Witnesses of the Passion Week of Jesus- Joel Meets the Roman Centurion

This week I will post a few more times with each story relating to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This first story is about the Roman Centurion who said of Jesus, “Truly this was the son of God.”

Witnesses of the Passion Week of Jesus- Joel Meets the Roman Centurion by Matthew Kohrell

Wednesday afternoon, so Joel was following his usual routine of having coffee while reading and preparing for ministry that evening. As student ministries director at church, Wednesday evening kept him busy with the youth group on top of his work with college students. Trying to think about his message for the week of remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus, Joel wanted to convey the authentic experience, but was struggling with how do it.

“Do you need anything else Joel?” Joel looked up from his laptop to Jessica’s welcome interruption. He had come to appreciate her work volunteering for the group and her gentle spirit. “Maybe another espresso, I need some inspiration too. Prayers are always welcome.” Joel replied.

“Well espresso is on me. Inspiration can come from Jesus and prayers are free of charge.” Jessica grinned as she spoke with her trusted friend.

“Thanks little sister. Now I need to get back to work. I want to impress on the group this evening what it was really like when Jesus suffered.” Joel confided in his volunteer. As Jessica walked back to the counter, Joel prayed for insight.

Jessica returned with the espresso and teased her friend, “Any inspiration yet?”

“Not yet, but this will help, thanks.” Joel responded lightheartedly.

Joel bowed his head for a moment asking the Lord to help him with what he wanted to get across to his group tonight. As he was praying, a man came up to him. “Excuse, you are Joel the youth director, aren’t you?” Startled Joel looked up to see a man who looked like he could play any sport he wanted or perhaps be a federal agent of some kind and definitely not a man anyone would want to mess with.

“Uh, yes, why do you ask?” Joel hesitantly asked.

“I have never been one to mince words. My name is Marcus and I have come to share with you about the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus.” Marcus introducing himself.

Jessica walked over to greet the man knowing something important was about to happen for Joel. She had seen the encounters happen since her own one with Mary Magdalene. “Can I get you anything sir?” Jessica asked.

Marcus replied, “Same as Joel. Nothing like a shot of espresso to get going.”

“Sure thing. Joel, I think inspiration is about to happen.” Jessica giggled a little.

Marcus looked at Joel, “Let’s get right to the point Joel. My name is Marcus and I am here to share with you my first hand account of what happened to Jesus. In the bible I am referred to as The Roman Centurion and my only quote  was when I said, ‘Truly this was the son of God’ I wasn’t only there to see it. I was in charge of his crucifixion.”

Joel sat up in his chair. Marcus had his full attention. “Go on. I am listening.”

Marcus continued, “I never enjoyed crucifixions. There was no honor in executing people at least for me. I had fought in battles throughout the Roman Empire. At least in battle the opponents can try to defend themselves. With crucifixions it was taking a lamb to slaughter. First we were ordered to whip Jesus with something called the cat of nine tail. It was a gruesome way to be punished. Pilate was hoping that would be enough but it wasn’t. The calls were for Jesus to be crucified. After he was whipped, we forced a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition and blood was trickling down his face as we led him out to Golgatha.Because he was so weak after being badly beaten, he fell and could not carry his cross. We made prisoners carry their own crosses to their own executions, but he couldn’t, so we forced a man named Simon to carry it for him.”

Joel was transfixed by Marcus’s description and Marcus was intense about his memories, so they didn’t notice Jessica set the espresso down for Marcus until she started to walk away. “Oh, thank you.” Marcus quickly told her. Jessica returned to the counter.

Marcus went on, “The thing that caught my attention was that as my men drove the large nails into his wrists and feet, Jesus cried out in pain, but he never cursed at us or spit at us. Those were normal reactions of men we crucified. Even when my men hoisted up his cross and set it into place, he cried out in pain but didn’t swear at us. The things he said while he was hanging on the cross really got to me especially when he cried out go God saying, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do’. It was the first and only time I saw someone being crucified asking for God to forgive the people doing it to them. When Jesus died, I was so moved in my spirit that I risked it all by expressing, ‘Truly this was the son of God’  a risk because for any Roman soldier to say anyone else but Caesar was God could mean punishment, but that was exactly what I came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. As he was dying and after he died, strange things happened. An eerie darkness came over the land. As soon as he died, an earthquake shook the land. There was definitely something way beyond normal about the man we had just put to death and I knew it. I also know for sure he was dead. Roman soldiers always made sure of it by breaking the legs of the ones being crucified, but when we came to Jesus, he was already dead, so we only pierced his side.”

Joel took a deep breath, “I can’t even imagine being there. Oh how he suffered for us.”

“But it doesn’t end there.” Marcus asserted. “We rolled a huge stone in front of his tomb. There is no way anyone could come take the body away because I posted guards there who if they failed in their duty, they could be put to death. Jesus was dead and buried forever in that tomb as far as I was concerned, but then on the 3rd day, early in the morning, something happened. That huge stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Jesus had come back from the dead, not a ghost, but alive again. The word is resurrected. I hope my first hand account helps you Joel. I need to go now. See you again.”

With that Marcus was gone and Joel sat there stunned by what had just transpired. Jessica walked over and kindly asked, “How is the inspiration?”

“It is strong now, but what just happened?” Joel was shaken up a bit.

“These kinds of things have been happening here lately Joel. Can I share with you about when I first came in here as a customer and met a woman named Mary?” Jessica gently asked.

Joel nodded yes and motioned for her to join him. Jessica continued, “I was so nervous the first day I came in here…………”

For Jessica’s Story of meeting Mary Magdalene here is the link- Jessica’s Encounter at The Harbor Coffee Shop

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