Summary: This is a dramatic monolgue of the Roman Centurion and some of what He may have seen and thought about the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurection of Christ.
Title: The Roman Centurion’s view of the Cross
Text: Mark 15:21-39
Date: 4/5/2007: Location: Franklin AARP
I expected nothing but a routine day of work for my men and me. Jerusalem was for the most part "easy duty." Our job was to keep the peace and preserve law and order. However, from time to time we were called upon to crucify a criminal or two. Which really didn’t bother us, since we were Roman soldiers, and had been trained to kill.
Driving nails through a person’s wrists and fastening them to a cross was something that had almost become second nature for us. That particular day we weren’t exactly sure how many people we would be crucifying. The matter hadn’t been settled until the early morning hours, long after I had gone to bed. We already knew that a couple of common thieves would be crucified, but we were unsure about a third man.
A political game was being played between our Chief of State, Pontius Pilate, who was a weakling that we didn’t respect very much, and the Chief Priest of the Jews. Pilate really wanted to execute a political prisoner by the name of Barabas. He had been arrested for trying to stir up a insurrection and overthrow the Roman empire. Which was really quite humorous to us, just the thought of it, made us laugh.
But the Chief priests wanted a man named Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. We had heard about Jesus, of course, everybody had heard about him. And to be honest at first his popularity with the Jewish people concerned us a little. But when we investigated him we determined that Jesus of Nazareth was by no means a political threat to the Roman Empire. In fact Jesus told his followers to love their enemies.
But He had stirred up quite a religious mess among the Jews however, which was why the Pharisee’s and the Chief Priests wanted to get rid of Him. So there was a tug-of-war taking place between Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders. We knew that Pilate was just a spineless politician, and that the Chief priests were much more determined to get what they wanted, and would continue to pressure Pilate until he gave into their demands, which he eventually did. So, our job would be to crucify two common criminals and this religious zealot named Jesus Christ.
It would be easy work for my men and me. Killing had become just a routine part of our jobs. It didn’t really bother us. After all it was what we were paid to do. But this day and this execution would prove to be different from all the rest.
What I saw and what I heard the day Jesus Christ died changed my life forever. I saw what He endured. I heard what He said. The Last 6 hours He lived made a life dramatic impact on me. He was different from all of the other men I had seen die. He said and did things in the last hours of His life like no man I’d ever seen.
The day began just like any other day. I had my normal breakfast. Then I walked through the streets of Jerusalem on my way to the palace prison. But as I walked along, I sensed that emotions were running a little higher than normal. Jerusalem was crowded, thousands of Jews had arrived for the observance of their Passover (which was one of their religious holidays).
I wasn’t a religious man, in fact I believed religion was just something for weak people, like the Jews. But everyone on the streets that morning had an opinion about Jesus. Some were quite fond of him. Many spoke of His kindness toward them, some of them even claimed that he had healed them. Others spoke of how their hearts had been stirred when they heard Him teach, and how they had become convinced that He was a prophet of God. On the other hand, many people, especially the Jewish religious leaders were infuriated by his Radical religious teachings. Caiaphas their High priest made the comment that it would be better for him to die, than for the whole nation to suffer the wrath of Rome.
I didn’t pay much attention to them, because all of this was just a good example of the kind of religious nonsense that the Jews always seemed to be talking about. Nonetheless the streets were abuzz; no one seemed neutral about Jesus, or about the day’s activities. I realized on my way to the palace that morning, that I might have to be more alert than usual. Because some of his supporters might try to rescue him or his over zealous enemies might attempt to take matters into their own hands and kill him themselves.