tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based upon the crucifixion accounts in the Bible

Episode NT32 – The Soldier’s story

‘I saw it all. You see, I was in the Roman army at the time and I lived in Jerusalem. We’d ‘eard about Jesus and many of us ‘ad seen ‘im. ‘E didn’t look anything special, but they kept telling us about the miracles’e’d done, and the things ‘e’d said about God. We thought everyone loved Jesus – but we were wrong!’

‘In the middle of the night we got ordered to go and arrest Jesus, and one of ‘is followers, a man named Judas, took us to ‘im in some kind of garden in the middle of nowhere so we could arrest ‘im! Why ‘e needed arresting I’ll never know! It’s not as if ‘e ever did anything wrong. Still, orders is orders, so me and me men went with Judas and some of the Jewish guards to this garden – and there was Jesus. (P) Judas was scum! ‘E led us right to Jesus, ‘is own friend – someone ‘e’d followed and lived with for three years, and then shows us in the darkness exactly who ‘e was by giving ’im a welcoming kiss – the kiss of a friend … becoming the kiss of betrayal!’

‘Well, at that point we arrested Jesus and took ‘im to the Jewish leaders who hate ‘im. We went back to our barracks for some sleep. But apparently, when ‘e gets to the Jewish leaders, they accuse ‘im of all kinds of rubbish – an’ no one can agree with what anyone else says! It’s a shambles. But then the ‘igh priest asks Jesus if ‘e’s the Son of God? ‘N Jesus says – Yeah, ‘e is! This makes the leaders go potty and they demand ‘is death. Mind you, I reckon they’d already decided they wanted ‘im dead before they even asked that question. – And anyway, what worried me a little was, what if Jesus was telling the truth? What if ‘e really was the Son of God?’

‘Anyway, then, we ‘ear that Jesus was kinda beaten up by the Jewish leaders and taken to our boss, Pilate and Pilate starts to question Jesus about all the false things that the Jewish leaders have said about ‘im. Pilate’s not stupid, ‘e knows that they’re just jealous of Jesus and want ‘im out the way so they can keep their own privileged positions. Then ‘e asks Jesus – ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’

‘Jesus answers that one and says that his Kingdom is not of this world! (P) And Pilate gets a little worried about that answer. And as Jesus hasn’t shown any signs of being either dangerous or guilty of anything, Pilate starts to think, ‘I better let ‘im go!’

‘Now, it was the time of a special feast in Jerusalem called Passover when each year Pilate lets one of the prisoners, who we’ve worked really hard to catch, go free! So we’re none to ‘appy about this idea, but apparently it keeps the Jews ‘appy! Anyway, Pilate doesn’t want to execute Jesus, so he goes before a ‘uge crowd and tries to make them agree to let Jesus go! But they refused! I think the Jewish leaders were down in the crowd telling the people to shout against Jesus. And then, the people start to demand that someone else, a murderer no less, called Barabbas, be set free! It made no sense to me!’

‘So Barabbas – the murdering scum that ‘e is – gets released and Pilate starts asking the crowd what ‘e should do with Jesus! At first ‘e suggests that ‘e has ‘im whipped and set free. But as I watch I see those religious leaders out in the crowd shouting as loud as they can for Jesus to be crucified! Crucified! ‘E’s innocent and they want to kill ‘im with one of the nastiest deaths that’s ever been thought of? Pilate didn’t like the idea of that, you could tell, but when the Jewish leaders started to say they’d tell the Roman Emperor that Pilate wouldn’t execute a rival king – because Jesus had claimed to be the ‘King of the Jews’ and Rome considered anyone who claimed to be a king to be an enemy of the Emperor – Pilate ‘ad no choice. It was more than ‘is job was worth to say no! So ‘e ‘anded Jesus over to us – to crucify ‘im.’ (P)

‘But all the time I was wondering, if ‘e really is the Son of God, then why is ‘e going through all this? Why doesn’t ‘e just walk away, call down a legion of angels or do … something? Why’s ‘e letting them treat ‘im like this? An’ after a while I think, well, maybe ‘e isn’t the Son of God after all? Coz surely God wouldn’t let all this ‘appen to ‘is own Son – would ‘e?’

‘Anyway, first thing we did, so that the whole crowd could see, was whip ‘im. An’ as it was Pilate’s order, we whipped ‘im good n proper. (P) Still nothing! Still no calling down of angels to help, not even after we turned ‘is back to – jelly!’

