God's Roadmap

"Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart" (Proverbs 7:3).


Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Soldier's View of the Scourging and Crucifixion of Christ

by Barbara Latta

Quintus wiped his brow and looked over the bodies mingling with dust, rebellion and r
Jesus was whipped with a flagrum.
eligion. His position from horseback gave him a good view of the populous. Why couldn’t these Jews learn to live in peace under Roman rule? Now another religious zealot was on the way to his death because of ideals. This one claimed to be the Son of God.

What God would allow his son to be killed? Lightning bolts would fall out of the sky if a hand was raised against a son of Caesar.

If he wasn’t the son of a god, then who was he? Never before had Quintus seen a man endure scourging without crying out for mercy from his tormentors. The only sound uttered had been moans of pain but no begging for the lash to stop which had only brought on more stripes from Cassius. And Cassius was the most brutal soldier who wielded a flagrum.

The condemned man had stood before Pilate in all his bloodied glory wearing a dirty purple robe and the mockery of a crown. Prison guards had relieved their boredom with another victim to taunt. Woven thorns encircled his head piercing tender flesh and drawing more blood to run down the already mutilated face.

Now the prisoner struggled to walk up the Via Dolorosa on the way to Golgotha, the place of
Seven inch spikes were nailed Jesus to the cross.
execution. Quintus was tired and wanted this over with. Keeping these crowds from another up-rising was a full time job.

“Keep moving,” he yelled to the soldiers under his command. The man in the street fell under the weight of the 125-pound beam bearing down on the raw, bloodied shoulders.
“You there,” Quintus shouted to a man in the crowed. “Carry the crossbeam for him!” The man shrank back in fear as if he were the one about to be crucified. One of the soldiers grabbed him and pulled forward on the man’s arm slinging him out into the road next to the condemned one. The spectator reached down and helped the man lying on the ground. Tenderness replaced the fear in the man’s expression and he helped the victim up, putting the crossbeam on his own shoulders.

Finally, they could get moving again. Maybe the day would be over soon and Quintus could get some rest.

At the top of the hill, Quintus dismounted and surveyed the leering audience. The man’s condemners stood nearby.  He supposed they were there to watch and make sure the execution was carried out. Even the man’s own kind had turned against him.  

A guttural moan pierced the air as what was left of the body was thrown on the ground and his arms stretched out on the wood. Seven-inch iron spikes were placed against his wrist and the hammer came down hard splitting flesh and attaching the appendage to the crossbeam. The fingers drew up around the metal in claw-like positions as the nerves in the arms were pierced. The third nail was driven into the ankle joints and the beam with the sacrifice attached was raised and placed on the pole. One of the soldiers climbed a ladder and nailed a sign at the top of the cross. Women’s sobs were heard across the valley while the crucified man hung between heaven and earth.

No one being crucified ever refused the offered pain killer of myrrh-infused wine. The one called Jesus had turned his head away when the drink was placed near his face. Still no words left his mouth to condemn his captors, instead he forgave them. Forgave them? How could a man treated this way forgive anyone?

Thorns encircled His head in mockery.
The other prisoners were begging for mercy, one of them even taunting the man in the middle. Apparently the other one had a change of heart and finally silenced his partner in crime and begged for mercy from Jesus of Nazareth. How could this man hanging by nails give mercy to anyone? He needed mercy himself.

While those under Quintus’ command gambled for the man’s clothes, they all waited for the prisoners to die. Quintus watched the one called the Son of God. He had witnessed many crucifixions but he had never seen a man die with so much dignity and humility while in the midst of so much pain. The man raised his head and said, “I thirst.” Quintus didn’t wait for one of his soldiers to grab the wine, instead he pushed a spear into the sponge and dipped into the liquid and raised it to the man’s cracked and swollen lips offering what little relief he could. He was supposed to be supervising the execution of a criminal, yet now he was offering comfort to a condemned man.

 But something pulled him toward the massacred face and the eyes that were able to see beneath the puffed lids looked straight into his soul. Quintus almost dropped the spear but he held on lest some see him and think he was weak.

His gaze couldn’t leave the man’s body. The other prisoners had not been beaten like this one and yet they cried in agony. This man’s pain was obvious, but he looked up toward the sky and cried out to a Father begging to not be forsaken.

The sky grew so dark Quintus could barely see those around him. The ground shook and the man spoke his last words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The head hung against the lifeless chest and Quintus looked again at the sign bearing the title “King of the Jews.”

Son of God? Yes, Quintus thought. I think He really was.


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Roman soldier's view of the crucifixion (click to tweet)

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