Summary: This is a first person sermon from the eyes of the Roman Centurion who was in charge of the death squad that crucified Jesus.
Mark 15: 37-39 (NLT)
Intro: You know how you can tell that Easter is here? You look at the TV schedule. On many of the channels you see programming and movies concerning Biblical times. I have seen Killing Jesus, and numerous shows and documentaries focusing on Jesus or the era that Jesus lived. The continuation of the series The Bible starts tonight. It is called AD and it tells the story of the spread of the Gospel and the Church.
.While most has Jesus in common, there are characters that are in every one of these but are seldom, if ever noticed. They are the Roman Soldiers. Most of the narratives that we see and hear are concerning the interactions between Jesus and the Jewish people. This morning, on this Easter morning, I want to take a few minutes and look at the Easter story in a different way. I would like for us to experience the Easter story through the eyes of a Roman soldier. One particular Roman soldier actually. He is brought into the Easter story in our text this morning in Mark chapter 15.
. Jesus has been crucified, He is hanging on the cross and Mark records this in verses 37-39.
37Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
38And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
. This man, this Roman soldier came to a realization that all mankind will eventually come to.
. He realized that Jesus was the son of God.
. How did he come to that realization, that’s what I want to explore this morning. Let’s look at Easter through the eyes of that Roman soldier.
( Go into a first person monologue)
. My Name is Longinus. I am a centurion in the Roman army which means that I am in command of 100 men.
I also have another command within that group of 100 men. I am in charge of the “Death Squads” the men who crucify the ones sentenced to death by the Roman Empire.
My title is “Exactor Mortis” which means supervisor of these men.
. This execution that is to happen tomorrow is pretty routine. We will scourge three men and then we will crucify them. Pretty cut and dry.
. As my day begins, I am called to the palace of the governor of the region, Pontius Pilate and he has this Jewish prisoner there and he tells us to take him and flog him. His name is Jesus.
. I have heard a little bit about this man Jesus but never anything bad.
. I have a centurion friend who swears that Jesus healed a servant of his who was sick without even going to his house. I trust my friend but I am a little skeptical of these miraculous healings. It doesn’t matter tough because I am a soldier and I follow orders.
. We take Jesus and usually when we Romans flogged someone, we used a whip that had three tendrils coming of the handle and we would tie pieces of jagged rock or pieces of old bones to the end of the tendrils. What this did was actually sink into the skin of the person being flogged and when the whip was pulled away, part of their skin would come with it. Even though we were trained to do it this way, it always turned my stomach. What an awful way to torture someone before you killed them. Many times men would die during this process and never make it to the crucifixion site.
.Not so with Jesus. We also had a whip that had lead balls attached to the end of it. We used this when we wanted to make sure that the person being whipped would survive the beating.
. My men beat Jesus with these whips and then they did something unusual, they began mocking him and calling him names. They spit on him and made a crown out of a “Nabeca” shrub. It really is a beautiful shrub with elliptical leaves and small green flowers but it also has thorns that are at least an inch long. They formed a crown out of this shrub and pushed it onto the head of this man. The one inch thorns digging into his skin and his face being streaked with blood.
. Then they put an old robe of purple on him and gave him a reed as a scepter and mockingly humiliated him calling him the King of the Jews.
. As we were going back to the governor’s palace people were gathering because the governor would traditionally release one prisoner for the Jewish people during Passover and the people were gathering to see who he would release.