There he was. Hanging on a cross. For the world to see. Oh. Some who witnessed his death were followers of The Way. Others had ridiculed him. Pronounced him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Wanting to witness the takedown of a man who stood for everything they were against. And so he died. There on the cross.
There were some witnesses who hadn’t quite made up their minds where they stood on the issue of his guilt. They had witnessed his arrest. They knew when he was dragged to court that the charges were all heresay. But they stood silent. And when the beatings started, they stood in agreement with the brutality. But in their hearts, they doubted his guilt. Oh. They knew they must keep quiet. Or they too would reap the anger and violence upon themselves. So they kept quiet. But they still doubted. They saw innocence when those in authority were pointing the finger of guilt.
So they continued with their charade. Forcing an innocent man up the path to Calvary, carrying a cross that was too heavy to bear. Imagine being those soldiers. How many times did they doubt the guilt of those they were leading to their death. Most likely, not too often. But on this day, there was doubt. and confusion. But they continued on the path to the trio of crosses.
Perhaps some of these soldiers had witnessed miracles this man had performed. Perhaps they drank the wine of his first miracle at that wedding. Perhaps they had seen Lazarus, who had been dead for two days, walk out of that tomb. Or maybe they had seen the paralyzed man leap off his mat and begin walking. But they spoke not a word of what was in their hearts.
Oh. There were mockers in that platoon of soldiers. You see. Not all believed who he was. So they shouted insults and taunted him. They created a crown from a branch of thorns and shoved it on his head. They even dressed him in a purple robe. Not out of respect, but in jest. And when they were finished with the mockery, they led him to be crucified. No dignity. No respect. No honor.
There were those who taunted him. They threw his own words back at him. In his face. You said you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Come down from the cross and save yourself. Even those who were crucified with him ridiculed him.
When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39
But at some point, the tone shifted. To a certain degree. One thief nailed on a cross next to Jesus continued to hurl insults at him. But the thief on the other side believed. We’re going to die right along with this King of the Jews. He hasn’t even done anything wrong. He asked Jesus to remember him as he moved from life to death. And Jesus assured him that he would have a place in paradise that day.
When the Roman officer who stood facing Jesus saw how he had died, he exclaimed that he truly was the Son of God. He had witnessed the entire crucifixion scene. He saw the tenderness of Jesus’ interaction with the thieves and with his mother. This soldier knew he was seeing God in action. He believed.
It makes me wonder. When I’m going through my toughest week and my life is on the line, what do those who are against me see? When those who have ridiculed and taunted me see me at my weakest, what are they saying about me? When they see me struggling in troubled and difficult times, do they say to themselves, “Truly, this is a child of God.” Or do they wonder if I’m all talk with no action in my faith.
Is my life consistent with the words that I say? Do my actions speak louder than my words? If my life was on the line, would others recognize the work of God in my life? What do others see in me that I’m not aware of?
There are those who deny the existence of God. There are those who doubt the creation story. There are those who are unwilling to bow to a holy God. There are those who watch from the sidelines but back away from the truth. But they watch the believers. They see the actions. They hear the words. They listen but their hearts are hardened to the truth. Unwilling to sacrifice their will and lay their soul on the line.
They see believers in their hardest days. They watch as believers walk their most painful steps. They hear the testimony of the faithful followers of the Way. They are watching. They are listening.
When you face disappointment or unfairness. When you are persecuted and ridiculed. When you are innocent but found guilty. Will they say of you in those moments, surely, this is a child of God?