Matthew 27:54

Saturday, April 8
Rev. Frank C. Senn

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

On what basis could the Roman centurion make this claim? How would he even know how to make this connection between Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had just crucified, and God’s Son? Had he heard claims from bystanders? And then there was the earthquake and the dead coming out of their tombs  that Matthew reports. Apparently, there were tombs nearby, since Jesus would be laid to rest in one. For ancient people natural as well as supernatural events were signs to be read for divine activity.

What signs do we have that affirm Jesus’ identity as God’s Son? Might it be through the prayers of faith uttered by us or others? The so-called “Jesus Prayer” is regularly used by Eastern Christians. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It can be used for all sorts of situations. The desert fathers and mothers taught that this short prayer is a summary of the gospel and that it should be prayed continually according to St. Paul’s admonition to “pray ceaselessly.” Praying puts us in communion with God. The faithful have experienced the blessings of God, blessings of forgiveness, joy, and peace, from prayer. Is the experience of receiving these blessings a sign that prayer to Jesus is effective, and that Jesus is truly the “Son of God”?

We all need a reason for making a faith statement such as the Roman centurion made. As we come to the end of our Lenten encounters with Christ, what can we affirm about Jesus the Christ? We don’t discount dogma, what we have been taught. But we make our confession of faith on the basis of what we have seen or experienced. “Truly this man was (is!) God’s Son.”

Pray today the Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.    

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