The first man saved when the second Man died

I’m fascinated by the unnamed centurion who was in charge of executing Jesus.  At the end of his normal day’s work, there was something that moved this soldier to a life-saving confession when Jesus exhaled His last breath.

Here’s a man who ordered his cohorts to finish the ugly deed of executing the criminals they had just strung up on crosses.  Here’s a man who was stained with the blood of the crucified Man and who stood just feet away from His family.  Here’s a man who knew very well that this Man’s mother saw everything he was doing:  stripping her Son naked, pounding spikes into His hands and feet, raising Him up in humiliation for all to see, gambling for His clothes, hearing His last words, and caring not…  until the end.

Then, when the Son’s lungs collapsed and His great heart stopped beating, the centurion glorified God.  His was a confession of faith in the Man whose blood now soaked the warrior’s soul:  “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” and “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”  (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47).  You can’t glorify the Father this way unless Jesus has changed your life forever.

There’s no question about the salvation of a man who is diligently seeking to know the Savior, like the eunuch and his confession of faith in Acts 8:37:  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  It’s a done deal.  But what of the man who is suddenly ambushed by the Cross?  Was the centurion’s confession enough?

With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10).  I say it was enough.  And when I meet the centurion in heaven, I think I’ll say to him, “The second Man…  He wouldn’t have done it without you.  Thanks.”

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