Matthew 27:54 - The Centurion
Mat 27:54 (KJV) Now when the centurion, and they that were with
him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were
done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Jesus painted no pictures. Yet some of the greatest artists
were inspired by Him to paint their greatest works. Jesus wrote no
poetry. Yet hundreds of the world's greatest poems pay tribute to Him.
Jesus composed no music. Yet Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and
other great musicians wrote some of their greatest music to praise
Him. Jesus preached and taught for only three years. The
philosopher Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty years, and
Aristotle for forty years. Yet more people follow what Jesus taught than
follow the three philosophers combined. Jesus died on a cross as a
criminal. Yet even a guard who helped put Him to death recognized that He
was God's Son. [Youth SB]
Have you ever spent a night when you just couldn't sleep? There
seemed to be an uneasiness in the air? Commotion? Trouble? And for
the life of you, you couldn't pinpoint what was up?
That was how my night went last night. Tossing and turning,
tossing and turning. Being a Roman centurion here in Israel was not
without its problems. Insurrection and riotous outbreaks against the
Roman government were constantly arising. Tossing and turning,
tossing and turning.
As I laid in bed, it seemed as though I could hear voices
shouting in the distance. But when I would get up and go to the window
to investigate, it would be dead silent. May my mind was playing
tricks on me. Maybe it was reflecting on the numerous other nights
when the Jews staged early morning riots to catch the Romans off
guard. Back into bed, tossing and turning, tossing and turning.
Suddenly, I heard someone beating on my door. Who could it be
at this hour? I quickly made my way down to the door and opened it
to find one of my soldiers standing there almost out of breath.
"Sir," he said, "hurry and get dressed! It looks like there's going to
be a crucifixion today. Looks like trouble is brewing. You must
hurry!" Before I could come to my senses and ask any questions, he had
A crucifixion? It must be that murderer, Barrabas. It will be
a pleasure to be there to watch him hang on a cross. I mean, he
did murder one of my closest friends. I'd better hurry. Maybe the
rest of his savage gang will try to rescue him.
In a matter of minutes I was dressed and out the door. Suddenly
I found myself at Pilate's judgment hall. There I saw Pilate
quite disturbed and confused at the situation. I saw Pharisees,
Sadducees and many others with hatred written all over their faces
demanding a death sentence. But for who? And it was only then that I saw
this man called JESUS. Quite different from the rest. He wore a
face of serenity, of perfect peace. Unlike anything I had ever seen
in my life.
I had heard many wonderful things about Jesus which I had not
investigated. But, I had also heard that many Jews thought He would someday
rule over Israel and that meant trouble for Rome. But this man
didn't look like a king or a military leader, and it would require
quite an army to defeat Rome. The priests confirmed what I had heard.
Then Jesus spoke ever so softly that His kingdom was not of this
world, whatever that meant. Pilate looked very uncomfortable with the
situation and, having found that Jesus was a Galilean, decided to send Him
My company of men and I led Jesus over to Herod's palace. Jesus
would have been torn to shreds had we not fought back the angry mob
who had turned into a vicious pack of wolves stalking their prey.
Before Herod, Jesus was asked to work miracles like he had
supposedly done throughout Israel. But He did not respond. How could He
not respond? Maybe this Jesus is a fraud! What am I to believe? He
The growing crowd started mocking Him, calling Him a traitor,
liar and many other things. Great confusion filled the hall, and I
found myself joining the throng. However, I was ever so conscious of
Jesus' peaceful countenance. What kind of man is this?!
A mad rush was made for Jesus and He would have been torn to
pieces had not my soldiers intervened. My own sense of duty had
outweighed my feelings toward this Jew for the moment. But, even at that,
we joined in the abuse -- mocking Jesus, spitting in His face,
placing a royal robe on Him and laughing at His kingship. Just another
Jew, I thought.
