All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil (Luke 23:48-49, The Message).
What did the crowds see that caused them so much grief? Wasn’t this the same man about whom the crowds were shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” just a few hours before? It seems like they would have been pleased to see Him die. But instead they went home, “beating their breasts (ESV).”
Imagine yourself there…in complete (inexplicable) darkness – with rumors circulating that the 4-inch-thick veil that guarded the Holy of Holies in the Temple had split in two. Impossible. That was impossible. And then your eyes would look on the man and you would know – just know that this man must have been innocent. And then the centurion said what you were thinking, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And hearing the words said aloud – you realize that they are absolutely, and horribly – true. And you think, “I have just killed an innocent man.”
I have just killed an innocent man. You don’t have to be a bystander in the crowd watching the crucifixion to relate to that statement. It’s true for all of us. Jesus died in the sinner’s place. Jesus died because of me. It’s a sobering fact. One that should be life changing…