When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Mark 15.42-45
Jesus is dead. “Are you sure?” Pilate wants to know. “Yes,” the centurion of the guard assures him. “Dead as a doornail,” or perhaps the nail used for the crucifixion. A dead nail is a nail that has been bent at its end to create additional securing – and as such, a nail that will no longer have any other use. Pilate wants to know that this Jesus of Nazareth will never again cross his path, let alone challenge his beliefs.
Pilate wants no other information. I am sure that the centurion only offers what he has been asked. He is a centurion after all, disciplined in his duty and well aware of the consequences he faces for disobedience. But the death is not what the centurion will remember at all – for “…Truly this man was God’s Son….”
Most loving God, hanging on a cross to die our death, give us the hope of resurrection at that darkest hour and bring us into life again. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.
The Rev. Barry J. Harte
the Church of Saint Asaph, Bala Cynwyd