Summary: The Centurion at the crucifixion was one of the closest witnesses to the death of Jesus – and he becomes the first convert confessing Jesus as the righteous Son of God.

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Luke 23:47

Our King Jesus Declared Righteous

Let’s start by putting ourselves at the foot of the cross.

You are the centurion who is responsible for overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus.

What sort of person are you?

You are a person with a real sense of justice.

That is what the Roman Empire prided itself on - bringing justice to the world. Law and order. Democracy.

There was a system of rights and protection. As a centurion you have proven you can protect those rights.

You are a person of deep spirituality.

Your own spiritual world-view is made up of many “gods” and you seek to appease them all. Apollo … and Hercules … Minerva. You knew the importance of worship so were comfortable allowing the conquered nations to follow their own “gods”. You serve Caesar the living “son of a god”.

You have been in Palestine a while.

You have seen battles and you have been on the front line. But now in Palestine it is more of a peace-keeping mission. So you have gotten to know the local customs and you have a bit an idea of the local religion. You can see the central place of worship, the Herodian Temple, from just about anywhere in the city.

Today you crucified a prisoner. A sign on the cross written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek identifies the condemned.

Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.

He doesn’t look like a king! He certainly has not been treated like a king.

Yet this “king” has caused an uproar today.

You watched with interest the way Pilate dealt with Him

Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent – yet Jesus has still been condemned. It was one of those times when justice gave way to mob-pressure.

But Jesus didn’t say a word of protest.

You watched as the guards have a bit of sport with the condemned man.

By the end of the process Jesus is a physical mess. Bloodied. Bruised. His face is distorted. His back was ripped open.

But Jesus didn’t say a word of protest.

You watched carefully as the procession makes its way from the palace guard to the place of crucifixion. This could be a real point of conflict. It is a time of emotion.

Today it seemed like the whole city was out. People from all walks of life making their hate known.

But Jesus didn’t say a word of protest.

You oversaw the crucifixion. It is a painful way to die. A shameful way to die.

Stripped naked.

Left hand down … large nail … hammer … strike, strike, strike, strike.

Right hand down … large nail … hammer … strike, strike, strike, strike.

Feet crossed over and held down … large nail … hammer … strike, strike, strike, strike.

But Jesus didn’t say a word of protest.

Indeed Jesus keeps saying Father forgive them.

Then so much happened.

Three hours of darkness - the eeriest thing you have ever experienced. What did this prisoner do to upset the “gods” like that?

Then Jesus cries out … almost shouting ... My God, My God why have you forsaken me? More word come … It is Finish. What is going on? What’s finished?

And then it happened … the last moment.

Normally a crucified criminal dies quietly, in agony, almost unconscious. Jesus didn’t die like that at all. He has the energy to cry out in a loud voice of triumph Into Your hands I commit My spirit.

Then it happened. Jesus died and an earthquake shock the city.

What is this?

What do you say?

… …

What are the observations of the centurion - one of the closest witnesses to the most extraordinary execution he has ever been responsible for - what does he say?

Well what he says is so significant three of the four Gospel writers take note of it.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

(Matthew 27:54)

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

(Mark 15:37-39)

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

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