Roman crucifixions are not pretty to watch. As a Roman officer, I’ve seen more than my fair share of them. There’s always blood, and agony. I’ve heard everything from curses, to pleas for mercy in the afterlife. This one, though, is different. This man from Nazareth is different than anything I’ve ever witnessed...
I give a startled jump when the man called Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Murmurs in the crowd break out, and then someone calls out, “Let’s wait and see if Elijah hears him!”
We wait, but nothing happens. My thoughts go back to when my men and I arrest that man. His closest friends abandoned him, fleeing for their own safety. I shake my head and mutter, “It seems even the deceased won't stay at your side.”
“Pilate has given us orders to hasten their deaths.” Seruius, one of my seasoned soldiers, declares as he hurries toward me.
I blink, bringing my thoughts back to the present. Placing my hand on his shoulder I say, “Do as he commands, old friend.”
The sky suddenly darkens as the man from Nazareth cries out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” Bowing his head, he drew in one last gasp of air. That very moment, I heard the sound of fabric being ripped apart. I was thrown to my knees as the ground started shaking violently. The clamor of frantic voices rang out and terror gripped me as I struggled to keep my balance. My limbs, trembling beneath me, felt that they’d give way at any moment.
It seemed like years had passed before the tremors finally ceased. Shakily, I stand up. Even though the ground has stopped shaking, I find that I’m still trembling.
“All the rocks have been split apart!” A woman cries out. Glancing around, I see her words are true. All of the rocks, no matter how large, have indeed been broken. Awestruck, I look back up at Jesus. Could that have really been coincidence?
“Look!” A man’s voice cries out in alarm.
Following the direction of everyone’s gaze, I see men and women in the distance emerging from their tombs.
Awestruck I stand, paralyzed with fear. My mouth goes dry, and for several moments I can’t speak. Eventually, though, I am able to exclaim, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
I wince as blood trickles down the shaft of the spear. When the soldier pulls it out of Jesus’ side, blood and water pour out, splattering me and all those standing nearby.
“He’s dead.” one of the Pharisees says, satisfaction evident in his voice.
“He was an innocent man!” a woman’s voice exclaims.
“He was a heretic!” another Pharisee retorted.
My head is spinning, and neither the raised voices nor the criminals’ agonized groans are helping. Inhaling deeply, I try to relax. It is only a matter of minutes now, I tell myself. People don’t last long on the cross once their legs have been broken.
At last, late in the evening, the crosses are lowered. After I verified that Jesus’ was indeed dead, Pilate gave Joseph permission to take Jesus’ body. After cutting the ropes we set to work pulling the nail out of Jesus’ wrists and feet. Once the body is freed and carried a short distance away, Joseph and his servants set to work. Red puddles form on the ground as Joseph washes the blood off Jesus’ body.
I grab a water container and try to wash the blood off myself.
“I’ve never seen so much blood after an execution.” Seruius exclaims, glancing around the clearing.
I grunt in agreement, “With how much blood is on the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a single drop left in that man’s veins.”
“It’s not just on the ground.” Seruius replies darkly, looking down at his own bloody hands and garb.”It’ll take good deal of scrubbing to get all this off.”
I stiffen, looking again at my blood splattered hands. “That man was innocent.” I mutter, half to myself. My thoughts return to what all transpired. We have killed the Son of God. A righteous man. “The blood we spilled shall stain us forever.”
Three days later the world would learn that the blood that tainted them actually was spilled to purify them!
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