Truly Son of God!

(Bible reference: Mark 15.33-41)

Truly Son of God is a poetic meditation by the Roman centurion at the end of the day of crucifixion. Just what would a Roman officer have meant by "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27.54)? Undoubtedly much less than the Christian affirmation, though we see in these words far greater implications than the officer could have imagined. At the end of the meditation the question is posed, "But has he gone away?" The hardened Roman officer is portrayed as questioning whether in this case it really is the end.

I'm just a Roman soldier,
a Roman army officer -
I only know a little
of the customs of the Jews.
I see a lot of living,
and I've seen a lot of dying
in the occupation army
in the country of the Jews.

Today they brought for slaughtering
a person extraordinary,
a prophet out of Nazareth,
a Galilean Jew.
'Twas said the charge was heresy,
but looked to me like jealousy -
no mark of evil in him,
no treason did he show!

Our Pilate is a waverer
and weakens under pressure -
so he said the man was innocent
yet gave him up to die!
He had them flog and beat him
and every way illtreat him,
then out along the way of death
where evil men must die.

We carried out our orders
and nailed him to the cross-bar,
then hoisted him for all to see -
a gruesome, sad display!
The jealous leaders stirred the crowd
to shout their insults wild and loud.
And crying out beside him
were two criminals that day.

At noon the sunlight went right out!
At three this Jesus gave a shout!
The locals said it meant he felt
he'd been left right alone.
One put a sponge up on a stick
to hold some wine up to his lips,
but with the last of ebbing strength
he cried out, then was gone!

But is he gone? I now must ask.
We soldiers only did our task -
the jealous and the weak conspired
to have him done away!
I've never seen such life and death,
a life lived through his dying breath!
This truly is the Son of God!
But has he gone away?

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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