Still only late afternoon and I’m waiting for the cool of the evening…Wiping sweat off my face with a linen rag, I am literally itching to take off my helmet and wipe my shaven head too. The leather and metal protection may ensure my safety against rabble supporters of these populist Jews but it certainly makes my scalp hot and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I have to stand guard here until this terrorist leader actually dies, and then report back. We can’t have him liberated and still alive to mount another campaign of civil unrest! Can’t be much longer… he was beaten up earlier and is now crucified, hanging above me on a wooden frame and nailed in place. Most of the dissenters have sloped off now, weeping and crestfallen to see their so called ‘saviour’ in such a sorry state. Just a few women and some old man still lingering, waiting for the end. His friends have all scattered…
The dissident leader is sinking now, I can tell. His slumped body is much weaker with the blood loss and the pain of having his head crowned with thorns… So much for calling himself the king of Jews – not that they actually want him as their king. He is just as much a usurper to those in the temple as he is to us Romans. Apparently, he wants to open the kingdom of heaven to all of us sinners – as if any ordinary mortal could! Who does he think he is? Certainly not royalty that’s for sure!
The older woman must be his mother. There are all sorts of stories about her, and about the other woman, also called Mary – she looks a bit of all right. Not sure who she is but she was definitely part of the insurgent group; they used to call each other disciples… but this woman, although a follower of Jesus, was more than some sort of colleague. Wonder who she will follow now? She should be married at her age, but nothing has been registered as far as I know… A woman on her own needs protection. Maybe the old guy is looking after her. Joseph somebody. He looks well off, anyway. They are waiting to take Jesus off the cross; carrying a length of good linen for his shroud. That must have cost a bit, as do the oils they have to anoint him with… No expense spared for this terrorist with very good friends, but even they cannot save him. The sun is sinking, the sky still blue but the heat is not as hard to bear as it was earlier.
As soon as this man is dead and taken for burial, I can go home and relax with my family.
The younger woman asks me if she can take the body now. Jesus certainly looks dead, but I will have to make sure. I do have my orders, so I shout to him and he doesn’t stir, but his eyes open and look down at me. Astonishingly, he looks peaceful as if the physical torment doesn’t actually touch his eyes and mind. I turn away; he gives me the creeps. We wait a bit longer… The sky is darkening, which is unusual. The sun is still on the horizon but around us it feels like night is falling, although we can still see Jesus on the cross…
Suddenly, and quite clearly, despite being almost gone, the condemned man says aloud “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do !” and then he goes limp, just as a loud clap of thunder makes us all jump and the air turns very chill. I don’t mind admitting, I feel very ill at ease…
The women are wailing and huddled together and the older man is on his knees. I want to get out of here, so to prove a point, I use my lance to pierce the dead man’s side. There is no reaction so, as far as I can tell, he is now dead and no longer a threat to society. No-one alive, could ignore such a wound.
The air clears a little, a ray of weak sunlight slips through the dark clouds and illuminates the cross, as I call a couple of passing comrades to help maneuver the frame down.The women can take his body away now. At last, my job is almost done. I shall tell my commander the rebel leader is dead and we can all settle down again. This is the fateful day we regain peace in the region. A good Friday with a job well done!
Tomorrow is the Jewish sabbath, and I thankfully, have the day off.!