This is my first post in this new category, and it is one I am seriously thrilled to share. It has been on my mind so intensely lately after processing through the gospel story again over the past few weeks. The character I am writing about today is a man with no name. We know very little about this man, but what we do know should have a profound influence in how we view the impact the crucifixion has.
He was a Roman centurion. He was a soldier of the might Roman Empire. His ranking placed him as the head of 100 soldiers. He was a man with a certain amount of power. You didn’t cross Roman soldiers in this time period. They worked for those that ruled over you. This would have been a man with a measure of influence amongst the men he was leading. What were this man’s beliefs though?
As a Roman soldier he would have stood with the popular religious views of Rome. A religion filled with multiple deities. A religion where the Caeser was to be declared your Lord, and to be called the son of God. The current Caesar was always called the son of God since he followed the former Caesar who became a full blown deity upon death. This man was a pagan.
We know something else about this particular Roman soldier. He played a role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He was among the soldiers that nailed Jesus to the cross. He was around the soldiers he gambled over Christ’s clothing. He was in the crowd that mocked Jesus. Like all the others soldiers there he was a tormenter of Jesus. He was in the same crowd that Jesus cried to God to forgive since they did not know what they were doing. This was a man of profound ignorance for playing a part in crucifying the true son of God. If only he knew how much his life was about to change.
Upon Jesus death, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us a series of events took place. Put all of the details form these gospels together, and you will find that Jesus death was impossible to ignore. The veil in the temple that represented division between God and man was torn in two, there was a great earthquake that split open the earth, and a great darkness covered the sky. All these events lead to one of the most profound statements uttered. The Roman centurion looked at all that had happened and said, “Truly this was the son of God.”
How often have you blown over that statement? It is mentioned in some form in three of the four gospels. The gospel of Luke mentions how the centurion realized Jesus innocence. In three of the gospel this character shows up in order to show one simple truth. Each account of this event shows that the centurion realizes how wrong he has been.
Do you grasp the impact of these words? A roman soldier who played part in the death of Jesus has admitted his guilt in the event. A roman soldier who has been trained to call his Caesar Lord and son of God has effectively denounced all that by calling Jesus the true son of God. Not son of a Caesar God. Christ has been proclaimed as THE son of God. What overwhelms me even further is what it took to get this Roman Centurion to believe this life changing truth.
He did not need to see the resurrection of Christ. The sheer impact of Christ’s death showed him the importance of this man. The fact that so much power and influence came from Christ’s death showed this soldier who he really was. What I imagine amazed this man even more was the fact that Christ willing let himself die when he clearly could have done something about it.
This Roman soldier who believed everything opposite Christianity found belief in Christ just by witnessing his death. This is incredible! Don’t you see? Christ took the most powerful symbolic enemy of mankind. He took death itself. It was the foe that was believed to be incapable of defeat. It was the enemy that marked the end of all things. He took that foe and used it to show the impact of his own power and strength! Christ took the most powerful, dark, symbolic villain man has ever know, and effectively showed that death was meaningless compared to him. How did he show it? By dying! Christ’s death showed that death itself was unable to handle him. His creation literally screamed out from the event. Christ’s death effected things on a global scale. It was a physical example of the spiritually creation would receive form his resurrection. This Roman soldier got to witness something incredible. He got to witness Satan’s greatest blow being his worst nightmare. It took death, but the Roman soldier found God.
One man. No name. A statement that creation itself echoes to this day. I don’t know about you, but that just gets me excited.