“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”…And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:45-54.
The darkness, the earthquake, and the cry of abandonment from Christ convinced the soldiers that this was no ordinary execution. The events terrified them. What a realization! They had put to death God’s Son! They came to this conclusion solely from the effects of the power of God on display at Calvary that dark day.
The centurion’s confession tells us something eternally important: Jesus as the promised Messiah and Son of God is seen most clearly in His passion and death. How interesting that the Jewish religious establishment had mocked Him with the title: “He said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (vv. 41-44) by which a Roman centurion now confessed Him.
The men and women who witnessed the trial, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ saw more than words can ever express. They heard things that we can only imagine. But what they saw in their lifetime, we have seen in the Scriptures, and the result is amazingly the same. Though we may not have seen Him physically, we have seen Him through the pages of Scripture and found solid ground for belief. The book of Romans explains the phenomenon this way: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (10:17).
“Truly this is the Son of God!” We have heard and we have believed. But it mustn’t end there. We must burn with the passion to know Him-the very passion of the apostle Paul, who wrote that his life’s goal was “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).
May that same desire burn in our hearts as well, that we might truly know the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.