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Even in the depths of humiliation and persecution, Jesus was declared the Messiah. Declared by a person you’d never expect.
Not long after a challenge to crawl down from the cross–an accusations that Christ was not who he said he was–a Roman centurion makes an unusual statement.
It was noon when darkness covered the whole land.
A sign the Jews didn’t expect. Nor even noticed as such.
But a sign that signaled their blindness. Their subjection to spiritual darkness.
The darkness remained for three hours. And in that darkness Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Jesus didn’t complain of Peter’s betrayal. He didn’t complain that his followers fled from him.
He complained that God had forsaken him.
Wrath seen in the Old Testament consuming fire. Fire that consumed the sacrifice. Fire that should’ve consumed the sinner. It fell on Christ. A sacrifice that pacified God. A sacrifice that cried long and bitterly.
Startled by this sudden appearance of life in Jesus, someone soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on the end of a long stick and raised it to Jesus’ lips.
They intended to cool his mouth. Not to nurse him. But to mock him. As if to say, “He’s crying for the prophet Elijah to rescue him. What other crazy thing can we get him to say?”
Then, Jesus died.
And at that instant, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, a signal that the nation of Jews would eventually be destroyed…
…Ichabod, the glory is departed from Israel…
And it signaled comfort to Christians: Here is a new and living way into the holiest by the way of Jesus’ blood.
And now we come to the centurion’s statement. Convicted and convinced, the centurion who oversaw the execution confessed: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
The unjust punishment of a sinless man. The honor that heaven declared to the suffering servant.
Even in the depths of humiliation and persecution, Jesus was declared the Messiah. The Son of God. And he was declared to be so with power.
**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark right now.