Scene: a fallen tree log, a roughly built fire pit, backdrop of the 3 crosses, stars & moon in an otherwise dark night
(Scene opens with a Centurion sitting in front of a fire. It’s night and he’s talking to a stranger who joined him, to warm himself. The stranger noted the serious expression on the Centurions face and asked the cause of his distress.
This is a first hand account of what the Centurion witnessed)
Stranger: You don’t seem to be enjoying the warmth of the fire my Friend. In fact you look quite distressed, what troubles you tonight?
Centurion: You are right, I was just remembering the unsettling events up on the Hill. I will tell you if you wish to sit a bit. It isn’t an easy thing for me to speak of.
“Well, you couldn’t say it was a dark and stormy day. Everything started out all right, but no one could have known what disaster was about to happen. Pilate had arrived, and every year he let the people choose one prisoner to let out of prison. This Jesus man had just been arrested and taken before Herod. Guess what He said, He said He was the Messiah! The Son of God! (looking up at stranger) Can you believe that?
Anyway, Jesus was sent from Herod to Pilate. Someone had to decide what should be done with Him. After talking to
Pilate found nothing to accuse Him of and sent Him
back to Herod.
We made fun of Him you know, dressed Him up a little. I mean, He was
supposed to be a King. Then Herod sent
Him back to Pilate. It seemed no one
knew what to do with Him. After Pilate
consulted with the rulers and Priests, he went before the people and said,
“You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined Him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against Him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, He has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish Him and release Him.”
It was obvious to me
Pilate was a smart man. He knew what he was doing, but the
crowd started shouting, “Instead of Jesus, let Barabbas go free!” I mean, (looking up at stranger) this Barabbas was in jail for an uprising
in the city and murder! Personally, I
would much rather they had released Jesus.
back down into fire, shrugs) Anyway, Pilate tried to change their
minds, but the chief priests and teachers stirred up the crowd till they
shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” over and over.
Pilate asked, “Why, what crime has this man committed?” He told them he could find no grounds for the death penalty, but the shouts and demands continued as they insisted
Jesus be crucified.
Pilate finally released Barabbas and gave Jesus to the crowd. We took Him outside in chains and put a purple robe on Him to wear. Some soldiers twisted a crown of thorns together and set it on His head. We mocked and teased Him and beat Him more.
(pensive and ashamed)
I don’t think we have ever been so cruel to a criminal before. After we were done taunting Him, we gave him His old clothes back and started the whipping. The whips we used on Jesus were not normal leather whips. These ones had pieces of bone and glass tied into them so it would wrap around His flesh. When we pulled it off, His skin came with it. When we were finished, He was barely alive. Skin hung in ribbons on His body, and blood poured down His face. We led Him to Golgotha, which means the Skull. He was so weak, yet every time He fell one of the guards beat Him again.
(looking to stranger with a pained & puzzled expression, but not expecting an answer)
Why would they keep beating a man who was so close to death? They know the prisoners have to be kept alive.
(speaking to himself in a soft voice)
He was so near death already.
(back to narrative of events)
fell for the last time. It was decided to find someone else to carry His
cross. The wood wasn’t sanded or smooth,
and when we took the cross from Jesus,
splinters were shoved cruelly into His back.
We were mean. We didn’t need to be mean. He was going to die a cruel
death anyway. (said with shame and regret)
A man named
Simon was grabbed to carry the cross. When he
hesitated, a soldier grabbed his sword to kill the man, but he took the
cross. There were two other criminals
marked for execution that day too.
I don’t think we’ve ever had so much trouble with a crucifixion before!
was quiet but the others were arrogant and loud. You would think they would be quiet too,
especially since they were about to be hung on a cross, you know, to die
too. The religious leaders were in an
uproar, people were weeping and beating their breasts. It was a noisy and confusing mess. (shaking his head)
(head down, contemplative, resume narrative)
A couple of the soldiers drove large nails into His feet and hands.
(looking up at stranger)
It’s not like you think, with regular nails. These were huge spikes going through Him. We stood His cross up and fixed it in the ground. As we hung Him up, you could literally hear the bones popping out of joint. The noise was awful. We’ve heard this noise a thousand times before, but this time it seemed to be louder, and we all cringed when it happened. That didn’t stop some of the guards from teasing and ridiculing Him more though. The people jeered, He had saved others, why couldn’t He save Himself? I wondered the same thing.
Someone offered Him wine and vinegar but He refused. The mocking continued, “If you are the King of the Jews, then save yourself!” they shouted.
(speaking to himself: questioning, almost angry with
Why didn’t He get down? If He was able, why didn’t He just get down?
(resuming the narrative)
It’s our custom you know, to put signs above the prisoners heads, which said what their crimes were.
said the one above Jesus was to read,
“THE KING OF THE JEWS”. The priests were very angry with that.
I stood watching
Jesus as the other soldiers cast lots to see who got
As He hung there, we heard Him say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I wondered about that. Who was His Father, that He would ask such a thing? And why would He ask Him to forgive us? I wouldn’t forgive anyone who treated me the way we treated Him. And why did He say we didn’t know what we were doing? We treated Him very badly, and we knew what we were doing.
Well, one of the criminals hanging beside
awful things to Him, even in the face of death.
He insulted Jesus yelling, “If
you are the son of God, save yourself and us!”
The thief on the other side yelled back, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then the thief looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
I wondered why he said that, but then Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
That really bothered me. I mean, they were both being crucified, what did He mean ‘you will be with me in paradise’? Who was He that He could promise anything?
There was something else that was pretty bizarre about that day too. It was about the sixth hour, around mid day I guess, and the whole place was black. The sun had just begun to rise and then it . . . . it stopped!
(looking up at stranger, with a confused and disbelieving voice)
The sun just stopped shining!
Someone came running up. He was out of breath, but he told us the curtain in the temple had been torn in two. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but everyone seemed to think it was something pretty important. The priests looked almost frightened and many in the crowd ran to see it. I didn’t go anywhere though, I just couldn’t stop looking up at
face. As I was watching, I saw His lips
start to move. I leaned forward and
waited, then heard Him say in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit
My Spirit.” Then He breathed a last breath. He was dead.
I started to cry for it was only then I realized . . . . this man surely
was the Son of God.”
(The centurion stared into the fire and the stranger got up to leave. As he spoke his thanks for the shared cup of wine and the warmth of the fire, the centurion continued staring into the fire. He paid no attention to the stranger. He was truly caught up in the past events and seemed totally undone by them.)
Slowly the Centurion became aware the Stranger was standing there, still and waiting. As the Centurion looked up into the face of the Stranger, he suddenly realized Who He was. The Stranger stretched out a hand and as the Centurion reached out to take it, he saw where the nail had been driven in. He dropped to his knees and cried out to
Jesus, “Forgive me, I
didn’t know Who you were.” Jesus reached down and drawing the Centurion up into
His embrace, wiped the tears from his face and said, “You are forgiven.”
Girl on a Journey through the meaning of the Easter season. Blessings to you on your own Journey with God