“Truly this man was God’s Son.” A Roman soldier, a peace enforcer, not a peacemaker, says these words. Does he know what he’s saying? Does he mean it? He could be next up on a cross if someone reports him to Rome. Caesar and, NO OTHER, is God’s Son for him. Jesus is not his people. Is he changing sides?
Do you find yourself in this drama? That determines what you’ll hear and what this story does to you. Maybe you sometimes are like Peter, denying friendship by living as if Jesus doesn’t exist. Maybe as a bystander – you watch proceedings without choosing sides. You come to church, but you remain on the sidelines. Are you the curious and your tipping point: “If he gets off this cross, then I’m for him?” Could you be like a religious leader, who fails to think God would endorse someone outside the lines they draw? A Centurion gets it. Are you like him? But magi, shepherds and even demons know who Jesus is. So, who is Jesus for you?
Our advantage – we know Easter comes. Jesus doesn’t stay down. He returns to the shock of his friends. Are you enough a friend of Jesus he’d appear to you, too?
Maybe a better question is: “Would you recognize him?” What would it take? Believing enough, knowing enough, caring enough – I know some of you cross your fingers at certain places when you say the Creed. Good news! It’s not about any of that. Jesus once said flesh and blood don’t reveal him, only God does. There you are. He recognizes us as the very people he’s come to love and save. He gets us before we get him. That is what matters. Lifted up on a cross, he draws the world, through divine love and forgiveness – unity not duality.
A sword-swinging, violent warrior humbly confesses what he sees: “Truly this man was God’s Son.” Flesh and blood didn’t get him there. Suffering, pain, humiliation, ridicule, rejection, denial, failure – these are the places God’s love is most fully known in this world. Who are you in this story? Sing and listen closely to the words. (Hymn: My song is love unknown concludes the meditation)