SCENE 1 - (Introduction)
My name is Andronicus Capito. My name, Andronicus, means “The Conqueror”. My father, Gaius (Guy-us), served in the Roman Senate under the great emperors, Augustus and Tiberius. My father was a wealthy man and provided well for our family. He was a good man and taught me well. I was educated in the best schools in Rome, and was on my way to great success in Roman society. At the age of 20, I became an officer in the Italian Band, a group of elite soldiers from the heart of the Roman Empire. I worked hard, learned quickly, and moved fast through the ranks. By the time I was 25, I was commander over 100 soldiers. I was now a Centurion. I fought alongside the great Generals of my time, and had many victories for Rome. I was well on my way to having my name etched in the archives beside the names of the men who had made the Empire what it was.
Then came an assignment that would change my life and my destiny. The Emperor and the Senate were concerned about rumors of rebellions. They had heard of these religious zealots that were possible an uncalculated threat and wanted to find out if this was truly a valid threat or just rumors. There was a need for educated, well-respected soldiers to go to the far reaches of Rome to study and report on the religious happenings in the territories. My father, wanting to remove me from the confrontations on the war front, had me dispatched to a tiny country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The country of Palestine! For a while, I despised my Father for this. I was a warrior, and I belonged on the battlefield with my men. Besides, there was no advancing my career by taking this assignment. In fact, this was more like a step backward.
But as much as I wanted to fight this decision, there was no changing my father’s mind. The orders were given, and I was soon headed for Palestine, and for Jerusalem. And now I, Andronicus, conqueror, centurion, was to be nothing more than a scribe.
SCENE 2 - (Baptism)
As I arrived in Jerusalem, I first went to see Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of all Judea. I showed him my orders from Tiberius Caesar dispatching me to investigate and report on these rumors of religious uprisings. I asked Pilate to give me the names of any dangerous religious leaders in Judea and he quickly said, “The man you want to find is called John the Baptist!” Pilot told me that this John was not the average religious leader. He had the reputation of being a crazy man who lived in the wilderness, wore animal skins and ate locusts and honey. People say he keeps on preaching that “The kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Pilate said the religious leaders were afraid to do anything to him because his followers believe that he is a great prophet sent from God who will introduce their messiah.
Ah, yes! This John the Baptist-he sounded like the best place to start! How I wish the emperor would have given me just a few of my soldiers. We could put down all these zealots in one campaign! Instead, all he gave me was just this scroll and a pen.
I began my search and in just a few days, I found this one they call John the Baptist. He was near the Jordan River preaching on a hillside to a couple hundred people. He spoke with the boldness of a Roman general but with the clarity of a Greek philosopher. He kept saying that people should repent of their sins. I watched as he baptized many of them in the Jordan River. But then it happened. A man came walking over the hillside and continued straight down toward the river. I’ll never forget what John said that day when he saw Him…” Behold, the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” The Stranger waded into the water for John to baptize him, but John resisted Him saying that this Stranger should be baptizing John! The man must have insisted because John proceeded to baptize Him. I asked the people near me, “Who is this man?” They said, “we’re not sure but we think He is from Galilee.”
As John was raising Him back up out of the water, almost on cue the clouds quickly parted and the sunlight shone brilliantly. Then we all heard a deafening voice from the sky which said, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED!” At the same moment, I saw a white image float down like a dove and rest upon this Stranger. I know…you don’t believe me! But I did not imagine it! I was there and I saw it happen. All the crowd was stunned, then they converged on the riverbank and before I knew it, He was gone! Who was this man? Was that the voice of God that I heard? I had to find this Stranger from Galilee.
