man he now believed to be the Son of God. No doubt this centurion was less surprised (and more in awe) when he found out that Jesus was no longer in the tomb three days later; He already knew firsthand that Jesus was capable of more than the average man.

So I guess my question for you as the reader is what it will take for you to change your heart in the way that this Roman centurion and his soldiers were changed. How loud does Jesus need to cry for you to listen to Him? And what is evident in the world today that you would attribute to coincidence instead of the power of the Lord working mightily?

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It’s Friday…But Sunday’s Coming!

Why Believe In the Bible?

I saw the video on this last week, but for some reason I’ve put off posting about it. At our Bible study last Thursday we watched a sermon by Voddie Baucham about why the Bible should be believable. He gave a long statement explaining why (and supported by 2 Peter 1:16-21) and broke it down. Here is the statement, followed by some broken down explanations about why the Bible is believable.

The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitness during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that there are writings are divine, instead of human, in origin.

The Bible is a reliable collection: It’s a collection of 66 books written by over 40 authors. It’s reliable because it was written over a period of roughly 1,600 years; it was written down in 3 languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) on 3 continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) by men who mostly never met each other, yet they tell one single, unified story.

of historical documents: The Bible gives specific names, dates and locations as recorded in human history. There have been over 23,000 archaeological digs directly related to historical events in the Bible, and not one historical event has had to be changed in the text of Scripture based on their findings.

Written down by eyewitnesses: Most of the men who wrote in the New Testament were alive at the time life of Jesus. 2 Peter 1:16 supports this, as does 1 John 1:1-3.

During the lifetime of other eyewitnesses: These things were written down during the time that people who were eyewitnesses to the life of Christ were still alive. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 says this: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Verse six says that he appeared to more than 500 people, most of whom are still living. That means at the time of the writing of 1 Corinthians, at least 250 people who were witnesses to Christ’s life and death were still alive. Wouldn’t there be at least one manuscript that would have mentioned something about these writings of Paul being false if he wasn’t speaking the truth?

They report supernatural events: I.e. Jesus healed paralytics, the writers themselves heard the voice of God (2 Peter 1:18), they saw Jesus walk on the water, etc. Again, wouldn’t these stories have been refuted in other manuscripts if they didn’t tell truth?

In fulfillment of specific prophecies: When Jesus was on the cross, he cried out “Eli, Eli lama sabbacthani” which translates “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the beginning of Psalm 22; in those days they didn’t have chapters and verses–the way you named a psalm (song) is by it’s first line. If Jesus started the song, those Jews who knew this psalm and were at the cross were probably finishing the rest of it in their heads. What else does this psalm say? “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads…I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” This is exactly what was happening to Jesus; he was pointing out the specific prophecies that were being fulfilled, prophecies that were written over 1,000 years before Jesus was born by a man who had never once in his life heard of crucifixion, because it hadn’t even been invented yet!

And claim that they are divine, rather than human, in origin: The Bible claims God is the author, not men. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. How many times in the Bible does it say, “And God spoke to…” “God told…”? This should dispel the notion that the Bible can’t be believed because men wrote it. By the way, if you believe that the Bible is not believable because it was written down by men, then burn your library! Also, burn any other religious text because they were all DEFINITELY written down by men. But rather, the Bible only claims that the Word of God was written by GOD through man.

Whew! Some pretty heavy stuff. If you got through all of that, good for you! In case you want to see this for yourself, here’s the link to the first part of the message, and you can find the rest on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm-rtE5P9E8