Summary: The cross affected a great number of people. Most of whom were obvious. But its most profound impact was on the not so obvious.
About 3 years ago Connie and I attended a family reunion in Roswell, N.M. We had a good time but one thing sticks out in my mind about that reunion. It was a side trip we took to see a musical about some of the folklore surrounding the Roswell area. The story is told that in or around 1947 Roswell was visited by something not of this world, something alien. They have made movies and television shows about that day and now Roswell citizens have the opportunity to tell in their own words what they think happened when they were visited by something not of this world. All through the musical performers can be heard singing, “There’s something in the air” as they look heavenward.
Isn’t that what you and I are often heard saying this time of the year. I hear folks say, “Spring is in the air”. Springtime comes and it always ushers in the Easter holidays and finally Easter Sunday. For some reason we have a desire to do things that we don’t normally do. For instance more people attend churches across America on Easter Sunday than any other Sunday of the year. Could it be because there’s something in the air? Could it be that on this day we are so vividly reminded that because Jesus was in the air suspended between heaven and earth on an old rugged cross that we are offered forgiveness of sin? Jesus reminds us of this in His Word.
John 12:32 (NKJV)
32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." NKJV
The NLT renders it this way
32 And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself." NLT
But dear friends the startling reality is this. Some people find it easier to believe that we were visited by aliens from another planet when there is no credible evidence that we ever were than they that believe that we were visited by a loving, caring Savior that died for the sins of mankind when there is ample evidence available to support that He did just that.
There is something in the air this morning. Can you feel it? Do you believe in Easter? I mean the real Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Have you ever stopped to think about what it really means?
WHAT IT MEANT THEN
Lets begin by not looking at the obvious but instead let’s look at how it affected those that are not so obvious.
I. THE CENTURION. Matthew 27:54
A. He was like a lot of people gathered there that day. He’s like a lot of people that are gathered here today. He had heard about Jesus but he didn’t really know who He was.
B. He had probably heard all the pros and cons surrounding Jesus.
1. Some said He was the Son of God.
2. While others contended that he was nothing more than a mere man, doing miracles by the power of Satan therefore committing the sin of blasphemy.
3. He had heard some say this man named Jesus deserved to live and yet others say He deserved to die.
4. He had heard the crowds yell, “Crucify Him”.
5. Why wouldn’t someone stand up and plead for His life?
6. Why were all of His disciples standing so far away?
7. Why would they not speak up when He needed them the most?
C. Finally after taking everything in. After watching this innocent man endure torture at the hands of his own men he stood at the foot of the cross and stared into the eyes of the Savior.
1. He watched Him endure without one word of criticism.
2. In fact he heard Him pray “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
3. He saw the sky turn to darkness. He felt the earthquake. He heard Jesus say, “It is finished”.
4. He could contain himself no longer and as fear and emotion gripped him he said in the presence of all those around him, “Truly this was the Son of God”.
D. How did it affect him? Tradition (that is history) tells that this centurion went by the name of Longinus.
1. It goes on to say that because of what happened that day he left the military and became a devoted follower of Christ.
2. He preached the gospel and eventually died a martyr’s death for the cause of Christ.
E. What have you done for Christ today?
II. JOSEPH OF ARIMETHEA. Matthew 27:57-60
A. He was like a lot of people gathered there that day. He is like a lot of people gathered here today. He knew Jesus as Savior but was afraid to let anybody else know he was a Christian.