SCENE 3 - (The Shepherd’s Story)
I stood there for a few moments not even sure if what I had just seen was real. I began asking others around me about this Stranger of Galilee. I heard someone say the name, Jesus. Just the mention of His name seemed to bring a peace to my soul. I rehearsed it to myself several times….Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I had to know more about this man. As I turned to leave, my attention was drawn to one of the men standing near me. He was a dirty, dingy looking man, but he had the most joyous look on his face that I had ever seen. Something drew me to him. I asked him, “Why do you look so happy?” He looked off into the distance and a tear ran down his face. I thought I had upset him, so I began to walk away, but he grabbed my arm, and said, “Let me tell you my story about Jesus.” He knew of Jesus? I was immediately drawn into what he had to say. He looked me right in the eyes and told me this very story:
It was about 30 years ago on a cold winter’s night. I was a small boy at the time, working in the fields just outside of Bethlehem tending my father’s sheep with some of his hired servants. The cold winter air brushed on my skin as the stars were twinkling above. All of a sudden there was a bright light shining from the sky above. I quickly put up my arm in front of my face to keep the light from blinding my eyes. As I peered around my arm, I saw what seemed to be an angel. His face was glowing and he was wrapped in a beautiful white linen. Naturally, I was frightened at this strange figure. Even the other shepherds fell back in fear. Everything was calm and still. And then he spoke. The air seemed to halt at the mighty sound of the angel’s voice as he proclaimed, “Fear not! For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy! For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” The next sight was something truly amazing. A great host of angels appeared in the sky. Their faces were filled with joy as they announced their message in song. They sang with the most beautiful voices that any man has ever heard. Their song was “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” They sang it over and over. The beauty of it all was indescribable. After they had withdrawn back into the night, I turned to another shepherd, and said to him, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”
We hurried away and eventually found Mary, Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger. They told us his name was Jesus. His eyes sparkled in the night sky, His skin was so smooth and soft. I knew at that moment, this is the Savior, the Messiah, who would soon change the world. After some time, the other shepherds ran off, shouting with joy and telling the whole city what was happening. There were men there in that stable that looked to be Kings. They had brought gifts of gold and precious perfumes, but I had nothing. In disappointment, I looked down at my hands. I realized that I had brought my harp with me, and an idea popped into my head. Quickly I brought it up and started to play a soft melody. I think it brought a smile to the newborn baby’s face. Once I finished playing, I sat there looking into Jesus’ beautiful face. It was at that moment that I truly realized that God had come to man. Holiness had come to us on that night!
SCENE 4 - (Jairus’ Daughter)
We had sailed to Galilee, but word of Jesus’ arrival had already spread and the people were waiting at the shore line before we even got there. As we exited the boat, Peter began yelling “make way for the Lord.” I felt much the same way. I thought to myself “Can’t you give this man a break. All you ever want is for Jesus to DO something for you.” I told Him that I had no problem clearing a path through the people. After all, I AM a Roman soldier, NOT some simple fisherman.
As we began to make our way from the shore line, a man came running toward Jesus weeping. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and began begging Jesus to come to his house. He told Jesus that his daughter was very sick and that he was scared she was going to die. I felt terrible for this man, but I wondered what Jesus could do for his little girl. I had seen Jesus do miraculous things for others, but I always had my doubts about what He could or would do every time someone else made an outrageous request. We started following Jairus to his house, although it was very difficult due to the immense crowd.
Soon after we began walking toward Jairus’ house, one of his servants came running and weeping. He told him that it was too late; that his daughter was dead. You could see the anguish on Jairus’ face. As I felt a lump come up in my throat, Jesus said to Jairus “Don’t be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” I wanted to believe what He said was true, but how COULD it be true. She was gone! NOTHING could change that.
We could hear the people weeping before we could see them. I had been around death on the battlefield, but I had never experienced the anguish that took place around the death of a child. I was shaken at my very core when I considered how fragile life must be if a 12-year-old girl could be so suddenly taken from her parents. Jesus looked back at me and said, “Weep not; she is not dead, she’s sleeping.” The weeping quickly changed to laughter and scorn. One man angrily said to Jesus “How dare you give this family false hope.” Another man said “What? Are you a doctor now?” I, too, had my doubts.
I waited outside along with everyone else. Jesus walked around to the side of her bed, bowed his head, and talked to His Father in Heaven. He then took her by the hand and said to her “Maiden, arise.” She immediately opened her eyes and began breathing. She sat straight up and her parents embraced her and kissed her.
I had experienced the elation of a victorious battle in war, but every emotion I had experienced on the battlefield PALED in comparison to the sheer joy and excitement when we saw Jairus’ daughter. Jesus came out of the door behind her and began walking toward Peter’s house as though nothing had happened. He said to me as He walked by “It is NEVER hopeless as long as you trust who I am and obey what I say.”
