And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
The centurion simply witnessed Jesus’ death and he knew. Without hearing one parable or witnessing one miracle, he knew. Without the testimony of scripture or an angelic announcement, he knew. This was not just a man. This one was divine. He had to be the Son of God.
This soldier may have witnessed many other deaths by crucifixion. Everyone would take the wine mixed with myrrh. Most would struggle. Many would scream. Some would angrily yell back at passersby who derided them.
Jesus was different. He had little to say to Pilate, the soldiers or anyone else for that matter. He endured the pain, the humiliation, the darkness and his last breath like no one else he had ever seen. Somehow, he knew.
Sometimes you just know. You know when someone is lying to you. Or when a deal is too good to be true. You can tell what someone is thinking just by looking at them. You can predict what someone is going to do just by watching them. You can sense when someone genuinely cares.
Teachers can look over a roomful of students and pick out the ones who will be a challenge. Police are trained to recognize someone who’s nervous, agitated and a threat. Your spouse knows when there’s something on your mind. Parents can tell when a child isn’t feeling well.
The demons knew who Jesus was. Those whom Jesus touched and regained their health knew he was someone out of the ordinary. The disciples knew and confessed that Jesus was the Christ. An unborn John jumped because he knew Jesus was in the room.
For the centurion, it was the moment of Jesus’ death that revealed his identity. The apostle Paul said he would always keep his message laser-focused on Jesus Christ and him crucified. He knew the power of that moment, too. There can be no doubt how much Jesus loves us when he breathes his last. This is a divine love that never changes and endures forever.
This centurion helps me keep my message simple. I don’t have to tell you everything I know about Jesus. But I will always tell you how he died.
Just so you know.
Heavenly Father, thank for all the disciples and parents and pastors and teachers who made sure I knew that Jesus died for me. Amen.