Daily D – Mark 15:39
Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
“And tell me, Seargent, what led you to the conclusion that this man was the Messiah, the Son of God? What did he do? What convincing proofs did you see? What about his death stands out from all of the other men you have seen die on a battlefield or at an execution?”
“Well, it’s like this. Every other man I have ever put to death fought for his life. Even when he knew he was weaker than me, less well-trained than me, overwhelmed by my superior resources, he fought to the death. It’s amazing how valiantly unarmed men will struggle even when they know they have no chance at coming out alive.
“They curse. They beg. They weep like little girls. In their last moments, when they witness their own blood pouring from wounds that cannot be healed, when they hear their last breath leave their lungs, they look away. They know they are getting what they deserve.
“This man? This man was different.”
“How was he different?”
“He had already lost a lot of blood from the beating he took from our company lictor. His is a brutal job, and he’s good at it. Sometimes too good, if you know what I mean.”
“Let’s pretend I don’t know what you mean.”
“What I mean is sometimes he goes one lash too far. More than a few prisoners have given up the ghost from the beating they received.”
“And this man you claim was the Son of God was scourged before he was crucified?”
“Indeed. Somehow, and I do not know how, he carried his cross beam a good way toward the place of crucifixion. He could not make it all the way due to his broken bones and loss of blood, but he made it farther than I would have imagined possible.”
“Well, I impressed a man to take up where he left off. He carried the beam the rest of the way. The convict followed along behind him. His posture made it appear as if he still carried the beam. It was as if the weight of the whole world was on his shoulders.”
“Seargent? Please go on.”
“Sorry. Lost my train of thought there for a minute. There was quite a commotion when we made it to the top of the hill. My soldiers had to wrestle the other two men to the ground to lay them down on their beams. It’s amazing how many splinters a man will gather trying to get away from nails. It takes several seasoned soldiers to hold down a man determined not to die.
“My man, the man in the middle, the man who had been beaten and who had chunks of his beard pulled out, and who was wearing a crown of thorns sunken into his head, he laid down just so, just right, and stretched out his hands. He did not scream. He did not plead. He did not beg. He did not look away.”
“Seargent? Go on.”
“He watched. He watched the nails. He watched the hammer. He looked me in the eye.”
“He forgave me.”
“He did what?”
“He said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
“Has this ever happened before?”
“People being people did what people do. They mocked him. They cursed him. They dared him to come down, as if that was possible. No, my men and I are much better than average at securing a man in place. He wasn’t going anywhere. And he didn’t fight it. It was as if he was there on purpose. It was as if he had nowhere else he would rather be.
“The day wore on. This is a gruesome mess and takes too long most of the time. My men and I keep the crowds at bay. We entertain ourselves the best we can. The new guys gambled for the nice garment the man in the middle was leaving behind.
“This day was a day like no other. When the initial burst of shouts and screams and sobs finally grew quiet, one of the other men saw something in the man in the middle that gave him hope. He argued with the man on the other side for a moment. Then with the voice of a little boy he spoke to the one he called Jesus. He said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
“The boys and I turned toward each other with a smirk and a chuckle. Those men weren’t going anywhere but to the cemetery. That’s when the one called Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’
“I guess death is most welcome when you find yourself dying on a cross. I guess death would feel like paradise in comparison. But the way his words felt, you could tell it wasn’t death he was talking about. It was like, I don’t know, life, a better life than any of us have ever known was on his mind.
“The man in the middle, Jesus, agonized with the others, but it was an exquisite agony.
“Then it got dark. Very dark. Too dark to see dark. I don’t know how or why, but, again, it was as if it was on purpose.”
“Let’s wrap this up. How did it all end?”
“I’m not sure it did.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, it was if death was not the end. I know, it sounds crazy. It’s just that, this was different. Different from every other man I have ever watched die.”
“He said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
“And then he died?”
“There was one final statement. He practically shouted it, at least as best as he could in his extreme dehydration. He declared, ‘It is finished!’ If there is such a thing as famous last words, those were them.
“He gave up the ghost. He was gone. He was dead. It was as if his work was done. He laid down everything.”
“This man’s death has really moved you, Seargent. Are you becoming too soft for this job?”
“I am not soft. I am a soldier of Rome. I am loyal to Caesar. But this man? This man died like a god. I’m sorry, but I’ve got to say it. Surely this man was the Son of God!”
I will remember the old rugged cross.
Our Father, you loved us so supremely that you gave your one and only son to die on that cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to remove the barriers preventing us from coming into your presence. Your love took the initiative. Your love completed the task. Your love led to the scourge, the cross, and the grave. Your love went the distance. Your love never fails. Your love saves all who see it and receive it. Hallelujah! Amen.
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Daily D – Psalm 143:8-10
Psalm 143:8-10 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Daily D – Psalm 142:5
Psalm 142:5 Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.”
Daily D – Ezra 3:11-13
Ezra 3:11-13 With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
Daily D – 2 Chronicles 35:22-25
2 Chronicles 35:22-25 After Josiah had finished restoring the Temple, King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and Josiah and his army marched out to fight him. But King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message: “What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back. Instead, he disguised himself and led his army into battle on the plain of Megiddo. But the enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him. He cried out to his men, “Take me from the battle, for I am badly wounded!”
Daily D – 2 Chronicles 32:31
2 Chronicles 32:31 However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.