What would it be like to be in Jerusalem during the most pivotal week in human history—the week of Christ’s arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection? Here is your frontrow seat to all the action as seen through the eyes of a Roman centurion.
Date: Seven in the morning, Saturday, April 8, 30 A.D.
Annas meets with Pontius Pilate and asks that Jesus’ tomb be guarded.
Pilate was seated even as I saw him yesterday. He wore a rather haggard look, as though he had slept on the bloodstained rocks of Golgotha. He motioned for the temple delegation to step forward. I waited at the back of the room in a repetition of the governor’s late-day interview with Joseph of Arimathea.
Annas bowed and began. “Sir, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’”
A strange tingle ran through me as he said this. Pilate rubbed his hands.
Annas continued. “So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead.” Then he concluded by lifting a bony finger and saying, “This last deception will be worse than the first.”
On hearing this, Pilate sighed deeply, then beckoned me forward. There was worry in his eyes. “The centurion here, Marcus Longinus, is fully acquainted with the case of the Galilean prophet. He oversaw his crucifixion.” Then he addressed me directly. “Is that not so?”
I nodded. “Yes, sir. It is as you say.”
With that he raised his hands and motioned both parties together. Then, speaking directly to all of us, he said, “Take a guard. Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” Rubbing his guilt- stained hands once more, the Badger got up and skulked off.
Annas was jubilant. With eagerness in his voice, he turned to address me. “How soon can you have your troops at the tomb?”
“We should be there in about an hour.”
“Excellent! These two gentlemen will meet you there. They will ensure that all is in order. Understood?”
“Yes. Understood,” I said. Then I addressed the Pharisees. “Do you know which tomb? Do you know where it is?”
Annas answered for them. “Ah, they know it well.” He gave a contemptuous snort. “The traitor’s tomb, Joseph of Arimathea!”
“I will bring my men and meet you there then.” I gave a slight bow with my head. The chamberlain saw us to the door, and then I was off, back to my home.
I shook my head several times in disbelief as I trudged back. Every time I tried to extricate myself from this Messiah pit, this kingdom of God affair, this abysmal hole, I would find myself sucked in even deeper. And now it had happened again. Was there no escape?
Would I ever be allowed to speak my mind before Pilate?
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