Posted by: Jo | April 11, 2014

Surely This Man Was The Son Of God

“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said “Surely this man was the Son of God.”” (Mark 15:39)

image As we approach Holy Week, we begin to focus our thoughts exclusively on the most astounding occurrence, in all of history, the Son of God, willingly giving his life for our salvation. One of the witnesses to this incredible act of love was a Roman centurion who overcome with emotion, uttered these words. “Surely this man was the son of God.” I have always been touched by those words coming from that soldier, who belonged to the hated Roman occupying force and yet suddenly recognised the deity of Christ.

As I was reading this passage this week I was struck by the importance of witnesses in all areas of our lives. When there is an accident between vehicles, witnesses are crucial in establishing exactly what happened. Witnesses play an important place in solving crime. Witnessing beautiful acts of kindness spreads joy to others. We know that others beside the centurion were witnesses of Jesus act of devotion;

“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” (Matthew 27:55 – 56)

Jesus’ mother was there with the beloved disciple, John.

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple who he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman here is your son” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother…”” (John 19:26 – 27)

image Not everyone who stood at the foot of the cross that first Good Friday were convinced they were looking at the Son of God. Passersby hurled insults at him, demanding he save himself and come down from the cross. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law mocked him, perhaps others were bewildered at seeing the sweet teacher who had been curing their loved ones, now suffering a criminal’s death. Jesus’ response to the insults and the mockery sums up the complete divine reason for the heart wrenching spectacle of the Son of God paying the price for our sins;

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”” (Luke 23:34)

Understanding the cross is difficult. When I was young we had a brilliant English teacher who helped us understand great literature, one of her pieces of advice was to choose a character in the story; identify with that person; see the story through their eyes; live the story through them. I find this helpful to do this week before Easter as we imagine that first Good Friday; perhaps choose one of the villagers who heard Jesus teaching, imagine what they would want to say to him to comfort him or perhaps choose one of those loving women, help them imageproject their love toward him silently; perhaps there were secret followers of Jesus who are now regretting they had not told him that they believe; John himself, what would have been racing through his mind? By living through these witnesses and feeling the emotions welling up in them is a beautiful way to prepare ourselves for Good Friday when we too must stand in front of the cross. This old hymn sums it up

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?


  1. Thank you Jo.. I will try to think of myself as one of those witnesses this Easter.


  2. A wonderful reflection to begin Holy Week, Jo. Thank you.


  3. Hi Jo, This really ministered to me today. Thank you!


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