April 18, 2014
READ: Luke 23:26-49
When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent” (v.47).
On 15 April 1865, family, doctors and government officials crowded around the bedside of American President Abraham Lincoln. He was unconscious and close to death from an assassin’s fatal bullet.
After Lincoln took his last breath, those keeping vigil stood in silence. Shock and sadness left them speechless. After several minutes, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton reportedly broke the silence with these famous words, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
The gospel of Mark records that after Jesus cried out to His heavenly Father and breathed His last, the Roman officer (who was in charge of overseeing the execution) was so moved by all he witnessed that he declared, “Surely this man was innocent” (Luke 23:47).
Unlike Lincoln’s death, it wasn’t just the fact that Jesus died that deeply touched the officer. It was watching how He died.
Jesus didn’t retaliate against His executioners. He didn’t hurl insults back at the Jewish leaders who scoffed at Him or at the passersby who shook their fists at Him (Mark 15:29). He didn’t respond in kind to the soldiers who mocked Him or gambled for His clothing (Luke 23:34). He didn’t fight evil for evil. Instead, Jesus quietly endured their relentless abuse. And when He did speak, He blessed and prayed for those who persecuted Him—“Father, forgive them” (v.34). He even showed mercy and reassured the repentant criminal who was executed next to Him (vv.40-43).
No wonder this Roman officer was moved to say what he did!
The way Jesus died reflects the way He lived. And He calls us to live (and possibly die) in the same way, working for and anticipating that day when He will return and once and for all put everything right. —Jeff Olson
1 Kings 17:1-24 ‹365-day plan
Read Mark 15:39 and consider some additional words from the Roman officer.
What touches you the most about the way Jesus died? How does His selfless sacrifice affect the way you serve Him and others?