SCENE 5 - (The Prayer Scene)
One day I went to the place near the Sea of Galilee where Jesus was teaching. As I approached, He was standing with His arms stretched open. People had already gathered to hear Jesus’ wise and gentle words. The people were sitting on the ground all around Him. Each one of their eyes were glued onto His glorious face. His gestures were graceful and calming, complimenting His easy to understand speech. As I peered through the crowd, everyone was quiet and all I could hear was His sturdy voice teaching about a remarkable subject. Prayer.
Listening to Jesus seemed to be a sweet melody, like a child playing on a harp. It was pleasant and comfortable. As I searched among the people I spotted a group of men, His disciples. They were the ones who were leaning in and studying every word Jesus spoke. Nothing else, even in its purest form, is like the presence of Jesus. His presence is almost indescribable. The air is thinner and your body trembles. Your knees almost quiver at the sight of Him, and every time He preaches, a spirit of fire fills the depths of your soul. His features make Him powerful, yet so innocent.
He said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Many of those in the crowd looked somewhat shocked at these words. Their own religious leaders did not pray like this. They prayed openly in the streets. I myself had seen them in the streets praying loudly and condemning others before God.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking,” He said peeking his eyes at every person. He laughed at the end of His sentence, which made everyone, including the children, smile.
“Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye.” His gleaming eyes shut, His head slowly bowed, and He prayed….
SCENE 6 - (The Woman with the Issue of Blood)
It was a hot, muggy day in Capernaum. Each of us were in a hurry to get to the house to get out of the heat of the sun…that is everyone EXCEPT Jesus. He was never in a hurry to get anywhere. The disciples seemed to be constantly annoyed at the pace of Jesus’ movements.
As usual, news of Jesus' arrival moved faster than we ever could. The people would show up by the hundreds. As soon as I saw the people I KNEW that it was going to be a LONG afternoon. The look on Peter’s face was almost humorous. You could see how frustrated he was at the sight of all…those…people. This was his hometown. He knew almost every single person waiting on the shore.
We climbed out of the boat and had only gone a few steps when Jesus cried out, “Who touched me?” Peter’s aggravation with the crowd was now turned toward the one he called Master. He looked at Jesus and said, “With all of this crowd pressing against every one of us, you ask ‘Who touched me?’” All of the disciples were in shock at the way Peter spoke to Jesus. John grabbed him by the arm and shouted “Peter, that’s enough!” Jesus then said in almost a whisper, as though he were talking to himself “I felt healing power leave my body.”
He turned around and His eyes fell on a lady who was on her face at Jesus’ feet. She was weeping and trying to talk through the tears. The tears were NOT tears of hurt or despair, they were tears of joy- as though she had been longing for healing and had found the one thing she was looking for.
She told Jesus that she had been sick with a disease of the blood for over 12 years. She was close to death, and was desperate. She said that she had been to see every doctor in the region, but no one had been able to help her in any way. She said to Him “I knew if I could just get close enough to touch the hem of your garment it would make a difference. AND it DID. I can feel that I am better. My legs have strength. I can even breathe better. This is the GREATEST day of my life.”
Over and over I witnessed greatness when I was with Jesus. Yes, he did things that can only be described as miraculous, but that was not the greatest characteristic of Jesus. The ONE thing that always amazed me as I followed him and recorded the things he said and did was that no matter the situation, He always took time to be EXACTLY what the people around him needed.
SCENE 7 - (Blind Bartimaeus)
After having been to Jerusalem to attend to personal business, I heard that Jesus was in the region of Judea. I outfitted my horse and began descending the mountains of Jerusalem. I arrived in the town of Jericho hoping to get food and drink, but as I entered the city, there was a crowd of people coming my way. There was no way I was going anywhere for a while. I dismounted and tied my horse and made my way toward the crowd. As I approached the mass of humanity, I began asking what the commotion was about. The response was, “Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!” Now it made sense. This was happening everywhere He went. People came from miles just to get a glimpse of Him. I knew it would be too difficult to get to Him right then, so I decided to wait until He was outside of town to speak to Him. As I positioned myself in the crowd, I noticed a blind man in front of me sitting in the midst of everyone. The only attention anyone was paying this poor soul was to step on him and kick him so that he would get out of the way. This man stunk! He looked like he hadn’t eaten in days, and he was barely clothed. I am not a tender man. I’ve seen too much brutality on the battlefield for much of anything to affect me, but as I stood there and witnessed the treatment of this helpless individual, all I could feel was pity. It had been years since I had felt pity for anything or anyone. But having been around Jesus, even for a short while, some things inside me had changed.
