"When the centurion ... saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'" — Mark 15:39
The centurion, an experienced warrior, was the commander of about 100 Roman soldiers. As the officer ordered by Governor Pilate to carry out three executions that day, he was no stranger to violence and death, whether it was on the battlefield or at a crucifixion. With all the crucifixions he had seen, he would have been accustomed to the struggles and cursing of defiant condemned prisoners, along with their shrieks of agony on the cross. He would have been familiar with the trembling of those overcome by fear in their final moments.
Jesus was now as dead as all those others, his lifeless body still hanging on that middle cross. And yet, this centurion, after watching the drama unfold around Jesus' death, was moved to exclaim: "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
He had probably heard the conversation of the criminals and Jesus (Luke 23:39-43). He couldn't have missed the darkness that shrouded the scene for three hours after noon, or the earthquake that split rocks when Jesus gave up his spirit, saying, "It is finished" (John 19:30; Matthew 27:51-52).
That day, the Holy Spirit moved that hardened soldier to speak: the centurion knew he was in the presence of God.
Are you ready to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ of God?