THE CENTURION AND THE CHRIST (MARK 15:37-39)
England’s Queen Elizabeth I once asked a British merchant to undertake a mission for the crown. “But Your Highness,” said the man, “such a long absence will be fatal to my business.” To which the queen replied, “You take care of my business, and I will take care of yours.” When he returned, he found that the queen’s patronage had enlarged his company immeasurably.
There were a lot of caregivers, converts and coworkers at Jesus near and after His death, including Simon of Cyrene, a great company of people and of women who followed, bewailed and lamented him (Luke 23:26-27), the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), Joseph of Arimathaea, Nicodemus (John 19:38-39) and last, but not the least of all, was the centurion (v 39). These supporters stepped up when the disciples stepped away. The centurion’s part and presence were more significant and substantial because he was closest to Jesus before and after He was crucified. The centurion’s work was not over after the crucifixion because Pilate verified with the centurion if Jesus was dead (Mark 15:39, 44-45).
A song says, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” What have we done to confess Him? How have you shown your courage as a believer? Why are our lives changed as a result of knowing Him and serving Him?
Hear the Shout
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)
Author of detective series “Father Brown,” G.K. Chesterton, said, “That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already, but that God could have His back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents forever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point -- and does not break.”
Jesus, for all the words credited to him, seldom spoke with a “voice” or in a “voice” in the Bible except in death or near death. The four most notable accounts associated with the noun “voice” or “loud voice” in the Bible include “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Matt 3:3, John the Baptist), “a voice from heaven” at Jesus’ baptism (Matt 3:17, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased), a voice out of the cloud at Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:5, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him) and unclean spirits crying in a “loud voice” twice (Luke 4:33, Luke 8:28). The only exception for Jesus to speak in a “voice” or “loud voice” other than this instance, was the death of Lazarus, when he cried with a “loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43). Even then, it was never on or for himself, but for Lazarus’ sake
In his crucifixion and death, however, his “loud voice” was at full volume, full blast and full vigor. He reserved, required and released his final voice, breath and call on himself to converse with God and to introduce his farewell. Jesus’ “loud voice” was never more prominent, personal and powerful than in his death and departure – not once, but twice. Previously the gospels of Matthew and Mark agreed that Jesus asked in a “loud voice, saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34)
With that Jesus breathed his last or “gave up the ghost” ((ekpneo), a single verb particular to himself and nobody else in the Bible that has nothing literally to do with “death” (thanathos). The English phrase “gave up the ghost” is different from the Acts account referring to other people such as Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:5, 10) or Herod (Acts 12:23) in when they gave up the ghost (ekpsucho), which is literally “to expire (out) their soul.”
In Luke’s account, as in Mark (Mark 15:37, 39), the word “ek-pneo” (gave up the ghost) literally means to expire (out) his air, breath, or spirit, as in the comparable word “pneuma,” for the (Holy) Spirit. In John’s gospel (John 19:30) Jesus “gave up” (paradidomi), yield up or give over (the ghost). Unlike others who died (apothnesko, 111x in NT), or are dead (thnesko, 9x in NT), or whose lives had ended (teleutao, 11x) it was never about death or dying for Jesus,; it was a choice and not a cost, a commitment and not a conflict, a closure and not a coercion.
Heed the Sight
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)