Conversation: The Centurion

Untitled2Mark 15: 33-39


Do not put thoughts into my head which are not there.


I am no Christian.

I am not about to go off and become one of his followers.

As far as I am concerned his death was impressive;

you might even say unusual.

But whatever a Christian may mean by ‘God’s son’

all I am saying is he died like a child snuggling in his mother’s arms –

and that you don’t see when death by crucifixion gets to work.


I could hear what he was saying in between the gabbling of his tormentors.

They are bunch of idiots.

You couldn’t tell whether they were for him or against him.

It was almost as if they wanted to worship him.

But they weren’t listening.

They were too busy making their own noise to hear him.

You see what really got under my skin was the way he was praying.

He was talking to his God like an equal.

There was trust where there should have been hate.

I’ve heard some talk from crucified people, I tell you.

You can’t have my life and not have heard every blasphemy,

every curse, every whining snivelling excuse when death by cross

begins to do its job.

Everyone is innocent when they are lifted up on a cross.

He was different.


You see it was all a joke.

We scratched out the charge against him and put it by his head;


And that was why I said what I did.

You know what those Jews call their kings don’t you?


So it was a laugh.



he died like a king – serene, in control, Lord of all that he could see,

Almost as if he had the right to be there.


And as I stood and watched and listened it came to me.

How daft! How strange! How ironic! How bizarre

that I of all people should see a son of God on that cross –

when no one else could.


So what do I do with what I said?

Can you tell me?

Lord Jesus Christ – son of God on a cross pour out your grace on all

  • who are puzzled by what your death means
  • who cannot work out why faith in you is attractive
  • who make too much noise to hear you in their lives
  • who carry the shame of exterminating innocent ones

Forgive your people who bear your name when they do not place your cross at the heart of their lives and transform us all.

 Photo: Longinus the Centurion: Russian Icon by Fyodor Zubov (1680)



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