Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Friday, January 17, 2014

Don't Wait...

I got in my Janathon workout this morning, but it wasn't a run. This Sunday is the Louisiana Marathon and yesterday's 6 mile run was my last until the race. Once again, though, my commitment to Janathon to work out and blog about it every day must be upheld.

So I did a few pushups this morning, some ab exercises, and a few curls with the dumbbells. I know it's not a lot, but I do have an 8 hour drive tomorrow, then a 26.2 mile run on Sunday. So hopefully folks understand that a light workout just might have been in order today. Anyway, I'm thinking I'll likely do the exact same workout in the morning before we leave to satisfy tomorrow's requirements.

You might have noticed that I try to tie every day's message in these posts to the workout I did that day. But today's going to be a little different. Everyday I read a chapter in the Bible. For the most part, I start a book of the Bible and read one chapter of it each day until I finish it. I choose one verse or a short passage from that day's study, a verse or passage that stands out or especially speaks to me, and post in on Facebook and Twitter. But rarely do these verses from my daily Bible study relate to my posts here.

Today's verse didn't really relate to my morning workout either, but it stood out so starkly that I decided to write today's message around it. You see, I've read this verse many times, even heard it read in sermons or Sunday school lessons. I didn't know exactly where it was in the Bible, but I knew of this verse, this part of the story Jesus' death. Today, though, it struck me differently. Today, for the first time, I really felt that I was hearing what this verse was telling me.
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” ~ Mark 15:39

All the times I read this verse before, I just read it as a part of the story. Just a line added to the narrative describing the very end of the life of Jesus on this earth. That all changed today and I was so struck at how many times I've glossed over something so important.

This Roman soldier never believed Jesus was the Son of God until the very end. It was 3 o'clock in the afternoon when Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed His last. The sky had been dark for three hours. In Matthew's account of Christ's death, he describes a great earthquake, tombs opening, and holy people being raised from the dead when Jesus died. Can you imagine the fear that everyone who saw these sights felt?

When all these events occurred as the centurion watched Jesus die, this hard core Roman soldier was forced to recognize Jesus Christ for who He was, the Son of God, the Messiah, Emmanuel.

Only hours before, this soldier was likely one of those who stripped Jesus and clothed Him in purple to mock Him. The centurion was likely one of those present when the crown of thorns was set upon His head. This warrior was most likely one of those who marched Jesus up the hill to be crucified. And this battle-hardened man had likely taken part in the casting of lots for Jesus' clothes when they hung Him on the cross.

Until that frightful moment when Jesus died, the centurion refused to believe that Christ was the Son of God. But in that instant, he was forced to admit the truth, that that was exactly who Jesus was, the Son of God.

It wasn't really the change in the Roman soldier's heart that struck me today, but the fact that each and every person who refuses to believe will one day be forced to admit the very same. Every knee will one day bow before Jesus Christ at the seat of judgment. Every. Single. Person.

The believer will bow before the Lord. The nonbeliever will bow at the very same throne before the very same judge, Jesus Christ. And whether you believed on earth or didn't, at that moment, at His feet, in the presence of all His glory, you will be forced to admit that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. You will be forced to admit that He is the One True Path to Heaven. Not one person will spend eternity wondering if Jesus is real, if He is who He said He is.

It dawned on me when I read this verse today how horrible that realization will be for those who didn't believe on earth. For them, it will be too late. He promised us that all who believe in Him will be saved. But so many refuse to believe. So many choose to pursue the temporary pleasures of this life instead of the eternal peace He offers.

Jesus Christ came to this earth to live, to teach, to suffer, and die so that our sins might be forgiven and to open the door for us to enter into Heaven for eternity. If we only believe.

I hope and pray for everyone reading this. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, share your faith, tell everyone you know what Christ did for you, encourage them to join you as a believer, a follower, a partaker of the gift of eternal life. If you're reading this and you don't believe, I pray that your eyes will be opened so that you see, your ears opened so that you hear, and your heart softened so that you will accept the truth that Roman soldier was forced to face on that day 2000 years ago.

Romans 10:9 says that if you declare with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, and was raised from the dead, that you will be saved. Please don't be one of those who is forced to face this fact when it's too late, when you are kneeling before Christ.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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