Jesus was getting closer, and the excitement around me was growing. People were doing anything they could to get a little closer to Him. About the time that Jesus was right in front of us, the blind man yelled out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” It caught me by surprise. I would not have expected to hear this pitiful man say anything, much less yell something. Those standing near him began screaming, “Bartimaeus, be quiet. He doesn’t have time for you!” It didn’t work. He yelled even louder, over and over, “Thou son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus stopped! The crowd went silent. By this time, I was standing right behind the man and Jesus looked right at me, and with a smile, he said to me, “tell him to come here.” I helped the man up, told him “don’t worry, Jesus wants to see you.” I directed him to Jesus. Bartimaeus went to Him and Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responded, “Lord, I want to receive my sight.” I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me? Ask for something realistic!” As that thought entered my mind, Jesus caught my eye. It was as though he was staring right into my soul. His eves lingered on me for just a few seconds. Then he looked back at Bartimaeus and said, “Go thy way, your faith has made you whole.” In disbelief, I watched as this man who had been blind receive his sight. He couldn’t quit pointing out the different things that he was not able to see.
Bartimaeus’ life was changed. He was joyful, at peace, unburdened. As I watched him, I found myself jealous of him. I wanted what HE had!
SCENE 8 - (Lazarus)
We were relaxing under an Acacia tree beside the Jordan River when a young man came running towards us. He had obviously been running for quite some distance. He told us that Jesus’ friend Lazarus was very sick, and that his sisters, Mary and Martha, requested that Jesus should come quickly because they were scared that he was going to die. Knowing that Jesus cared deeply about Lazarus, I began to gather my things for the trip to Bethany. Jesus didn’t move, but said to me “His sickness is not a sickness unto death, but that the Son of God will be glorified.” I looked at the disciples. They looked back and shrugged their shoulders, as confused as I was.
After awkwardly waiting for two days, Jesus said “Let us go to Judea.” We were going to Bethany to visit Lazarus. Bethany was only a mile or two from Jerusalem…and the men that wanted Jesus dead. For this reason, the disciples, concerned about Jesus, questioned the trip. After much conversation and confusion, Jesus said “Lazarus is dead.” We were all taken back by this. As I thought to myself “How does he know that?” he continued “I am glad that I was not there so that you may believe.” I felt as though he were directing his statement toward me in particular.
The trip up the mountains to Bethany took a couple of days, and as we traveled, I wondered over and over “What is it that he wants us to believe?”. When we entered the town, Martha came running to see Jesus. She was weeping and kept saying “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” After she gained her composure, she said “But I know that whatever you ask of God, he will give it to you.” Jesus responded to her “Thy brother shall rise again.” It seemed to me as though Jesus was referring to something that he, personally, was going to do.
We came to the place where Lazarus was buried, and Jesus began to weep. In the nearly three years that I had been with Jesus, I had never seen him like this. As I was trying to reason in my mind why he was weeping, seeing he already knew Lazarus was dead, Jesus commanded “Take away the stone!” Everyone gasped. He had been dead for four days. He was surely already rotting and stinking. Eventually, they rolled the stone back. Then He shouted “Lazarus, come forth.” I thought he was joking at first. I was looking around to see if anyone else was as stunned as I was at the strangeness of it all, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that caught my attention. I quickly turned my head to see a person in grave clothes coming out of the grave. I stood there, still questioning what I was seeing. Jesus told them to loose him from the grave clothes, which they did…and unbelievably there stood Lazarus. He wasn’t just alive; he was no longer sick! Jesus was no longer weeping. He was smiling…and looking at me…as though what he had done was as much for me as it was for Lazarus.
