The nation grows silent after “savior’s” ominous last words.
April, 28 A.D.
The nation is still reeling from what was supposed to be a simple public spectacle like every other crucifixion. One Roman centurion gave us private insight into the events that turned a typical execution into a harrowing experience that all of Jerusalem was unprepared for. He wishes to remain anonymous.
“Of course we thought he should die,” the centurion told us, shaking his head dumbfoundedly. “Why else would they have taken him into custody? The chief priests AND King Herod had told us that he was committing treason by claiming to be the King of the Jews… and the people wanted him dead! He didn’t even flinch when Pilate asked the crowd if they would release him or the brute Barabbas. It’s almost like he knew his fate.”
The story folds out seemingly normal from here, the centurion informed us. Jesus, “King of the Jews” was convicted of his crimes and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. But what happens next left this once stoic officer reeling in doubt.
Once they brought him to the crucifixion site, they bound and nailed Jesus to the cross, placing him with other criminals who were sentenced to die that day. But instead of cursing the officers or the bloodthirsty crowd, Jesus spoke words of kindness over them, asking God to forgive them. “He even told the criminal next to him that he’d join him in paradise that day. I couldn’t believe it- I’ve seen hundreds of men die on that cross. No one acts like that. You can’t! I believe he was sure he’d get the deliverance people mocked him about.”
A group of women who had gone to mourn Jesus reported that the sky went dark around noon. “It was as if heaven shut its eyes on our sinful world. It was too disgusting for even God to watch. Everyone who had put poor Mary’s boy on that cross ought to be ashamed of themselves.” After approximately 3 hours it became clear that Jesus would die soon, and he asked the centurion for drink.
“I knew he was going to die very soon. You begin to recognize the signs,” he said, visibly upset. “I had to offer that bit of mercy for him. We began to realize was wrongfully convicted. Then he said the oddest thing- I wasn’t sure if it was to me or to the crowd- but he said, ‘It is finished’ and then cried out and his spirit was gone.”
It is finished. Those were the words that stunned the crowd and all who heard of the events in Jerusalem yesterday. But what did it mean? Jesus’ disciples have disappeared and we cannot recover anything from them regarding the incident, but the crowd seems to be split on their interpretations of Jesus’ last words. Some believe it means we’re finished- that since we sent Jesus to the cross, God will send us all to Hell in a fit of rage. Others think it simply means his time on this Earth was finished.
“I don’t think so,” the centurion resolved, “I don’t think that’s right at all. I saw him in his final moments. I saw the resolve in his eyes. I don’t blame the crowd for thinking those things, it’s what I’d expect from ordinary men. But I could see that he was no ordinary man. He never glowered at us. He spoke of forgiveness and paradise. What if this means that our suffering is finished? What if he meant to take away our pain and suffering? I can’t help but believe him now. Praise God, this was a righteous man. Surely this man was the son of God!”