The Cross – Part VJanuary 9, 2007
Continued from // The Cross – Part IV
On the hilltop, people were running back to the city and soldiers were shouting at one another as the earth shook. The officer picked up a huge mallet and tossed at a soldier running past and shouted, “Make sure they are dead!” The soldier obeyed and broke the legs of the two criminals that hung with Jesus. They each, in turn, cried out in pain as their lungs were punctured, and then breathed their last. However, the soldier on the right of Jesus had a peculiar peace about his face – although the Roman didn’t notice.
But the Roman Soldier couldn’t bring himself to break Jesus’ legs. He just kneeled at the foot of the Cross, tears dripping down his cheeks. The officer, seeing the soldier’s hesitation, in a panic, ran over and drove his spear into Jesus’ side – puncturing Jesus’ heart. Water and blood gushed out, ensuring that the He was dead.
The soldiers lowered all three crosses and removed the limp bodies hanging from them. As they did so, a rich man walked forward and asked for the body of Jesus. Without even a second glance, the officer said yes and left the body of Jesus where it lay. The Romans then picked up the bodies of the criminals and took them away to a mass grave. Jesus, however, was wrapped in clean white linen and was carried away with honor by four men who came with the rich man. They took him to a new tomb and laid him in there. Then they rolled a great stone in front of the tomb and sealed it. Not long after they left, a squad of Roman soldiers came and stationed themselves about the sealed tomb entrance.
But back on the hilltop, soldier who nailed Jesus to the Cross stood oblivious to all that was happening. He was motionless, staring into space, openly weeping. Lowering his eyes he sobbed, “Certainly this man was innocent. Certainly this man was the Son of God!” Then he broke down and fell to his knees, praising God. When the detachment of soldiers left the hilltop, he had to be drug away, still worshiping the Living God.