SCENE 9 - (Adulterous Woman)
Not many days later, we had made our way to Jerusalem, the epicenter for religious activity in this land. Jesus had found His way to their Temple and was teaching the people. As He was teaching, a group of the religious elite, the Pharisees, interrupted the teaching, carrying with them a woman that had obviously been beaten. They place themselves between Jesus and the crowd, threw the woman on the ground, and began yelling at Jesus. They were almost in a frenzy. At first, I thought they were going to kill the woman. But it wasn’t anger. It was almost excitement. When they finally calmed down, they began to explain why they were there.
They started telling the story of this woman. They told of how they had found her with a man that was not her husband. She was an adulteress. I wondered immediately where the man was and how this group of men knew of this act, but my attention was quickly turned back to the situation at hand when these religious men said that the law of Moses required that she be put to death by stoning. That was a brutal way to die! I had seen men stoned to death on the battlefield by soldiers, but these men were not soldiers. Yet their joy was almost uncontainable! After they said that the law of Moses required that she be stoned, they asked Jesus, “What do YOU think we should do with her?” Everything went quiet. All eyes were on Jesus. Everyone know that Jesus would never want this woman to be put to death, but how could it possibly be avoided? The Pharisees stood there with these pious looks on their faces as if to say, “We’ve got you now!” It was at this point that I realized there WERE there to kill someone. But it wasn’t this woman. They were after Jesus!
They could smell the blood in the water, and they were ready to pounce. The people were scared, but in my own heart, I was angry. These men did not intimidate me, and I was ready to defend Jesus with my sword. I knew that Jesus was a strong, intelligent man. That was obvious to everyone who spent any time around Him. I expected Him to begin to explain to them why she shouldn’t be put to death, or stand up to them in defense of this woman and fight for her life. But He didn’t do either one of those things. In fact, He acted as if they weren’t even there. He knelt down and began writing in the dirt. From where I was, I couldn’t read what He was writing, but it must have been arresting for them, because as He wrote, the faces of the accusers began to change. One by one, their countenances went from anticipation, to embarrassment, to fear. Jesus finally stood back up and broke the silence by saying, “Whichever one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” They stood there in disbelief. As they were standing there Jesus knelt down again, and continued writing in the dirt. I wanted so badly to see what He was writing. I began to make my way through the crowd, but as I began to make my way, something strange happened that stopped me in my tracks. These religious men who were viewed as the most intelligent, the most righteous men in the land, began to leave. It was as though they themselves had been caught in the act of some great sin!
Once they were gone, Jesus stood up and asked the woman where her accusers were, and if any man had condemned her. She answered him, “No man, Lord.” Then Jesus did something I will never forget. He forgave her. He said to her, “I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more.” Her countenance changed. It was like someone had taken a heavy burden off her shoulders. Where just a few moments earlier, she had a look of desperation and confusion on her face, now she had a look of contentment and of peace.
For a short moment, I found myself somewhat envious of what she had been given. She stood there for wat seemed like an hour, tears of appreciation and joy rolling down her cheeks. She told Jesus, “Thank you” and backed away. As she passed by me, I hear her telling everyone that would listen, “He has forgiven me!”
