I Helped Kill Jesus - A Brief Study on The Resurrection of Christ
[Warning: The Crucifixion was a violent act and the culture was cruel. A historical description of the Roman method of punishment for their military is contained in this article on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Be warned there is graphic wording here to help the reader understand the circumstances behind the attitude that would be present in a Roman soldier that would have guarded the body of Christ. Caution advised.]
Circumstances behind the historic account of Jesus' life and death were unique to the time and it is not hard to recreate how it may have felt to be the one of the soldiers whose job was to execute and then guard the King of kings' body against any tampering postmortem. Roman methodology was done in one fashion and methods were carefully documented. Part of this reason is that in the Roman mindset, even a criminal who disrespected the law in some fashion could have been acting under direction of one of the gods, and thus needed to be treated fairly so as not to anger any gods involved.
Crucifixion was the most hideous way of death ever conceived, and thus was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The accounts of the historians at the time are like mini horror stories written by today's most graphic novelists. It was done in a personal fashion, by the sweat of the brow of Roman soldiers. They did their gristly job with accuracy and zest, partly because if they did not the attending authorities may punish them, and partly because they were "professionals" with a standard to uphold. The Romans had a code of conduct for every official act and any that varied from that code of behavior were dispatched with similar viciousness.
Written from this perspective, the following poem is of the viewpoint of a Roman soldier that is defending himself to his superiors and explaining something that was beyond his understanding. His prisoner was gone. The explanation of how that happened must have shocked those in charge because they did not punish any of the guards, instead they devised a lie to cover for them. What was so clear to them that they were willing to incur the wrath of the gods for breaking the Roman code for execution and punishment?
Imagine the centurion before the magistrate, on one knee giving this eyewitness account of how the body of the Man he was guarding, was no longer in his custody.
"I'm here to tell my story O King, the Man is gone, that's true
But I didn't let Him go, I'm here to say, and to defend myself to you,
I came from humble beginnings, my parents were dirt poor
Each night my father would come from the field, with hands bleeding and sore,
I saw my mother sacrifice her food, and I saw her weep
Giving birth to my little brother, was yet another mouth to feed,
So as soon as I was able, I joined the army of the king
By saving my place at the table, some joy I'd hoped to bring,
The army raised me hard, they raised me mean, and I'd have to learn to kill
I obeyed the orders they told to me, and threw away my will,
I'd seen "Christs" come and I'd seen "Christs" go, and they all looked just the same
It's little wonder I didn't recognize, the real One when He came,
It was a crucifixion like any other, one of many we had to do
These things got so routine for us, we'd play games to keep it new,
When we heard that He thought that He was King, we made Him a crown of thorns
And I pressed it down upon His head, and said, 'behold a King is born!'
But He looked at me with those eyes of His, and then I looked at Him
And He said to me, 'Father, forgive them this day, for all their many sins.'
I felt something happen inside my head, and deep inside my heart
Quickly I withdrew from Him, no longer wanting a part
Of the murder that was happening there, by our many sinful hands
When they saw the horror come over me, they couldn't understand,
I should have made a move to take Him down, but I froze there in my shoes
It was a battle I couldn't win, so instead I watched Him lose
Drop after drop of His precious blood, and more and more of His life
As the men gambled for His clothes, one got angry and pulled a knife,
From the cross I heard Him say, "God, why have you forsaken Me?"
Then suddenly the sky went dark, so dark I couldn't see
The men that were beside me, or the torch that was in my hand
I cried, "Truly this is the Son of God, and not just any man!"
It came the time to break their legs, for it was the Jewish holy time
The Man Jesus was already dead, so a soldier pierced His side
I saw two men take the body, in our sight they wound Him up
We lay Him securely in the tomb, and if that was not enough,
We rolled the stone in it's place, then sealed it tight with care
We posted a guard and didn't see, any disciples anywhere,
We had heard a rumor that His followers, were going to try to steal
The body of their Savior, that did miracles and that healed,
The first night and day went by smoothly, and the second did as well
But early on the third day, I heard the thud of a man that fell,
As I turned to see what had happened, a light streamed down from above
Two shining men were standing there, moved the stone with just a shove,
The moment that I saw them, I fell down as if made of lead
Then I saw the Man Jesus, raise Himself up from the dead,
Then the angel turned and looked at me, and only I could move
And I went inside the cave, to see the evidence to prove
To you my lord what had happened, and I'll tell you what I saw
His wrappings were all empty, still together with no flaw,
Yet inside there was no body, and something else was strange
The cloth that covered His face was folded, very neat and all arranged
On my honor as a soldier, in the army of the king
I'm standing behind my statement, whatever it may bring,
This Man was not a man my lord, He was God's only Son
And I tell you now I'm a believer, and I praise God I now am one.
