The Day a Soldier Met GodPosted: March 21, 2008
On the day Jesus was tried, found guilty, and crucified on a cross, I thought it appropriate to see the whole ordeal through the eyes of a young Roman centurion. He was able to witness the whole ordeal and I was specifically convicted by his proclamation that Jesus was indeed the Son of God in Mark 15:39. It goes to show, when you see Jesus with eyes of faith and a heart that is broken, you see the Son of God, who was slain for the sins of man. To the others, he may have been the highest of criminals speaking nonsense and blasphemy, but to some gathered on that day, I believe they saw the lamb of God slaughtered for the sins of the world.
The crowds had made up their minds. The shouts of “Crucify Him!” could still be heard as the soldiers led him away into the palace courts where only the palace guards and soldiers now stood, encircling the humiliated Jesus. “Robe the King of his proper attire!” shouted one soldier as the rest threw a purple robe over the still body of Jesus. “Where’s the King’s crown?” another centurion asked. Winding a branch of thorns into a shape of a crown, one soldier mocked, “Here you are King, this should fit.” But in order for it to stay on, the soldier proceeded to drive the thorns into Jesus’ skull to act as hooks. Jesus stood as still as possible, trying to fight off the pain that was searing through his head, not even moving to wipe the blood that was now streaming down his face.
The soldiers continued to mock him by saluting him, bowing to him, and soon striking his head with a reed and spitting on his face. Blood mixed with spit now covered the face of Jesus. He had slumped over, no longer able to stand under the pain of the beatings. But it didn’t stop there, the soldiers took elicit joy in treating this king like a dog. They beat him with all the weapons they had on hand, pausing only to mock him. One soldier placed a blindfold over Jesus’ eyes and said “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”
While this bloody scene was taking place, a young soldier stood in the back. He couldn’t help but to distance himself from this horrid scene as the senior officers took their turns beating this man. What exactly did this man do wrong? If the stories were true of Him, He did great things among the people; miraculous things even, things only seen from the prophets of God. He’d never seen such animosity towards one person from his elder officers. He was actually quite surprised by their obvious contempt and anger toward this Galilean.
The soldiers lifted the bloodied body of Jesus and mounted a heavy cross to his lacerated back. “Take this to Golgotha!” they ordered Him. The young soldier couldn’t help but to feel sympathy towards this man. He wanted with all that he had to help him, but he knew that it would be risking his career to help a criminal. Yet in a small way, he followed behind Jesus to make sure the weight of the cross would not crush his now broken body. Seeing that the weight was too much for Jesus to bear in his beaten condition, the young soldier ordered a man from the crowd to take up the cross for Him.
Arriving on the darkened hill of Golgotha, the others prepared the cross for the man and lifted him to hang. The young soldier drew closer to the cross. He could hear Jesus muttering words in between violent seizures and he wanted to hear exactly what he was saying. As darkness rolled in, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” No longer able to hold his own weight as he hung on the cross, Jesus cried out one last time and slumped with his last breath.
Witnessing close enough to hear Jesus’ last breath, the young soldier could not contain it any longer. For some reason, his heart was pounding and he felt as though if he didn’t open his mouth, that these words would burst out of him, “Certainly this man was innocent! Truly this man was the Son of God!” The other soldiers looked up at him with surprised with scorn, but some others that were gathered to witness his death wiped their tears as the young soldier verified what they felt all along in their hearts. The young soldier fell to his knees weeping over what he had just witnessed. Facing the bloodied body of Jesus that hung on the cross, the young soldier prayed, “If it’s true that you were the Son of God, forgive me for my hands are stained with your blood. Forgive me, Jesus…”
Mark 15:1-41, Luke 22:63-23:49