30
Mar
13

Profiles from the Resurrection: The Centurion at the Cross

In a way, the centurion at the cross is a perfect picture of self-sacrifice.  Let’s examine the character of this man, his circumstances, mash them all up with the scripture and discover how he is a perfect picture of self-sacrifice.

First, as a centurion, he was an officially commissioned officer in the greatest and largest army in the world, the army of Rome.  Some would even debate whether or not the Roman military was one of the finest and greatest in the history of the world.  While his commission as an officer was a lower ranking one, it was certainly the first step to further advancements and greatness.  He had been trained by the finest instructors available and had been a rock-hardened soldier in the Roman army.  He had the glare of greatness on his service and was deemed worthy of his official commission.  This was certainly a post for which he had worked hard, and was proud of his position.

He was likely an upwardly mobile man, looking forward to a long and satisfying military career.  His whole life was probably before him.  He was entrusted the care and control of 100 of Rome’s soldiers, and undoubtedly had his sights set on being a commander of centurions, then advancing to higher ranks.  He was hard-working, had an excellent work ethic and would lay down his life for his country.  His life was totally dedicated to Rome in every way imaginable.

One day, his group of soldiers was given the command to preserve the control of a mad Jewish mob as one of their leaders was put to death.  An uprising from these hot-headed Arabs was expected, and if they did lash out, it could get out of control in a hurry.  Therefore, this trusted and proven centurion could accomplish the task at hand.

During the course of the day, he doubtlessly had heard a few whispers or rumblings coming from the crowd.  Some called the man on the cross in the middle a Messiah, and some called him a mental case.  Some people claimed that the man with “King of the Jews” posted as his punishment was the one promised in their holy scriptures and some said that he was a Nazarene, and nothing good ever came out of Nazareth.  Yet others boldly said that He was the Son of Almighty God, but others would retort that he was the son of a whore who got herself pregnant before she was married.

As the work progressed on Golgotha without much incident, the centurion also witnessed some unusual things.  This man who was dying asked His God to forgive the people who were putting him through His turmoil – strange indeed!  Then the centurion heard this “King of the Jews” tell one of the other men being crucified that He would see him in heaven.  The last thing the centurion heard was this man crying out something about the debt being paid and then releasing His spirit in death.  This was followed by some weird storm with lightning and an earthquake that nearly knocked him off his feet.

After all this, the centurion mulled over the evidence and decided to make a change in his life:  he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”

The Bible tells us in Luke 23:47 that the centurion glorified God with his proclamation.  It is impossible to truly glorify God unless the Holy Spirit moves us to do so, which would point to the centurion accepting the message of the gospel.  In a sense, he turned his back on his devotion to his promising career as a Roman soldier and took on the title of Christian.

Jesus said that when we come to Him, our love of, and devotion to, Him is to be so intense that it makes our love to our family seem like hate in comparison (Luke 14:26).  In fact, it was Jesus who told us “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).  Being a Christian involves sacrifice, whether it is the job (like in the case of the centurion), our family (or boyfriend or girlfriend) or our circle of friends.  Sacrifice might involve monetary sacrifice or it might involve giving up the golf club membership or the tanning sessions so that the true Christian can spend the time they need to fulfill their time obligations going about doing His work.

Never forget the example of the Roman centurion and what he probably sacrificed in his proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God.  Never forget that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for His disciples.  Can we, as true Christians, do any less?

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1 Response to “Profiles from the Resurrection: The Centurion at the Cross”



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