He had been in the position for years. The brutality. The killing. Over time, it was necessary that he develop a cold, calloused heart. Privately, he relived the nightmare experiences. Witnessing the deaths of criminals of the day—their attitudes, their hatred, their lack of remorse–and some repented, some begged for life, some wept for their families. But one day something changed.
Legend tells us the centurion’s name was Longinus. On this day, there would be three crucified: two thieves and the one called Jesus. He had heard of Jesus, and now he gets to meet Him. As the centurion observed Jesus, he noticed something was different. Jesus didn’t have the same attitudes, hatred, or lack of remorse he had noticed in the others. His eyes were instead filled with tears of love.
Something within the centurion stirred. It was a feeling he had not felt for a long time. He couldn’t help but watch Jesus and listen to Him speak to His Father. The Gospels tell us that when Jesus died on the cross, the centurion confessed that Jesus was the innocent Son of God (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23).
Legend also tells us that Longinus had an eye condition that left him nearly blind. However, because he was standing at the foot of the cross, a drop of Jesus’ blood fell into his eye, and he was healed. Jesus made an impact on the centurion’s life physically and spiritually.
The centurion watched and listened at the foot of the cross. The centurion was a man transformed by Christ’s example. The centurion was also impacted by the people with him at the foot of the cross: notably, Jesus’ mother, friends, followers, and John the disciple.
Our Faith Connections Challenge: How has Christ impacted you? The song, “At the Foot of the Cross,” is a reminder of the impact Christ Jesus has on the world, especially at Easter. Our challenge is that as the centurion observed Jesus and those at the foot of the cross, people observe us. May we lay our burdens down and receive forgiveness at the foot of the cross where we are made complete.