“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to bottom. And when the centurion who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the son of God!” Mark 15:37-39
What was it about that cry? In Peter Marshall’s famous sermon, “The Paradox of Salvation”, he says:
“Suddenly Jesus opened His eyes and gave a loud cry.
The gladness in His voice startled all who heard it, for it sounded like a shout of victory:
‘It is finished. Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.’
And with that cry He died.
I wonder about that cry. Something about it reached into the heart of the most calloused man. The man responsible for Jesus’ torture, humiliation, and execution. The man who put his stamp of approval on everything. The man who killed people for a living on an ongoing basis.
I have to wonder.
This centurion was used to seeing people die. He was a merciful man in his own eyes and offered every criminal drugged wine similar to anesthetic to take the edge off of the pain. However, Jesus, who should have been dead from the flogging, did not take any drug at any time. He was really super human in his ability to take pain.
And there was no cursing. Although the thieves on either side vomited profanity freely, Jesus was strangely quiet and docile in his pain. Jesus seemed more like a lamb who was gently following his master to be slain for the Passover feast, and not like the caged lion fighting to retain his kingly domain.
Why would such a man, with growing power and prestige, not negotiate with the popularity-hungry Pilate when he received a private audience? Did he not know that Pilate needed an edge with the people? And Jesus was much more popular than the Jewish leaders.
Did Jesus not know that all he had to do was become Pilate’s personal physician or healer? Did Jesus not know that Pilate was wanting to negotiate and that Jesus could have gotten rid of the Sanhedrin once and for all if he was shrewd in his behind the scenes discussions with Pilate.
A king like this was not a person that the centurion could understand.
And when total failure should have broken this man’s heart, the cry and the way he died was so surreal, so heavenly, that the centurion took note in awe that truly this man was God’s Son.
Is it because Jesus took such torture? Or is it because he bore no malice towards the centurion. Is it because he offered forgiveness to his torturers while they were still stripping him bare and gambling for his clothing? Is it because he did not curse God and man? Is it because he did not work miracles to save himself although everyone knew he could?
Is it because of the peace and resignation to God’s purpose that reflected in those liquid eyes as time oozed by like the blood dripping from His side?
I have to wonder if Jesus, who could see all things saw the angels in position over at the temple. Ready to tear the curtain that was as thick as a the thickest metropolitan phone book.
It was torn from top to bottom. From heaven to man an opening was to be made. These angels were ready to open up the very holy of holies itself to the common man who accepted His sacrifice. A place which previously, God would kill the priest who went in unprepared, God would allow anyone with His mark to enter.
And when he saw those angels in position, ready to erase the dividing line forever, Jesus knew that he was not entering defeat but victory and paradise and consummation of the very will of God and purpose for his life.
Jesus’ cry though it may have been of anguish was also one of victory! It could have been a “yahoo” of sorts. A definitive claim that “I have done something amazing that will bring joy to those who were weeping.” A declaration of joy and hope that reverberates through the ages.
You see, I can only think of it as a cry of anguish and pain because that is the human side of me. That is what I’d do, although I could not have born a millisecond of his torture. But Jesus Christ was fully human and fully God.
His cry made a difference. His cry was different. His cry was enough of a testimony to God’s divine plan and Jesus’ divine part that it converted the soul of the centurion who stood by.
What was it about that cry?
All I know is that when we enter into death our one appointed time, we also enter into victory for eternity. Though we are but a vapor we do not evaporate. There is a part of us that transcends the mortal and embarks on the immortal journey. The journey paved for us by a Savior that bore our punishment.
The pathway to this journey, was opened with a cry. The celestial ribbon cutting of the eternal pathway of reconciliation of God with his creation. What a great moment! The moment of redemption’s victory!
Because it was finished, for you and I, life has only begun!
I cry with humility, gratitude, and hope. My Savior gave the battle cry of victory because He knew the magnitude of what He had done. I am still just comprehending it!