The Centurion's Confession

Now the centurion, who stood over against Him, and they that were with him watching Jesus, seeing that crying out in this manner He had given up the ghost, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were greatly afraid, and glorified God, saying: "Indeed this was a just man. Indeed this was the Son of God. Indeed this man was the Son of God." - Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47

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1. Here, when all is over, we have, as it were, the verdict of an irresponsible jury. It is not necessary to suppose that they under stood the full significance of the title, but the words had been ringing" in their ears since the beginning of the tragedy, and their conclusion was that, whatever they might imply, He had vindicated His cause against His murderers. The evidence may not have been convincing to a cold materialist; it was apparently no more than that He had died with a loud cry on His lips, that the earth had quaked, that the sky had darkened, and that other strange things had happened. But behind all these were other details, far more convincing in themselves, yet useless to the mind of the materialist: the revolting passion of the victors contrasted with the calm dignity of the Victim; the infuriated mob that supported the murderers contrasted with the quiet sorrow of Our Lord's followers; the self-dissatisfaction of the first in their hour of triumph, and the confident "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit" of the second, at His moment of utterest defeat. By these marks is He known; by these marks is the persecuted truth known in all ages.

2. So we have the proof anticipated in the Old Testament; the real sign of the Son of God was this. Thus the Psalmist, speaking prophetically, says: "I am a worm and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people. All they that saw Me have laughed Me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head. He hoped in the Lord, let Him deliver Him: let Him save Him, seeing He delighteth in Him." And Isaias: "There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of Him. Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity." And Jeremias: "I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had devised counsels against Me, saying: Let us put wood on His bread, and cut Him off from the land of the living, and let His name be remembered no more." If the Jews had remembered this side of prophecy, "they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory."

3. But there is the more significant prophecy still, which may well occupy our thoughts at the foot of the cross. The wicked in the Book of Wisdom say: "He boasteth that He hath the knowledge of God, and calleth Him self the Son of God. He is become a censurer of our thoughts. He is grievous unto us, even to behold: for His life is not like other men's, and His ways are very different. We are esteemed by Him as triflers, and He abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness, and He preferreth the latter end of the just, and glorieth that He hath God for His Father. Let us see, then, if His words be true, and let us prove what will happen to Him, and we shall know what His end shall be. For if He be the true Son of God, He will defend Him, and will deliver Him from the hand of His enemies. Let us examine Him by out rages and tortures, that we may know His meekness and try His patience. Let us condemn Him to a most shameful death; for there shall be respect had unto Him by His words."


1. The centurion's evidence of the Son of God.

2 and 3. The evidence of prophecy.

- from The Crown of Sorrow, by Archbishop Alban Goodier