March 29, 2017

Recognizing God

Mark 15:33-39

When the centurion . . . saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

—  Mark 15:39

The centurion was an experienced warrior, likely a commander of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army. 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 carried out, he would have been accustomed to the desperate 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? 

Lord Jesus, when the sun you had created refused to shine, your Spirit moved even this centurion to recognize you. Holy Spirit, continue to draw people from all nations to the cross. Amen.

About the author — Fred Bultman

Fred Bultman began a “second career” as a pastor in 1997, after a first career in the banking business.  He served as pastor to congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In retirement, he continues to enjoy sharing in the ministry of the churches in and around his home in Fremont, Michigan.

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