Presentation on theme: "Matthew 27:54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening,"— Presentation transcript:
Matthew 27:54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
When in Jerusalem, do as the Romans do? “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” The proverb has evolved over time, basically saying that one should adapt to the culture where one is located (while not compromising moral or spiritual principles, of course) Ambrose ( ), wrote to Augustine ( ): Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi ('When you are in Rome live in the Roman style; when you are elsewhere live as they live elsewhere')
The principle in the New Testament The apostle Paul makes a statement consistent with the principle of this proverb as he writes to the believers in Corinth, with the motivation being to convey the gospel without any “artificial” hindrance The Apostle Paul in Rome (one artist’s concept)
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
A dark night before a dark day The Jewish leaders had spent the night “capturing” & condemning Jesus But they preferred, that the Romans do the dirty work of getting this troublesome Jesus out of their way Courtyard of what is thought to have been Caiaphas’ house – here Peter would deny that he even knew Jesus
A dark night before a dark day So the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to have him give official sanction to their condemnation of Jesus & to do what the Romans did so well - crucifixion
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor in Judea from 26 to 36 AD He ruled from Antonia Fortress, which was located next to the temple in Jerusalem Pilate even asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Pontius Pilate four times said of Jesus, “I find no guilt in this man.” (John 18:38; 19:4,6,22) & tried to free him (John 19:13) Should we do like this Roman?
He found that Jesus had done nothing wrong, & tried to pass the matter onto Herod… Against the advice of his own wife, he bowed to pressure & ordered Jesus flogged & crucified He also ordered a sign (epigraphon) to be placed over Jesus’ head, “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19), which was Pilate’s version of the legal charge against Christ Should we do like this Roman?
Should we do like these Romans? Once Pilate handed down the sentence, the Roman soldiers took over their routine duties Playing cruel games, they mocked, struck, & spat on Jesus, crowning Him with thorns They flogged Him severely, as usual Then, as usual, they had Him carry His own cross-piece until He was unable to do so Himself, then they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry it for Him
Should we do like these Romans? Quintilian ( AD), a Roman rhetoretician, wrote, “Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear.” Both Roman & Jewish law required that the crucifixion take place outside the city gates
Should we do like these Romans? At about 9 AM the soldiers drove the nails into Jesus’ wrists & feet, as they did with the others - condemned criminals - placed on crosses on each side of Him Crucifixion (stauroō) was Rome’s cruelest punishment – reserved for the worst of the worst criminals & the lowest levels of society
Should we do like these Romans? As they always did, they cast lots for Jesus’ singular garment – to see who would get the meager spoils Scripture records that there were four soldiers, one of them a centurion From there, they had little left to do, but to remain at the crucifixion site to make sure that nobody made any attempts at a rescue of any of those who had been crucified
Should we do like these Romans? Then some things began to happen that were anything but routine From the sixth hour to the ninth hour (noon to 3 PM), a darkness fell on the land – most definitely not routine There was also, at some time during Christ’s crucifixion, an earthquake The way in which Jesus died - at about 3 PM - also got their attention…
John 19:30 He said, " It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Most who died of crucifixion took days to die, but Christ died within six hours of His crucifixion; Christ died after crying, “It is finished!”, not only would this have been understood as a final statement, but this was also an accounting term which was used to declare, “The debt has been paid!”
Mark 15:39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!“ Given that this was the same centurion quoted in Matthew 27:54, we see that all the unique events of that day had impacted him, & that He, along with the other soldiers, were convinced that Jesus’ claim, that He was indeed the Son of God, was actually true
Were Roman soldiers all pagan Romans through & through? Luke 3:14 – Some soldiers came to John the Baptist to ask him what they should do Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:2-10 – A centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant Acts 10:1-48 – Cornelius the centurion - well regarded by the Jews - is given a vision from the Lord & the gospel from Peter
What the Roman soldiers heard… These soldiers were likely there at the hearing before Pilate when they heard the Jews accuse Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God (John 19:7) The Roman soldiers had heard the Jews jeering at Jesus for His claim to be the Son of God, & the criminals being crucified with Christ joined in as well (Matthew 27:38-44)
Should we do like these Romans? The Jewish leaders expressed concern that Jesus’ body might be taken away by His disciples, so they requested of Pilate that a Roman guard be set at Jesus’ tomb Pilate granted that the tomb would be sealed with his seal & guarded by Roman soldiers Some have said these guards of the tomb were Jewish Temple guards, but…
Why the guards at the tomb were most likely Roman Guarding the tomb would likely have been outside the authority of the temple guard Why come to Pilate for orders if the Jews could just use their own temple guard & seal? “Guard” (koustodia, of Latin origin) was only used for this guard duty (Matthew 27:65,66; 28:11) In Matthew 28:11, the soldiers are concerned about Pilate finding out that they failed at watch
What the Roman guards at the tomb would have done The guards would have set the seal of the governor on the stone over the entry to the tomb & the adjacent bedrock, so that breaking the Roman governor’s seal would incur the death penalty
What the Roman guards at the tomb would have done The guards would have set the seal of the governor on the stone over the entry to the tomb & the adjacent bedrock, so that breaking the Roman governor’s seal would incur the death penalty They would have set guards in shifts, being at least four guards & possibly more A failure of a guard at the tomb would result in a severe penalty, possibly death
Alright, so what happened next? The guards would have taken shifts, watching through Friday evening, all day Saturday, into the night, until early Sunday morning, when their routine would be radically interrupted…
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, & Salome arrive at the tomb They find the tomb open & empty & the Roman soldiers who were standing guard shaken to the point of immobility, overwhelmed by an angelic presence. Early Sunday morning…
While these women go to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen, the Roman soldiers just go…. Early Sunday morning…
When Christ’s resurrection did take place Rather than recognizing then reaching a spiritual conclusion, some of the soldiers then went to the Jewish leaders for political cover & some “hush money” – the other soldiers just ran These soldiers do not appear to be the same ones who crucified Jesus, saw Him die, & then recognized Him as the Son of God
So should we do as any of these Romans have done? The only Romans who recognized Christ for who He was were the very ones who had crucified Him They had forced Him to carry His cross until He could no longer do so They had driven the nails into Jesus’ hands & feet & watched Him die When all was said & done – in spite of what they had done – they recognized Christ for who He really was
We all now stand at a need to make the same recognition If you are not one who has recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God – that He died, was buried & rose again – to pay for your sins & give you new life, then there is no more important question before you
We all now stand at a need to make the same recognition If you are one who has already come to recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God, given for you, then that is eternally wonderful! It will take eternity to find out how wonderful that is! But our need to recognize Christ as the Son of God is not just once & final What the centurion did not know that day was that there were a great many others on that same cross that day
Romans 6:3, Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized [placed by immersion] into Christ Jesus have been baptized [placed by immersion] into His death? 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Between “the cross” & having “sat down” is Christ’s burial, resurrection & ascension