Summary: A first person portrayal of the Centurion who proclaimed "Surely this was the Son Of God."
(Everything listed in parenthesis is either a stage direction or a comment meant to give information that was not verbalized as part of the actor’s monologue. Items used for this presentation were: a rented centurion outfit, a short sword, a cat of 9 tails, and a tube of tanning cream to give the appearance of a deeply suntanned soldier).
(The auditorium is completely dark, and the centurion enters from a side room. Lights are turned on as the audience sees him standing arrogantly, with one hand on his hip and his other hand holding a sheathed sword.
He slowly scans the audience).
My name is Markus Antonius, a centurion in the legions of Rome and stationed in the land of Judea.
(Slowly he begins to walk toward center stage).
For 25 years I have faithfully served my Emperor. Rising up from the lowest ranks, I have become the captain of 100 men in a regiment of 5000. I have fought in more battles than I care to remember in lands such as Greece, Persia and Carthage.
(Drawing his sword) My blade had shed the blood of hundreds upon the field of battle… and I had learned to fear nothing (blade extended with quiet menace toward the audience) and no one… for I have served in one of the mightiest armies that had ever marched upon the face of the earth.
But to be stationed in the land of Judea? (shaking his head smiling sadly as he half turns away) My sword has shed the blood of too many Judeans (sheathing his blade) and there was no honor in that. For they had no army. No force to face on the field of battle.
They were simply a pathetic, difficult, and backward country that hadn’t the sense to bow before the throne of Caesar.
Other nations accepted Caesar’s rule
Other people bowed the authority of Rome
But not these Jews… not these Jews.
We knew it was their religion, their faith in this one holy and righteous God which made their backs like iron and the made it impossible for them to bow the knee.
Privately we speculated that we would have to destroy their very temple for they would ever bow before Caesar.
They were a harsh, bitter and unkind people…
But to be fair not all of them were that way.
Some were kind to us, some were good.
And most of those were the ones who listened to the teachings of a rabbi known as Jesus.
We Romans laughed about this Jesus.
To us He was little more than an itinerant preacher who had nothing better to do with his time than to wander about the countryside preaching of peace and love.
We Romans knew that peace (his hand thoughtfully goes to the hilt of his sword) came by the edge of the sword. And love?... Love was something you purchased.
We were men of the world. We understood these things.
To us this Jesus was nothing more than a simpleton and a fool.
Lucius however, did not agree with us.
Lucius was my friend, and a fellow centurion. And he told me the strangest tale. (see Matthew 8:5-13)
It seems that his servant had become sick and was paralyzed an racked with pain. Lucius was beside himself because this was his favorite servant.
But then he heard about this rabbi who not only preached of love and peace, but – it was rumored – could heal someone by simply touching them.
The crippled were made to walk
The blind to see
And lepers were made whole again.
So my friend sought out this Jesus… and finally found him in a dirty backwater town.
“My servant,” he said, “is sick and in great pain. Will you come and heal him?”
And Jesus said that he would come at once and heal him.
But Lucius boldly said “No, that will not be necessary. I am a man of authority and I say to one man ‘do this’ and to another ‘do that.’ You have only to say the word and my servant will be healed.”
My friend told me that Jesus looked into his eyes and marveled. “Never in all of Israel,” Jesus supposedly said, “have I ever seen such faith. Return home and it will be done as you have asked.”
And Lucius told me that that very hour of the day, his servant rose from his bed and was completely healed.
(turning to a person in the audience)
Did that really happen?
I didn’t know.
I too was a religious man, and in my religion there were many stories of great healings and miraculous occurrences… most of which we knew were false.
So what did I know?
Then one day I met this Jesus.
He had been arrested the night before, and brought up before the leaders of His people.