‘So then we took ‘im away to our barracks – we liked to have a little, er, fun with the condemned, remind them who’s boss so to speak. Now, one of my soldiers ‘ad an old purple cloak, the kind of thing only really important people use, an’ ‘e came up with a wicked idea. Jesus was supposed to be some kind of King or something right? So we wrapped ‘im up in the purple cloak while a couple of me men rushed outside to get some branches from a thorn bush and twist them together to make a kinda crown, which we ramed it on ‘is ‘ead and laughed as the blood flowed down ‘is face.’

‘Then, someone else gave ‘im a stick to hold, so that ‘e looked kind of like a king with ‘is royal robe, crown and sceptre! Then the lads laid into ‘im and with howls of laughter we knelt before the ‘king of the Jews’, and then grabbed the stick and whacked ‘im round the ‘ed with it. It was a laugh! And boy, did we give ‘im a good beating – we beat ‘im until we were bored! (P) And still, in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘surely ‘e can’t be the Son of God?’ Coz as we beat ‘im up, if ‘e was the Son of God, ‘e could’ve called down angels, or struck us dead or something! And yet, ‘e just took it, like I’d never seen before. Anyway, as I said, after a while we got bored of it all and took ‘im off to be crucified.’

‘‘E was real weak by now. I guess ‘e’d already lost a lot of blood, and as we put the cross on ‘im to carry up the ‘ill to be crucified, ‘e stumbled and fell over, it was all too much. (P) Funny really, I think maybe this would ‘ave been the time to call it a day. ‘Ed proved ‘is point! ‘E could take it, ‘e was special, we could see that. So why didn’t ‘e end it now? – One of me lads got a bloke who’d just arrived in town and made ‘im carry the cross for Jesus – we certainly weren’t going to carry it for ‘im! Cross’s are for scum – the only time we touch ‘em is when we nail villains to ‘em. And so Jesus carried on up the ‘ill, along with another couple of scum bags we were going to crucify with ‘im.’

‘When we got to the top of the ‘ill, we made the bloke carrying the cross put it on the ground.  And then, we laid Jesus on it and rammed the nails through ‘is hands and ‘is feet so that ‘e wasn’t going anywhere. Then we stood the cross up and let it drop into it’s hole in the ground. We did the same to the other two criminals. – And then we waited! It takes a long time to die when you’re crucified. Some of the others started to divide up Jesus’ clothes, but when they got to the undergarment, it’s an all in one job and they didn’t want to rip it up, it was too nice for that, so they cast lots to see who’d get it. Well at least one of ‘em was ‘appy.’

‘All of this ‘appened early in the morning and the people and the religious leaders came to gloat at the death of their enemy. They kept shouting at Jesus again ‘n again, telling ‘im to come down from the cross to prove ‘e was the Son of God. Yet ‘e stayed there! Surely if ‘e was the Son of God ‘e’d ‘ave come down? Surely?’

‘Then one of the criminals started ‘aving a go at Jesus as well. Why couldn’t they just leave ‘im alone? But before I could say anything the other criminal told the first one to shut it! ‘E said something like, ‘we deserve to die coz we’ve done bad things, but Jesus, ‘e’s not done anything wrong, ‘e’s innocent’. And then ‘e looked across at Jesus and said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.’ It sent chills down my spine. And Jesus said to ‘im, ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise.’

‘A funny thing ‘appened then. Not funny ha ha, but funny strange. At about noon, just as we were beginning to think about our lunch, it went dark – as if the sun ‘ad just stopped shining! We carried on anyway, got some torches and kept watch. But there was a lot less noise, less people passing through or saying anything. I began to feel really uncomfortable. Coz somehow I knew what Jesus had told that criminal, about paradise and all that, was true!’

‘It stayed dark till about 3 in the afternoon and then, all of a sudden, Jesus shouts out in a really loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why ‘ave you forsaken me?’ It chokes me up just to remember the pain in ‘is voice, it was enough to break your ‘eart. And then, ‘e shouted again, ‘It is finished!’ And ‘e died – just like that!’

‘But as ‘e died, there was an earthquake and the rocks split open. And I found out later that a really important curtain in the Jewish temple, the curtain that’s supposed to keep the people separated from God, was torn in two from top to bottom.’

‘’N as I saw all this, at last I knew it really was true, so I said it, coz I didn’t care who heard. ‘Truly – this was the Son of God.’                  

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