This is the perspective of the soldier that was to tell the king just how his prisoner escaped. Roman law about this was specific. When a Roman was guarding a person (or thing), should that person (living or dead) come to be out of his custody, that soldier met a horrendous end. This punishment was devised to cause men to dread it so badly that no soldier would ever dare allow an escape to occur.
The punishment was that the man was skinned alive by making an incision all around the edge of the body and pulling the skin away from the muscle tissue, dousing it with oil, then lighting it on fire. The resulting death lingered and absolutely nothing could be done to reverse it. With this in mind our fictional character in the above poem went to inform his king about the events that led to the body of Jesus being missing. As a result the records include no note that any of the soldiers died because of this. Death was the mandate, yet none met this fate. All the soldiers present told the same story and none paid the price. Instead, the text is worded so as to let us see that those in charge did believe He rose from the dead. Instead of handing down a punishment, they started a rumor that the disciples indeed did steal the body.
What a shock this must have been to the soldiers that had literally torn Jesus' body to shreds with their whips and by the pulling of the robe from Him that reopened all His wounds. They saw the Man raised from the dead. They saw angels and saw the rock move. They witnessed the wrappings as just an empty shell with the mummy wraps that Jewish custom demanded hardened (like a cast on a broken bone) but not cut- just empty.
If you saw all this, would it change you? I think it would me but people can be hard. It would be hard to tell my superiors about something like this but if my heart was indeed changed, I would have no other recourse but to tell the truth. It would make me rethink any indoctrination about Roman deities taught to me as a child. I would have to throw away the things I believed about all the gods and now cling to the doctrine of the hated Christ followers.
Jesus is a merciful God. He does not want any to die but for all to come to Him for the forgiveness of sin. He is omnipresent and comes to every person and makes Himself known. He comes to mankind through His creation, through his sicknesses and all their experiences. Intrinsically, He lets each man know that all he must do is desire to know of the Creator, and once that desire is there He reveals Himself to that person. This, I believe, is true of every person so that no one has an excuse that they did not know how to get to heaven when they die.
What have you done when Jesus has come knocking on the door of your heart? Have you dismissed Him and given yourself a pass to live your life any way you want? We only have so long, and then our lives are over, then what happens?
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
We all are born sinners and we cannot go to heaven with our sin account stuck to us. The Bible says we will pay for every sin, every idle word, every deed. Unless, of course, we remember that Jesus came to earth, to suffer and die for our sins and to pay for them Himself. He wants to pay for yours but He will not force you to believe and turn to Him. He will ask and make Himself known over and over but will not knock the door of your heart down. He waits for you to open the door. If a man does not come to Him, he will die in his sins. God will have no choice but to transport you to the place that all sinners go, to the place designed as punishment for Satan and his angels and not for you. The simple fact is that sin cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
So, what must a person do to turn to Christ?
First, in order to be with God forever, you must believe in Christ and that He is the only Way of salvation.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Second, you must understand you are a sinner and that you now live a life that your sinning nature dictates.
And third you must throw you life into the hands of Jesus, allowing Him to come in and lead it.
You must call on (pray) Him to save you.
"All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
If you have never prayed a prayer to God and called on the Jesus to save you from your sins, pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I do not deserve heaven because of the sins in my life. I believe that You came to earth to pay for my sin. I believe that You died and were buried and raised from the dead. Please Jesus, forgive me for my sins and save me. I am tired of living life my way. I turn from my sins and my way of life, and turn to You as the only Way of salvation. I promise to always follow You, wherever You go. I pray this in Jesus' holy name. Amen.