SCENE 10 - (The Paralyzed Man)
We were in a house in Capernaum. I think everyone in the town was there. The religious leaders of Capernaum were there as Jesus was teaching…It was such an awesome thing to hear Him teach. Everyone, even those who did not like Him, sat listening. People hung on every word like a child waiting for the light of a fire fly at dusk. It was exceedingly hot that day. In the middle of Jesus’ teaching, there was a commotion just outside the door. I could hear people saying “Go away. It’s too crowded.” “He doesn’t have time for him. He is teaching the Scriptures.” It settled down in just a few moments. After several minutes, we heard another noise. But it wasn’t coming from the door. Something was moving on the roof. The next thing we knew, people were tearing the roof tiles off. I thought to myself “These people are so impatient. They are tearing up this family’s house just to see Jesus.” It angered me. I could not believe the selfishness of these men… They tore a very large hole in the roof. I remember thinking to myself “That hole is big enough that a full grown man could fit…” and right in the middle of my thought, these men began letting another man down on a make-shift stretcher. I looked at Jesus to see what He would do. I thought for sure He would rebuke these men. But He quit speaking and just watched until the man was lying on the ground right in front of Him. I did not know who the man was, but there were many in the crowd that did. I asked the man next to me what was wrong with him, and he told me that he had been paralyzed for many years. What did these guys expect Jesus to do?? I was very angry at the whole situation now. I looked back at Jesus, and He was smiling at me as though He knew exactly what I was thinking (which He often did). He looked at this wretched individual and said “Son, your sins are forgiven.” …. (Laughing) I thought the Pharisees were going to lose their minds. They never said anything, but they didn’t have to. To them, this was blasphemy. Only God could forgive sins. Jesus looked at them and said “What do you think is harder? To say your sins are forgiven? or to say Get up and walk?” As the religious leaders were about to respond to His question, Jesus looked down at the man and said “Arise, take up thy bed, and go home.” Incredibly, he stood up, picked up his bed, thanked Jesus and the men that had brought him, and he left. Everyone just stood there looking at Jesus, completely silent and absolutely amazed at what we had witnessed. It started as almost a whisper but then got louder and louder “Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah! God is Good!” I would not have believed it had I not seen it for myself. A paralyzed man was walking home. No matter where He went, Jesus changed people.
SCENE 11 - (The Demoniac)
I was in the boat with the disciples the night that the storm that Peter called “the worst storm I’ve ever seen” hit the Sea of Galilee. I have never seen a body of water behave that violently. We were all scared. In fact, I have never been so scared in my life. I thought I was going to die. At some point, Jesus, who had been asleep of all things, stood up and rebuked the storm. He simply said “Peace! Be still!” The storm disappeared immediately. The water became as glass, and there was NOT a breath of wind. I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was as though he had command over nature itself. He then asked the disciples a question that has stuck with me for my whole life. He asked them “Where is your faith?” I sat there pondering that question for what seemed like hours.
At daybreak, we were approaching the shore line of the area of the Gadarenes. I was still thinking about His question when I heard a terrible noise. It sounded like the storms of war. Instinctively, I drew my sword, preparing for a battle and made sure that I was the first one out of the boat. As I got out of the boat, I noticed that the noise was getting closer. I thought to myself, “Andronicus, if you’re going to die, it might as well be defending a man that can calm storms.” I noticed a single man running towards us, and unbelievably, all of that noise was coming from this one man. He was nearly naked. He had chains wrapped about him as though he had been restrained but had broken free. He was scarred all over his body. As he continued shouting, it sounded as though a thousand people were screaming and shouting. And…it was all coming from one man.
There was obviously something wrong with this man. I had witnessed many “crazy” people on the battlefield, but I had never seen anything like…him. As he approached us, the screaming went away, and it was as though all those voices came together in one voice as he said “Jesus, what do I have to do with thee?” and he screamed “Torment me not!” Before I realized it, he was laying at the feet of Jesus, seemingly worshipping Him. It was all so strange. I was trying to make sense of it all when Jesus asked him his name. “Legion, for we are many” was his response. It was all kind of starting to make sense. Jesus said that he was possessed by devils…or…demons. The “devils” then asked Jesus to send them into the pigs up the hill, and somehow Jesus made that happen. The demons went into the pigs, and the pigs ran down the hill into the sea.
Immediately, the man was changed. He asked for clothes to cover himself with. The people around offered garments to him. I even gave him my cloak. He sat at the feet of Jesus in his right mind. He was at peace. The war that had been raging inside of him was now over. He was a new man.
In the days, months, and years following that day, I told that story time and time again. Few believed me, but that day made a tremendous impact on me. As we boarded the ship to sail back to Capernaum, I thought much about what I had witnessed in the last few hours. Jesus had calmed the storm on the Sea and the storm in his soul.
