"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!" Luke 27:54, NIV.
This Roman Centurion had no vested interest in Jesus one way or the other. He was not looking for a messiah, and he was not a disciple or follower so far as anybody can tell. He does not appear elsewhere in the gospels, Acts, or letters of the New Testament. This makes him the perfect witness.
Jesus died as no other died, not that the crucifixion in his case was worse than anybody else. The Romans routinely mocked their victims. The scourging was standard operating practice to weaken the condemned. The crown of thorns was an extra measure, but extra measures were not uncommon. This Centurion would have seen hundreds of deaths maybe thousands, and would have presided over many executions. He did not see death in the sterile modern hospital common in the western world. Death happened daily on the streets of his world- he knew death. Something was outstandingly unique in the death of this one that caused the hardened Centurion to remark, "Surely, he was the son of God!"
The events recorded in the Gospel accounts include darkness over the land, earthquakes, the resurrection of many righteous from the tombs, Jesus own loud cry.
We cannot fully understand the context of the Roman times, but something terrified these hardened veterans of hand to hand warfare. They saw and experienced something at the death of Jesus that was petrifying.
SON OF GOD
What did he mean by the "Son of God?" In the setting of the first century and the thinking of the average roman, gods were everywhere and every king claimed to be one or descended from one. The events convinced the Centurion that Jesus was the true incarnation of the One and Supreme God.
A PERSONAL CHOICE
Not everyone who encounters Jesus becomes a follower. This Roman acknowledged the truth and as far as we know that is as far as he got. Many of us today give lip service or nod our head to the truth that Jesus was God incarnate and his death paid for our sins; but we don't admit our personal need for a savior, we do not call on him to be our own savior and Lord. We must make that choice for ourselves.
To know more about trusting Jesus as Savor follow this link: Jesus and the Plan of Salvation
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