The centurion - The Roman officer who superintended the execution, called centurio, from centum, a hundred, because he had the command of one hundred men.
Truly this was the Son of God - An innocent, holy, and Divine person; and God thus shows his disapprobation of this bloody tragedy. It is not likely that this centurion had any knowledge of the expectation of the Jews relative to the Messiah, and did not use the words in this sense. A son of God, as the Romans used the term, would signify no more than a very eminent or Divine person; a hero.
Now when the centurion - Centurion, a captain of a hundred soldiers. He was here placed over the band that attended the crucifixion.
They feared greatly - They regarded these things as proof that God was angry, and they were terrified at the prospect that vengeance was coming on them.
Truly this was the Son of God - They had heard, probably, that Jesus professed to be the Son of God. Seeing these wonders, they believed that God was now attesting the truth of his professions. The centurion was a pagan, and had probably no very distinct notions of the phrase “the Son of God” - perhaps understanding by it only that he was like the pagan heroes who had been deified; but he certainly regarded these wonders as proof that he was “what he professed to be.” In the original it is “a son of a god;” an expression perfectly suitable to a polytheist, who believed in the existence of many gods. Mark Mark 15:39 says that they affirmed that “this man was the Son of God.” Luke Luke 23:47, that they said, “Certainly this was a righteous man.‘ These things were said by “different persons,” or at different periods of his sufferings - one evangelist having recorded one saying, and another another.
In the closing events of the crucifixion day, fresh evidence was given of the fulfillment of prophecy, and new witness borne to Christ's divinity. When the darkness had lifted from the cross, and the Saviour's dying cry had been uttered, immediately another voice was heard, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Matthew 27:54. DA 770.1
These words were said in no whispered tones. All eyes were turned to see whence they came. Who had spoken? It was the centurion, the Roman soldier. The divine patience of the Saviour, and His sudden death, with the cry of victory upon His lips, had impressed this heathen. In the bruised, broken body hanging upon the cross, the centurion recognized the form of the Son of God. He could not refrain from confessing his faith. Thus again evidence was given that our Redeemer was to see of the travail of His soul. Upon the very day of His death, three men, differing widely from one another, had declared their faith,—he who commanded the Roman guard, he who bore the cross of the Saviour, and he who died upon the cross at His side. DA 770.2
As evening drew on, an unearthly stillness hung over Calvary. The crowd dispersed, and many returned to Jerusalem greatly changed in spirit from what they had been in the morning. Many had flocked to the crucifixion from curiosity, and not from hatred toward Christ. Still they believed the accusations of the priests, and looked upon Christ as a malefactor. Under an unnatural excitement they had united with the mob in railing against Him. But when the earth was wrapped in blackness, and they stood accused by their own consciences, they felt guilty of a great wrong. No jest or mocking laughter was heard in the midst of that fearful gloom; and when it was lifted, they made their way to their homes in solemn silence. They were convinced that the charges of the priests were false, that Jesus was no pretender; and a few weeks later, when Peter preached upon the day of Pentecost, they were among the thousands who became converts to Christ. DA 770.3Read in context »
While the women were making known their message as witnesses of the risen Saviour, and while Jesus was preparing to reveal Himself to a large number of His followers, another scene was taking place. The Roman guard had been enabled to view the mighty angel who sang the song of triumph at the birth of Christ, and hear the angels who now sang the song of redeeming love. At the wonderful scene which they were permitted to behold, they had fainted and become as dead men. When the heavenly train was hidden from their sight, they arose to their feet, and made their way to the gate of the garden as quickly as their tottering limbs would carry them. Staggering like blind or drunken men, their faces pale as the dead, they told those they met of the wonderful scenes they had witnessed. Messengers preceded them quickly to the chief priests and rulers, declaring, as best they could, the remarkable incidents that had taken place. 1SM 303.1
The guards were making their way first to Pilate, but the priests and rulers sent word for them to be brought into their presence. These hardened soldiers presented a strange appearance, as they bore testimony to the resurrection of Christ and also of the multitude whom He brought forth with Him. They told the chief priests what they had seen at the sepulcher. They had not time to think or speak anything but the truth. But the rulers were displeased with the report. They knew the great publicity had been given to the trial of Christ, by holding it at the time of the Passover. They knew that the wonderful events which had taken place—the supernatural darkness, the mighty earthquake—could not be without effect, and they at once planned how they might deceive the people. The soldiers were bribed to report a falsehood. 1SM 303.2Read in context »
vs. 45, 46; John 1:1-3, 14). The Sermon in Action—[Matthew 27:54 quoted.] ... What so enlightened and convinced these men that they could not refrain from confessing their faith in Jesus? It was the sermon that was given in every action of Christ and in His silence under cruel abuse. At His trial one seemed to vie with the other in making His humiliation as degrading as possible. But His silence was eloquence. In that lacerated, bruised, broken body hanging on the cross, the centurion recognized the form of the Son of God (Manuscript 115, 1897).Read in context »
I perceive that there is danger in approaching subjects which dwell on the humanity of the Son of the infinite God. He did humble Himself when He saw He was in fashion as a man, that He might understand the force of all temptations wherewith man is beset. 5BC 1129.1
The first Adam fell; the second Adam held fast to God and His Word under the most trying circumstances, and His faith in His Father's goodness, mercy, and love did not waver for one moment. “It is written” was His weapon of resistance, and it is the sword of the Spirit which every human being is to use. “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me”—nothing to respond to temptation. On not one occasion was there a response to his manifold temptations. Not once did Christ step on Satan's ground, to give him any advantage. Satan found nothing in Him to encourage his advances (Letter 8, 1895). 5BC 1129.2
(Matthew 27:54; 1 Timothy 3:16.) But although Christ's divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions “human” and “divine” were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty. Surrounded with sorrow, suffering, and moral pollution, despised and rejected by the people to whom had been intrusted the oracles of heaven, Jesus could yet speak of Himself as the Son of man in heaven. He was ready to take once more His divine glory when His work on earth was done. 5BC 1129.3Read in context »