The centurion . . . praised God. . . . The people . . . beat their breasts. . . . Those who knew him . . . stood at a distance, watching these things.
The leaders thought they were in control of the situation. After all, they had gotten Jesus nailed to a cross. They mocked him and beat him, and he did nothing. What could he do?
I wonder when the soldiers first noticed the sun had stopped shining. I wonder how the Pharisees reacted when the temple curtain tore apart. Do you think any of them started to feel as if they weren’t in control after all?
Did you notice how much control Jesus has even as he dies? In a loud voice and with one last breath Jesus gives his Spirit over to God the Father.
Compare that control to the unexpected reactions of the people nearby. The Roman centurion, of all people, is the one who praises God and remarks on Jesus’ righteousness. Did he even believe in God? The crowds beat their chests in lament. Why were they so sad? Weren’t they the ones who were just mocking Jesus? And the people who had followed Jesus stood at a distance and watched as if they had no idea what to do. It doesn’t seem that anyone there could even control their own reactions.
God is in control, even when it comes to how we react to him. Would you like to react favorably to Jesus, but maybe you don’t know how? Let’s pray, asking him to work in our hearts.
Dear Jesus, we don’t have as much control as we like to think. Please move our hearts today so that your death for us makes a difference in all we do. Amen.
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