Holy Week #11: Which centurion did Pilate summon to find out if Jesus had already died?

Jesus died at approximately 3:00pm. If Joseph was going to fulfill prophecy, the body of Jesus would have to buried within the next 2 hours and 45 minutes, before the sun set at approximately 5:45pm. For this to happen, Joseph of Arimathea had to first come to Pilate and request the body of Jesus. Time was of the essence but Pilate was so surprised that Jesus was already dead, that he wanted proof of that Jesus was actually dead, so he sent for the centurion to verify that fact. “And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.” (Mark 15:44-45)

But which centurion did he summon and where was he to be found? A centurion is the commander of 100 men.

There was only one centurion who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and it was this centurion who watched Jesus die and marvelled. “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”

So Pilate asked one of his servants to go to Golgotha and get this particular centaurion and bring him so Pilate could verify Jesus’ death. This was the same centurion who reported that Jesus was most certainly dead.

But imagine how Joseph was feeling during this time? The location of Golgotha was anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes walking distance away from the Praetorium (depending on where where you think the crucifixion took place), so Joseph and Pilate had to have spent 30-45 minutes talking together while waiting for the centurion to return. This took precious time away from Joseph accomplishing his task, yet even in these circumstances, God was still in control and it would all be accomplished in God’s perfect timing.

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