"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The Roman Centurion - It's Kind of a Big Deal
This tradition of worshipping ancient rulers as divine was not new--think of Nebuchadnezzar's demands on Daniel while in Babylon--but the Romans granted the god-like status only to those that had truly done great deeds. Caesar was one of the greats in their eyes and would be recognized as the great god Caesar forevermore.
Fast forward to Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, who conveniently took the name Augustus Caesar. In 27 BC, Augustus became Rome's first Emperor after an extended time of shared military dictatorships with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus. One of the first acts of Augustus was to ensure that he would be recognized as 'Augustus Caesar - Son of God.' There is reference to Augustus throughout this period as "A.C., Son of God," and "Divine Son of God." He even had a temple erected to "Augustus, the First Born of God." Augustus reigned until 14 AD.
I know that is a lot of background, but to truly comprehend the implication of Mark 15:39, it's important to understand the significance of the historical context. In Mark's Gospel we see the authority and the divinity of Christ. The theme that Jesus is the Son of God, is found throughout. In Mark 1:1, we open with "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Then again in Mark 8:29, we find a discussion between Jesus and disciples around who others think He is. Peter responds with "you are the Christ, the Messiah," in essence, the Son of God.
Finally, we go to the foot of the cross. There stands a Roman Centurion. A respected leader of some 100 soldiers, with most likely 10+ years of service in the Roman Imperial Army. A military captain who would have made hundreds of vows to Rome, the current Emperor Tiberius and to god and the son of god, Caesar and Augustus. These vows were serious, and pledged him to a life of loyal service.
So, as this centurion goes about the task of overseeing yet another crucifixion, of a despised Jew, no less, he is about to be changed forever. In Mark 15:39 we read, "and the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."
Just think about that for a while.