Voices of the Passion and Easter - The Soldiers

I have imagined the reactions and thought processes of those people involved in the Good Friday and Easter narrative.

I hope that it will assist you to meditate on these events with fresh thoughts.

We have thrashed thousands of prisoners at the scourging post, all in the name of keeping the peace of the Roman Empire. Yet this One was different.

Usually, when the throngs with sharp stones and shards of bone rip into the prisoner’s back, we receive curses as we are the perpetrators and they see as the cruel enforcers of the enemy’s law. This particular man was unique in that He did not swear at us or the situation – indeed, He remained as quiet as a lamb going to the slaughter.

We were perplexed as we did not quite know what to do in the circumstances, so we covered our embarrassment with mock adulation to the so-called King of the Jews – placing a crown of thorns on His head instead of gold, a reed in His hands instead of a sceptre, a purple robe donating royalty that we would strip from Him, covering Him with spittle instead of flowers, and cursing Him instead of adulation.

When it was the time for this Jesus to go to Golgotha – the place of the skull – to give up His life, we formed a protective guard. We did not want Him to be rescued by His sympathisers or prematurely lynched by His detractors. As far as we concerned, we were doing our duty for the glory of Caesar, nothing more and nothing less.

Although we tried to treat it like any other execution we had performed (such as throwing a die for the possession of His meagre robe), we had a feeling that there was more to this event than met the eye. We undertook the grisly business of hammering the long iron nails through His wrists and ankles, we were splattered by His arterial spray as it covered our heads and tunic.

We heard His final words on the upraised cross, barely audible as He struggled for breath. There were no words of anger or presumed innocence, but of love and purpose. There were no curses raining down on us, but an upward plea to His God to forgive us for we did not know what we were doing.

The sun disappeared at midday and there was an almighty earthquake at the point when He gave up His last breath. These events continued to impress upon us that we had had taken part in a unique event that would change the course of history.

We wondered if we were pawns in a political and religious struggle, merely undertaking what was expected of us, or was there more to it than that as destiny (or whatever you would like to call it) was dictating that we should be part of something special.