Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. Matthew 27:54 (KJV)
And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. Mark 15:39 (KJV)
Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. Luke 23:47 (KJV)
This month has been a study in the details of the last hours of Jesus earthly life. What is missing in the gospel accounts is as important as what is included. Each writer’s emphasis speaks of the work of Christ in their lives and is evidence of how we can see the exact same events and come away with such different perspectives and yet, arrive at the same conclusion. This happens to me all the time! I see things TOTALLY different from my closest family and friends. (Like I see James the writer of the book of James as kind and compassionate and tenderly speaking to us as believers of how our actions are impacting others and my sister in Christ, Freda, thinks I have lost my mind! But we both know if we live as James writes we should, we would be living as Christ lived.) Our current heart condition and our spiritual gifts greatly affect our reading of the Word. You can see this in this blog as Freda and I will unbeknownst to each other tackle the same scripture and the result is a more comprehensive understanding of what the Holy Spirit is conveying. Thank you, Jesus!
The centurion saw much this day not normal at a crucifixion. This day was like any other in the beginning. Hardened by so many crucifixions, he and the other soldiers were numb to the pain, emotions, and verbalizations going on around them. They were “just doing their job.” But as the hours wore on, things began to change. This “criminal” in the middle was different. He did not curse them. He spoke kindly to the other thieves, He made arrangements for His mother’s care, He cried out for His Father, He had a look of love in His eyes even for those causing Him great pain.
He died way too early; like He was somehow in control of His own breath and suffering. The earth and sky seem to grieve and become angry when He died.
Slowly, the numbness of this soldier’s job crumbled into an eye opening and heart rending explosion of what he was witnessing. Suddenly, the stories of this man and all He had been doing and saying throughout Judea came to his remembrance. The puzzle pieces began to fall into place. He no doubt had heard the tale of the centurion whose servant Jesus had healed. (Luke 7:1-10, Matthew 8:5-13) News spreads fast in a barracks of soldiers. He had likely heard Pontius Pilate’s question: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” and Jesus response to him: “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it to thee? My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not hence. Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (Luke 18:34-37)
This Roman, a hard core, tough as nails, afraid of nothing and no one, soldier is turned into a man with a softened heart and his heart recognizes Jesus for who He really is: The Son of the Living God, a righteous man. He stands at the foot of the cross awed by this naked, shadow of a man and He knows He has witnessed the saving of his own soul. Luke says “he glorified God.” Did he humbly bow before the King of kings? I believe he could do nothing else.
Was this the last crucifixion this soldier participated in? Did he trade his Roman armor for the armor of God? Did he go to find the centurion whose servant had been healed? These and a thousand other details are not shared with us. We were given all we need to know: Jesus impacted EVERYONE and EVERYTHING in His death.
All the soldiers at the foot of the cross saw these same events. Today, you through His Word are standing in the same place–the foot of the cross. What do you see? May we know “Truly this IS the Son of God.”
Chris Tomlin –Jesus Messiah
Treading in forgiveness,
Dedicated to my officer and gentleman……..only God could love you more. Happy anniversary in Heaven.