The centurion, knowing the nature of the charge against Jesus, looks on in awe and amazement and declares — “So he really was Son of God, after all.” Two days later, of course, God is going to declare, powerfully, that Jesus really was innocent, really was Son of God. But if we understand the cross we can see that, to the eye of faith, the evidence is already there. Because on the cross we see a love which is none other than God’s own love. Only God loves like that. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” But on the cross there was a greater love nailed up in public, when God gave his life for his enemies. We cannot understand the cross unless we understand the incarnation, and vice versa. As St Paul put it — God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. The words that Jesus himself spoke at supper on the night he was betrayed are, as it were, magnified into the words that God himself says, not with speech but with action, on the first Good Friday: “This is my body, broken for you.”

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