P.S. An Officer's Report
- Tuesday, March 26, 2002
I'll never forget it . . . They were the most terrifying days of my life . . .
The year was 32 A.D. and I was stationed in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. The real stir began on the first day of the week. I was on duty at the gate of the city when sentries brought reports of a vast crowd moving down the road from the Mt. of Olives.
This was not the first time this sort of thing happened, yet, it was different somehow . . . more joyous and peaceful.
I'll never forget how the leader looked as he rode through the gate on a colt of a donkey . . . Not exactly the most majestic of methods, but nevertheless the crowd treated this Jesus of Nazareth like royalty.
The city was terribly crowded . . . I knew it would be, so I arranged to be out of town for a few days. Having nothing else planned, I set out to find out more about this Jesus.
I discovered that there were those who claimed he was the Son of God. He had traveled all over the country teaching and healing the sick. These claims greatly upset the Jewish religious leader, who now sought to quiet his followers . . . and him.
When I returned, I was issued my orders. I was to serve duty for an execution. They had scheduled to crucify two thieves and one other person. I hated this form of punishment, but those who got it generally deserved it. When I was told who the third person was, I was shocked.
"How can this be?" I asked. "He just received the royal welcome the first of the week."
It seemed the religious leaders had arrested Jesus and then incited a crowd to convince Pilate that Jesus should be crucified.
I watched as he was handed over by the laughing and jeering legionaries. His skin was shredded and hanging in ribbon. He could barely stand, much less walk. So to speed things along, I grabbed a man from Cyrene to carry the cross.
When we reached the top of the hill, I was amazed to see Jesus willingly lay on the cross and stretch out his hands to be nailed. I had never witnessed anybody do that before. It was as if he wanted to die.
Everything was going as planned until noon . . .
I had just sat down to eat when the sky went completely dark. This wasn't just a simple cloud hiding the sun, for it was a cloudless day. Rather, it was as if night had suddenly fallen.
The fearless men I once commanded soon became nervous and began pacing about in the torchlight, speaking in hushed tones.
Suddenly, at about 3 o'clock, the stillness was shattered as Jesus cried out, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?!?!"
Some of the people standing there with me heard him and said that he was calling out for someone by the name of Elijah.
One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge, soaked it in wine and offered it to Jesus on a stick.
Then Jesus said, "It is finished."
I stood there with my men and said, "Surely this must be the Son of God."
Immediately, the ground began to shake, rocks split apart, and graves were opened.
Not wanting to lose control of my unit, and upon the request of some of the Jewish leaders, I gave orders to speed the deaths of the prisoners. Jesus, however, already looked dead so I told one of my men to just stab him in the side with a spear.
When my shift was over I quickly went to my quarters to assess all that I had seen.
The next day my unit and I were assigned the task of guarding the tomb where Jesus had been laid (there was concern that someone might steal the body).
On the first day of the week, while on my way to the tomb, I passed some people headed to the city. I thought it strange because they were dressed in grave clothes. Stranger still was the scene that met me at the tomb . . . scattered all about were the guards I had left on duty the night before.
At first, I thought they were all dead, but I soon found the officer in charge hiding behind a rock. He recounted how a man, bright as lightening, streaked out of the sky. The officer and his men fell to the ground as this heavenly being rolled back the stone from in front of the tomb and proceeded to perch upon the top of it.
I asked the officer where the man had gone, but he only shook his head and said that he had no idea but that he hoped he didn't come back.
I then decided to inspect the tomb.
When I looked inside, I was astounded to see not one, but two giant men dressed in robes of brilliant white. They just looked at me and smiled. They acted as if they knew something I didn't and were about to laugh over the secret.
Then one of them spoke.
He said, "He is not here. He is risen."
I nodded and left.
Yes, he was gone, and considering everything that had happened, I had no doubt that He was alive.
The Son of God lives!
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