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  • Writer's pictureJill Jarrell Newsome

Understanding Authority

As I was reading my daily Bible, a verse stuck out to me that I do not remember. Luke 23: 47, "When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, 'Surely this man was innocent.'" I never remember the Roman soldier. Who was he?

That Sunday we sang, "Glorious Day by Elevation Worship. "Oh, I see lightning, I hear thunder Something stirring six feet under Dead things coming back to life again I believe there's about to be another resurrection Oh, I see signs and I see wonders..." I was reminded of the Roman soldier again - he witnessed the earthquake... who was he? After studying, I think he was a stranger who'd had no access to theological teachings. I doubt he knew what faith was. We do not know his age or his thoughts. As a successful career soldier, he did understand authority and how it worked. His life demanded "absolute authority" to his superior. We know he was an officer and had at least a hundred men under him. But this morning he was in command of the execution squad to put three men to death.

Scripture tells us he watched everything and heard Jesus' prayer, "Father forgive them." He heard the mockery. He heard Jesus say to one of the thieves, beside Him, "Today you will be with me in paradise." He saw Jesus' concern for Mary and heard Him call to John, "Care for her as your own mother." He saw the sun stop shining for three hours. He heard Jesus cry out, "It is finished!.....Father into thy hands I commend my spirit." He saw his last breath, after surrendering His own will. He witnessed an earthquake. Matthew 27: 54, "When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” The Roman soldier helped implement the death sentence that Pilate demanded but this man changed his mind. While Jesus’ body was still hanging broken and lifeless on the cross, this Roman soldier praised God!

Who do we answer to? ++ I have been challenged!


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