In Mark 15:39b, the Centurion at the foot of the cross, hears Jesus say with a loud cry, with his last breath, “It is finished,” thus exclaiming the victory won. He is moved to say, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” At this moment, this Centurion perceives Jesus, “true man,” to be “true God”. The paradox and tension central to our faith is most clearly perceived in this moment at the cross.
A paradox is a statement that “seems to say opposite things and yet is perhaps true. (Merriam-Webster)” Our minds tell us that God cannot die and yet it appears that Jesus does. We who know the rest of the story know that Jesus conquered death, walked through death to eternal life showing that the love of God is not defeated by death but walks through death with us to eternal life.
Science has taken much of the mystery out of the paradoxes of life we experience. A caterpillar crawling on a branch will become a butterfly. A baby does grow from a small egg and sperm. It is possible to be very angry with a child we love very much. It is possible that a job loss leads to the decision to change professions that is a wise move – the loss leads to gain.
The centurion sees God in Christ’s death. What do we see? The impossible? A sacrifice for our sins? A defeat of death? Perhaps it is all of these. We would affirm with the apostle Paul in the book of Romans 8:36,
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The paradox also is that when Jesus feels most forsaken, God is present loving. It seems contradictory and impossible. When we feel the most forlorn, God is right there loving us, holding us, and listening. Nothing can separate us from his love. May this eternal truth stay with us as we experience the paradoxes and struggles of life today.