Through The Eyes Of A Centurion
46 “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, ‘Certainly this was a righteous Man!’” Luke 23:46-47 NKJV
The day of Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, scourging, and crucifixion conclude with Jesus committing His Spirit into the hands of Father God and then breathing His last. So much had happened that day and this centurion had witnessed and participated in a lot of it. Being a centurion he had seen and participated in the beating of people before and he surely was assigned the cruel task of crucifying others before this day. Yet this day was different, powerfully different. The things that he witnessed and participated in that led to this death on a cross impacted him in such a way that this hardened soldier himself observed that this Jesus most certainly was a righteous man. In Matthew’s account of this, we see the centurion saying “Truly this was the Son of God!”
What happened on that day that so moved this military man to makes such an insightful and true observation? Consider what he witnessed. In Luke’s account of the crucifixion, we are told that for three hours during His crucifixion there was darkness over the earth. During the day to have darkness come upon the whole of the earth is obviously something supernatural. The darkness would be a darkness from the light of Jesus (who is light), dying and leaving this earth. So you can guess this would not be like a hazy darkness of cloud cover or even the partial darkness of an eclipse. This would have been an abject darkness that brought terror with it because the light was gone.
Matthew tells us that the earth itself quaked at the death of Jesus and rock was split, the graves were opened and those who had been dead rose to life. We also know that at Jesus’ death the veil of the Temple was torn top to bottom. While the centurion would not have been aware of this you get the clear sense that he is surrounded by evidence of the supernatural resulting from this man’s death. Matthew goes on to tell us that even the crowd gathered there to beat their breasts in awareness of what they had just experienced as being supernatural.
This professional soldier, a leader of other soldiers, who was trained to show no emotions, was so moved by all that he has seen and by the final words spoken from the mouth of Jesus that he gave testimony of who Jesus was, the Son of God.
What do we see as we reflect on The Son of God dying in our place upon a cross of shame? On this Resurrection Sunday are we moved with the same passionate emotion for what Jesus did as this soldier was? What testimony are we giving to others regarding this Jesus that we know as a risen victorious Savior? Offer the world your impassioned testimony of who you know Jesus to be and what you have seen in Jesus in your life.
J Todd Hostetler