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Mark 15:39: And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

What was it about Jesus' last breath that convicted the centurion?

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It is not a noun, but a verbal phrase in one Greek word:

He had breathed His last,
ἐξέπνευσεν (exepneusen)
Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 1606: (lit: I breathe out), I breathe my last, expire. From ek and pneo; to expire.

What was it about Jesus' last breath that convinced the centurion?

It is not just Jesus' last breath that convinced the centurion. It was the centurion's job to observe the whole process of crucifixion.

Pulpit Commentary

It was the business of the centurion to watch all that took place, and to see that the sentence was executed. He must have been standing close under the cross; and there was that in the whole demeanour of the dying Sufferer, so different from anything that he had ever witnessed before, that it drew from him the involuntary exclamation, Truly this man was the Son of God. He had observed him through those weary hours; he had noticed the meekness and the dignity of the Sufferer; he had heard those words, so deeply impressed upon the faith and reverence of Christians, which fell from him from time to time as he hung there; and then at last he heard the piercing cry, so startling, so unexpected, which escaped him just before he yielded up his spirit; and he could come to no other conclusion than this, that he was in very deed God's Son.

The centurion was experienced in his job and likely knew about the controversy of the sentence. From what he heard about Jesus and what he saw in how Jesus behaved in the crucifixion process, he was finally convinced that Jesus was the Son of God at His last act.

More detail is in

Matthew 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and e went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54When 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!”

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What was Jesus' last breath?

What was it about Jesus' last breath that convicted the centurion?

The NASB renders the verse "died in this way", the centurion was convinced by the manner in which Jesus died.

Mark 15:39 (NASB)

39 And when the centurion, who was standing [a]right in front of Him, saw that He [b]died in this way, he said, “Truly this man was [c]the Son of God!”

The events leading to Jesus death:

1/ Darkness falls over the land from the sixth hour (about 11 -12 AM) until the 9th hour (about 2- 3 PM) and then calls out to his Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Matthew 27:45-46 NASB

1/45 Now from the [aa]sixth hour darkness [ab]fell upon all the land until the [ac]ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabaktanei?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

2/ At that, a violent earthquake occurs, splitting rocks. It is so powerful that tombs outside Jerusalem break open and corpses are thrown out of them.

Matthew 27:50-52

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and gave up His spirit. 51 And behold, the [af]veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 Also the tombs were opened,and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;

Conclusion.

All these manifestations of God's wrath against those that killed his Son, make many people afraid. The army officer in charge of the execution proclaims:

Mark 15:39 (NIRV)

39 A Roman commander was standing there in front of Jesus. He saw how Jesus died. Then he said, “This man was surely the Son of God!”

He may have been there at Jesus’ trial before Pilate when the issue of divine sonship was discussed. Now he is convinced that Jesus is righteous and is, in fact, the Son of God.

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The words “... he breathed his last ...” is an idiom which means “[to] die”. So the verse (Mark 15:39) can be read as And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he died, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

What the centurion saw and heard with respect to the death of Jesus convinced him that Jesus was the Son of God.

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