Lessons for a Centurion


“Surely he was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:54

The above quote is from the Gospel of Matthew. It is a simple quote, only 7 words, but the depth of the statement has sounded through-out history. It transcends time and is forever resonating in all times.

Last night I read this passage, and for the first time it struck me how much is stated in only a few simple words. Let set the scene:

Jesus is on Calvary, he is nailed to the cross, suffering and near death. All his friends have run off, abandon Him in His time of need, save a few, Mary, his mother, John, the beloved and Mary Magdalene along with Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Mostly the woman in Jesus life are there to comfort him. His crucifixion is a mockery of justice and the roman centurions are making light of it by casting lots for His few earthly belongings. On either side of Him are criminals, one mocking Him, the other asking for forgiveness.

The moment of death arrives, and Jesus offers up His sacrifice, His life for our sins. Most continue to mock but one, the centurion, He feels something, sees something that the others do not, he is moved by a the winds that whip around this place of death, this place of the sculls, Golgotha. The spirit of God descends upon him as the last breath is exhausted from our savior.

Jesus cry’s out it is done and the loan centurion cry’s out it has begun.

A chilling moment for sure. One that I ma sure had a profound effect on all who were there. For some it was shame and guilt, for others it was satisfaction and yet others one of loss. Our centurion, the first convert to the faith, he, I am sure, felt all of the above emotions and more.

Shame for what he has done, for his participation in the crucifixion of the Son of God. Guilt in his understanding of who Jesus was, he was too late to save Him, his conversion was post-mortem. His satisfaction in knowing his life will be forever changed and his sense of loss for not seeing Jesus for who he was when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem as a free man.

How many of us are like that centurion, we always seem to come to it, what ever it may be, late. We come to our understanding of forgiveness after we have suffered loss. Loss of a friendship or a loved one. We come to our shame and guilt after the act, what ever act it may be, is completed and we feel the loss when utter despair has set in.

The emotions of Calvary are played out daily in our lives, they are part of our personal, family and faith life. And we too, like the centurion, often times have our conversion once the death has taken place.

But like the centurion, we too can feel a great joy in our hearts knowing that all is not lost. Knowing that Jesus has died so that me may live. Knowing that forgiveness is always there, all we have to do is ask. And knowing that the things of this world are nothing without the King of this world, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

We too can feel the winds that whip around this place of death, this place of the sculls, Golgotha. The spirit of God descends upon us as the last breath is exhausted from our savior. For this last breath is a timeless breath, one that is exhausted for us for all times…

God Bless

Paul

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