In Luke, a centurion asks Christ to heal his slave.
In Acts, we read about Cornelius, the first believer to be baptized, and another centurion in Acts soliciting the help of his superior, suggesting Paul was a Roman citizen being imprisoned.
Also in Acts, centurions protect Paul twice. First from a hostile crowd, and again from other soldiers.
The "Spot On" Centurion
To me, the most notable time a centurion is mentioned occurs in Matthew 27:54, when he was on the right spot and "spot on," recognizing the man who just died on the Cross as the Son of God, a claim many had heard and many had disputed.
"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!'”
Surely they had heard about this man who was a great teacher and miracle worker. Surely they heard about the injustices and torture perpetrated on Jesus in his trials and how he reacted. Surely they knew about his trial and the crowds who called for the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.
Then, with what they had heard as a backdrop, nature made its voice heard. "From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land." (Matt. 27:45)
And then they heard Jesus cry out "in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)." (Matt. 27:46)
After mocking Jesus and offering him wine vinegar to drink, the drama escalated.
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people." (Matt. 27:50-54)
Witnesses to an Ultimate Injustice
The centurion and those who encircled the Cross on that dramatic day witnessed an innocent man's response to an ultimate injustice. They witnessed his willingness to forgive in response to that injustice.
The centurion's confession came at an extraordinary time and at an extraordinary place. What he experienced on the hill called Golgotha and his reaction to it was "spot on" and no doubt changed his life.
May our reaction to this account of selfless sacrifice on the Cross by our Lord and our God for our sins, be "spot on," exclaiming Jesus is truly the Son of God, and showing our willingness to accept our crosses out of love for him in times of trouble and times of service.
"You cannot be Christ’s servant if you are not willing to follow him, cross and all. What do you crave? A crown? Then it must be a crown of thorns if you are to be like him. Do you want to be lifted up? So you shall, but it will be upon a cross." Charles Spurgeon