Herod, after a season of ridiculing Jesus, saw that the crowd
would settle for nothing less than execution. Herod would not
sentence Jesus, but instead, sent Him back to Pilate. Roman soldiers,
with me at the head, led the way.
Fear was written all over Pilate's face. Hesitating at every
turn, trying to somehow avoid this situation, he finally exercised a
plan that he just knew would free Jesus. It didn't work though. The
crowd chose Barabbas to be released. I couldn't believe what I was
hearing, what I was seeing. But it was true. And I personally released
Barabbas, knowing that someday soon he would again be in chains ready for
My mind was confused! A Jew is a Jew! Look at them! They're
animals! Kill them one, kill them all!
In a single voice concerning Jesus, the crowd shouted, "Crucify
Him, crucify Him!" I found myself joining in. I had become one of
the animals. And Jesus, so serene. What kind of man is this?
Pilate bent under the intense pressure. Again Jesus was
scourged. How could He bear this? As I ordered this round of torture, my
heart began to break. Still He remained silent. His eyes would stare
into mine as though He were conveying a message of forgiveness. At
the time I couldn't understand such an act as that. What kind of
man is this?
We brought Jesus back into Pilate's hall where a death by
crucifixion was pronounced. The Pharisees, Sadducees and the crowd went
into a devilish hysteria. Joy over the sentence long fought for.
The crosses prepared for Barabbas and his two companions were
now being readied for Jesus and the two. What kind of justice is
this Roman justice?
As we led them to Calvary, a vast crowd followed. Many mocking
Him, many weeping for Him. Still He walked silently under the load.
It seemed as though two tremendous forces were pulling on me
from opposite directions. One voice was saying, "He's only a Jew!
Show no mercy. Crucify Him." The other voice, "Have compassion on
Him. Be tender with Him."
My mind was in such a turmoil! In my frustration, I cried out
in a barely audible voice, "God, help me." A God I did not even
know. And He did! My ears seemed to tune into the voices of those
who were weeping for Jesus. As we neared Calvary, I received
tremendous insights as to who this Jesus was. I heard stories from cleansed
lepers, from the seeing who once were blind, from children and even from
those who were raised from the dead. Stories of love, stories of
pity, stories of miracles beyond comprehension. Could this be the Son
of God as some say?
At Calvary, we hung the two thieves in ordinary fashion. But
when we came to Jesus, I glanced once again into His eyes. And there
they were, staring back with a look of total forgiveness. How could
anyone forgive one such as I? One who would nail Him to the cross. I
shrank back from my duty to start the nails. My men waited for my
orders. I still hesitated. Soon, however, they began without me. His
cross stood erect and there hung Jesus -- someone I was just getting
to know, just getting to love -- and soon He would be gone. What
kind of man is this?
And as He hung there -- His thoughts?? Arranging care for His
mother, forgiving a penitent thief and finally with a voice straining to
be heard, He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what
they do." Then His eyes once again fell upon me. Was this moment
meant for me? Could it be?
At last, with a groan, He cried out, "It is finished. Father,
into Thy hands I commend My spirit." He then gently bowed His head
upon His breast and died.
And finally I understood WHAT KIND OF MAN THIS WAS!
by Roger E. Stahl
I'm the one who spat upon the Savior.
I'm the one who mocked His holy name.
I'm the one who said with all the rest, "Crucify Him!"
I'm the one, I'm the one to blame.
I'm the one who made Him go to Calvary.
I'm the one who nailed Him to the tree.
Even though I am the one who brought all this on Him,
He's the one who tells me He forgives me.
What kind of man is this?
Why does He care for me?
Look what I've done to Him.
I guess He just doesn't see
That I'm the one to blame,
I caused Him all this shame.
What kind of man is this?
What kind of man is this?
Truly this is the Son of God.
I should have been the one to die.
No greater love hath one as this
That He should give His life for such as I.
*(The words of Dallas Holm's song from his album "His Last Days"
reflects the centurion's thoughts that day.)
Roger E. Stahl