A Surprising Confession

Mark 15.39

Ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ κεντυρίων ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐξ ἐναντίας αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν εἶπεν· ἀληθῶς οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος υἱὸς θεοῦ ἦν.

When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

There is something so powerful, and yet so humbling about this passage from Mark’s Gospel. While the Messiah hanged on a Roman cross, placed there by the Jewish and Roman leaders, a lowly Roman centurion stands by and utters one of the most powerful professions of faith in the New Testament. Just the hours before this confession, we read of Jesus’ humiliation at the hands of Roman soldiers (15.16-20). The text does not specifically say so, but it may be that the hands of this centurion were used in the beating of Jesus (15.19). How then do we explain such a radical transformation? How is it that a man is transformed from a violent, torturous human being to one confessing faith in the Son of God?

Also, what is interesting is that Mark’s Gospel is the only one which records the centurion’s confession. With all of Jesus’ disciples standing around the cross, why not record their words? It may be that Mark’s inclusion of the centurion’s confession is an exclamation point for his whole Gospel: the centurion confession is representative of Rome’s confession of Jesus as Son of God. Just a thought.

3 thoughts on “A Surprising Confession

  1. Absolutely; this story is a brilliant conclusion to the opening of Mark’s gospel where he puts forth Jesus as the true “Son of God” over and against the Caesars.

    Good stuff.

  2. Pingback: Elsewhere (07.13.2011) | Near Emmaus

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