This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Matthew 27:54 ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’

This Week’s Focus Passage: Matthew 27:54

‘Truly this was the Son of God.’

    There are at least two great confessions from the lips of individuals to be found in the gospel narratives given us, and this attestation, found in our focus passage and ascribed to the centurion after that he had witnessed the convulsions that rocked the earth as the Lord of Glory ‘yielded up his spirit,’ (which convulsions perhaps even testifying with this soldier/witness) when he declared that, ‘Truly this was the Son of God,’ may constitute a third.

    Of course, the primary individual ‘confession’ is that of the Father Himself, God who cannot lie, when He testified at the baptism of Jesus, ‘This is my beloved Son, in [[ I am well pleased.’ These words of the Father were thundered from the heavens, and recorded for us by the Holy Spirit in the synoptic accounts of both our Savior’s baptism and His transfiguration. Is this not one of the major issues of contention discovered to us in these narratives? From the very beginning of His ministry, the Lord Jesus was assailed by those minions of Satan, the Pharisees, and the matter that stirred them up more than any other was that concerning the claim of Christ to His being the very Son of God. And was this not the great challenge of Satan to Christ, ‘If thou art the Son of God?’ Throughout the history of the Church, there have been those who have arisen that would dispute the deity of the Christ, that would contend against His Person as truly Man and truly God. It is noteworthy that Mark begins his gospel account with the statement, ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ We might even consider this to be Mark’s confession. ‘That which you are about to read and hear is not simply the gospel, the good news, but it is the good news concerning Jesus Christ, who just happens to be the very Son of God,’ might be a fair, albeit loose, paraphrase. ‘Because he made himself the Son of God’ is the often repeated charge made against our Lord by those inveterate of the true revelation of God in Christ. This essentially repeated by others, even to the end of our Savior’s earthly ministry, including even the words of the high priest of the ‘inquisition’ in Matthew 26:63, with that implication in his demand, ‘I adjure haYea, even accompanying the many remarkable expressions from the lips of the Lord of Glory as He poured out His soul unto death, were the vindictive words of those around the cross, ‘Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself; if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ It was therefore, virtually in opposition to the entire multitude—those that had so recently cried out, Crucify him, crucify him—that such a testimony as ‘truly this was the Son of God’ 

    Among the secondary testimonies (secondary to that of the Father), the first individual testimony was probably that of Simon Bar-Jonas, recorded in Matthew 16:16. It was Peter’s response to the well-known question of Jesus presented to His disciples, ‘But who say ye that I am?’ (The testimony given in Matthew 15:33, being not from a single individual, but from all ‘they that were in the boat’). Peter’s glorious declaration, revealed to him from the Father, was, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ This was truly a grand confession of the faith of the apostle, that faith being the very gift from the Father. ‘Flesh and blood’ does not reveal such good news to the sons of men, but only the Father is able to do so. This great confession contains the very heart of the gospel of salvation through Another. It testifies that the One of whom it speaks is the Christ; that is to say, the Messiah, the Anointed One promised from of old through all the prophets of God, the Righteous Branch, the Seed of David, who will arise with healing in His wings. He is my righteous Servant, God has said, a Child born of a virgin, and yet God Himself manifested in the flesh. This is indeed the same One spoken of by the prophet David (David…being therefore a prophet….Acts 2:30) where the pre-incarnate Christ declares, ‘Jehovah said unto me,Thou art my Son.’ Are we prepared to echo this confession to all around us, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Are we equipped to tell them that He is God manifest in the flesh, the Mystery of Godliness, that He is God’s answer to the plight of man; yea, He is the Gospel itself! Mary was told by the angel, ‘the holy child [man-child] which is begotten shall be called the Son of God.’ Yes, indeed, Begotten of God, yet born of man!

     There is, perhaps not surprisingly, great similarity between this confession of the apostle, Peter, and that of Martha, the sister of Lazarus, in John 11:27, ‘She saith unto Him [Christ], Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even he that cometh into the world.’ Why should this be at all surprising? After all, it is the testimony of just one more believer in Jesus Christ. She has believed the identical asseverations of which Peter believed, and coming from the lips of the same glorious Person. Should we anticipate any variance in these two testimonies?  Certainly not! They equally declared Jesus to be both the Son of God, as well as the Son of man. ‘For unto us [mankind] a child is born, unto us a Son is given,’ and yet, He shall be called, ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.’ Jesus, the man-child shall be rightly called the MIGHTY GOD, for He is the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh. As wonderful as are the testimonies of Peter and Martha, how exceeding grand is that of a Gentile soldier, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ This One with Pilate’s superscription fastened over His head, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, perhaps even having been fastened to the cross by this very centurion himself, is once more declared to be truly, ‘The Son of God.’ Is it possible that this centurion put his life on the line by uttering this testimony? Unlike Peter, whose testimony was made in the hearing of other disciples, and Martha’s was spoken into the ears of Christ, this man’s statement was made openly before the many that assisted in the crucifixion of the Lord. Is it not possible, that like some of those executioners of whom we read in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, receiving the witness uttered by those they were torturing and slaying, were themselves brought under the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit, forthwith confessing Christ with their lips knowing that they would soon follow those they had martyred? The word martyr means witness; are we ourselves ready to witness to the death that Jesus is the Son of God?

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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