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Daily Devotional | God with us: The Gospel of Matthew | Man fishing with a net. Daily Devotional | God with us: The Gospel of Matthew | Man fishing with a net.

Daily Devotional | God’s Presence at the Cross

We have all seen grisly scenes on the news, whether it be the aftermath of natural disaster or the savage effects of war. It is even more impactful when you witness a tragic event with your own eyes, such as a horrific car crash. In either case a rush of empathy, compassion, and a sense of deep, sorrowful connection overwhelms you.

Imagine the profound reaction of those present at the crucifixion of Jesus. Witnessing this event no doubt shook onlookers to the core, leaving them both numb and awestruck. Matthew records one such reaction of the Roman centurion. In the face of Jesus’ death, the man was struck by God’s presence, leading him and others present to declare, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (v. 54).

At the cross, God’s presence was both obscured and powerfully revealed. It was obscured in the darkness and in Jesus’ cry of abandonment. Verse 45 says that “darkness came over all the land.” At the same time, it was revealed in the earth-shaking events that followed Jesus’ last breath when “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open” (v. 51). It was also seen in the transformative impact of Jesus’ death on those who witnessed it (v. 54).

The crucifixion narrative in Matthew 27:45–55 isn’t easy to process, but it bears a potent truth about God’s presence. God is there even during the deepest darkness and the most excruciating pain. As we contemplate the cross today and the powerful events surrounding Jesus’ death, let us be awestruck by God’s profound love and presence. May this reverence move us to declare, like the centurion did, our faith in God.

Go Deeper

What did the Roman centurion declare about Jesus? Why did he say what he did? What things led you to declare that Jesus is the Son of God?

Pray with Us: We are in awe of the powerful revelation of Your presence at the Cross! “When I survey the wondrous cross,/On which the Prince of glory died,/My richest gain I count but loss,/And pour contempt on all my pride.” (Isaac Watts, 1707)

BY James Coakley

Dr. Jim Coakleyis professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute. He earned his BA in Pastoral Studies from Calvary Bible College, his M.Div. and Th.M. in Old Testament from Grace Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Covenant Theological Seminary. Jim is the author of 14 Fresh Ways to Enjoy the Bible (Moody Publishers). He and his wife, Gayle, live in the western suburbs of Chicago and have two adult children and three grandchildren. 

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