“When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened,
he worshiped God and said, ‘Surely this man was innocent.’”
Luke 23:47 (NLT)
Grace changes everything! Creation itself responded first to the Creator’s cry from Calvary! The Bible records four catastrophic physical events that occurred when Jesus was dying on the cross. The first was three hours of eerie darkness that covered the land from noon until 3pm. The second occurred in the Temple when the veil of the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn from top to bottom! Think of it. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” redemption’s price had been paid in full! There was no other sacrifice needed to make atonement for the sins of men! No need for the old sacrificial system! No need for a High Priest to make confession. Jesus is our High Priest, and He paid for our redemption on the Cross with His own sacrifice! Now anyone could approach the throne of God boldly through Christ! Amazing! Grace changes everything! It would be a New Covenant in His blood shed for the remission of sins! The third catastrophic event was an earthquake. The rocks split apart and the Bible records a final, supernatural phenomena – the bodies of holy people were raised from their graves and would appear in Jerusalem to many following Jesus’ resurrection.
“Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT)
Imagine being the groundskeeper at that cemetery. Beyond these four catastrophic events are two remaining supernatural expressions of the power of grace! Only Luke records both. “When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, ‘Surely this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.” Luke 23:47-48 (NLT) Remember, these were the very ones who had previously mocked Jesus. They had spat upon Him, cruelly celebrating the merciless abuse the Roman soldiers were inflicting on Him. These were the soldiers who gambled for His clothing as He offered them forgiveness. What happened? For six hours they had seen and heard all that was happening while Jesus was dying on the cross. The soldier and the crowd were deeply moved with what they saw. His death did what even His life could not do. It broke the hard hearts of men. Already Jesus’ saying was coming true – “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32 (NIV)
Grace changes everything!