"And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God." (Mark 15:39)
It took a different kind of a man to be a part of detail of soldiers that crucified people. They had to be hard-hearted, and without any conscience. They enjoyed seeing people suffer excruciating pain, and inflicting pain upon others. I am not that kind of person. I want to relieve pain and suffering if I can. So I can't comprehend those who hurt others, and feel no remorse.
Pilate handed our beautiful and kind Savior to some of the most ruthless men on the earth. They brutally beat Him, and then nailed Him to the cross! Then, they sat down, and watched Him agonize in pain until He died! Not only did they crucify Jesus, but two other souls were nailed to crosses beside of Jesus.
The leader of this detail was a centurion. He is not given a name in the gospels, but church tradition calls him, Longinus.
There is no way of knowing how many people this centurion had executed by crucifixion, but I have always imagined that he must have been good at his job, or Pilate would not have given him the task of crucifying Jesus. Jesus had become a political hot potato, and the city was nearly in a full scale riot over Him. Pilate would use his best man for this assignment.
The centurion had watched many sinners die by crucifixion, and likely on the battlefield, as well. He was accustomed to death.
But, he had never seen a sinless man die, before! As he watched Jesus, there was something different about His death, from any other death he had witnessed. Others cursed, and begged for their lives. They would threaten and fight those who were trying to kill them. He had witnessed the fear and terror in their eyes.
He saw none of those things in Jesus! He saw a grace in the way that Jesus suffered and died. Jesus' death had a life-changing impact upon the centurion.
"...he said, Truly this man was the Son of God." (Mark 15:39)
Even the hardest of men are changed when they get close to Jesus!
Church lore says that Longinus left the Roman army after he crucified Jesus. He took the lance that was used to pierce Jesus' side with him when he left. He went into Asia Minor, and died a martyr for Jesus.
That is all lore, or tradition. What we know for sure is this, a hard as nails Roman centurion confessed that Jesus was the Son of God at the foot of the cross. That sounds a lot like what I did, when He saved me from my sins. And, it should sound like what you did, when you gave your heart to Jesus.
Jesus died to save that centurion! Others that he had crucified would have given anything to take their revenge upon him for what he had done to them. But not Jesus!
If Christ would save that centurion, He is willing save anyone.
From my heart to your heart.