The Synoptics summarize the response of various groups at Calvary while Jesus died. Consider three of them.
The Centurion, a Roman soldier doing his duty but offering Jesus the supreme compliment: “Righteous man”, or “Son of God”. That directly rebutted the Sanhedrin’s claim that Jesus served as Satan’s hireling. As importantly, whether a believer in Jehovah, or a heathen, the centurion served in the Jewish culture that stressed Jehovah as the One God. Remember that the leaders had strutted before the cross, saying, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Matthew 27:40. Therefore, the Centurion believed Jesus died as the Son of God.
The Unbelievers, who came to watch Jesus die. To see a spectacle. Like hangings in the American West, when hundreds of spectators drove for miles to see criminals plunge and dangle. After which they returned to their normal lives.
However, something more occurred with these people at Calvary. Beating their breasts symbolized the terrible guilt and sympathy they felt. It declared Christ innocent of the charges leveled by the Sanhedrin. It said Jesus was crucified unjustly. It said he was too good a man to die at all so young and too infinitely good to die by crucifixion.
Still, they simply carried their guilt and shame by going back into the city. They didn’t seek to understand God’s purpose in the crucifixion.
The Disciples, including the women who stood at a distance and watched. To them it wasn’t a spectacle. To them, seeing Jesus crucified meant a catastrophe, devastating all they believed and hoped to see. With Jesus dead, those believers thought they would never smile or laugh again.
These, and more responses, exist to the Savior’s sacrifice. People see Jesus as a good man, even as God’s Son, but yield no personal commitment to him. Many others see the injustice of having him die by crucifixion, but don’t care that he was MORE than it seemed. Only believers in Jesus as God’s Son understand that God fulfilled his plan of forgiving sin by having Jesus die on the cross. Where are you in your opinion?
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Apologetics book: Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1
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