SCENE 12 - (Triumphal Entry)
It was beautiful that Sunday morning in Jerusalem. I woke as the dawn broke through the windows of my little upstairs room. When I washed and went down to eat breakfast, something seemed different this morning. Every person I saw seemed to have a glow of happiness around their face. I sensed a feeling of celebration in the air. People were running around, smiling at each other and saying things like, “I thought this day would never come. “If they sensed I was listening, they would quickly turn away and walk off like they were protecting a secret. I saw others gathering palm branches and stacking them along the side of the road. Children were running around laughing and playing while the adults huddled in groups talking. I watched this go on all morning until I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know what was happening. So, I asked the innkeeper, “What’s the big secret? What’s going on today?” He looked up and said, “Yes, I suppose a Roman centurion would not have heard about Daniel’s prophecy. Centuries ago, God told Daniel that our Messiah would be revealed exactly 483 years after Nehemiah was sent to rebuild these walls. We have been counting down the years, the months and the days for generations. Andronicus, today is the day! We believe our Messiah is coming TODAY!!
I walked away stunned by what he had said. Could this be true? All of Israel would surely revolt under the leadership of a Divine ruler. Even the armies of Rome would be no match for God.
It was now almost the sixth hour and the sun was at its height in the sky when I heard someone shout, “He is coming from the east!” There were no more secrets now. It seemed like the whole city ran toward the eastern gate. By the time I got there, throngs of people had lined the road and were shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!” Some laid their coats and palm branches in the roadway while others cried out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Everyone acted like he was a conqueror or a king.
As the crowds drew near and pressed upon me now, I strained to see their Messiah. The adulation of a nation was all around me and for the first time, no one even cared who I was - it was all about Him.
Fighting the crowd, I could only see broken glimpses of Him but what I could barely make out surprised me. I saw a man - but He was riding on a donkey!! As He was just about to pass me, my feet seemed fastened to the ground. He turned His head just then and looked RIGHT AT ME with those familiar eyes. Yes, I recognize their King - He was Jesus!
SCENE 13 - (Crucifixion)
It had only been a couple of days, but the mood of the city had changed dramatically. There was no more praise of Jesus as Messiah. There was almost a sense of disappointment. I heard one man say, “Jesus is not the Messiah. The Messiah is supposed to be a conqueror of Rome.” The religious rulers were secretly trying to form alliances to have Jesus arrested and put to death. I will never forget the morning that I was awakened to the shouts of the people on the streets of Jerusalem. I thought that they were shouting at a murderer. I leaped from my bed, got dressed, and ran outside to see what the commotion was about.
As I stepped around a corner, I saw…. Jesus. Apparently, during the night Jesus had been arrested by Caiaphas, the High Priest. They had beaten Him all night long, and now he was on His way to see Pilate to be tried by the Roman government. I followed the crowd to Pilate’s hall, and, because of my position and my relationship with Pilate, I was allowed into the hall.
Pilate questioned Jesus over and over, but Jesus offered no defense for himself. Finally, Pilate went back to the people and declared unto them, “I find no fault in Him.” That did not sit well with the people. It only made them more angry. Pilate asked if they wanted him to release Jesus or Barabbas, and the people said, “Barabbas”..a convicted thief, a liar, an insurrectionist and a murderer!
Pilate was obviously confused. In order to appease the people, Pilate had Jesus beaten…again. The soldiers formed a mock crown of thorns and put it on his head. When He stood before Pilate one again, Pilate said to the people, “Behold the man!”
AT first I could not understand what the people were screaming, but after just a couple of seconds it became clear what they were saying. They were shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
I couldn’t believe what had happened. It was almost like it was a dream. Jesus, a man I had grown to admire and appreciate, was hanging on a Roman cross. I made my way to the foot of the cross. He looked terrible. In fact, had I not seen Him get whipped myself, I would not have recognized Him.
The crowd was massive. These people who had only a few days earlier been singing the praise of Jesus were now cheering his crucifixion. The crucifixion of an innocent man. Pilate himself admitted that Jesus was innocent. I believed that the Pharisees even knew it, but they didn’t care. They just wanted Jesus gone, and they didn’t have the guts to do it themselves. I wasn’t enough that they had beaten Him beyond recognition. Now, as He was hanging there on the cross, they began harassing Him. Some were saying, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” Others said, “If Thou art the Messiah, come down from the cross.”
I was enraged. I was on the verge of using my sword when Jesus spoke. He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” What? I had heard Him offer forgiveness to those who had been sick. I had seen Him offer forgiveness to the adulteress woman. But this was different. How could He FORGIVE these people? How could He FORGIVE my government that beat Him and nailed Him to the cross? I simply did NOT understand.
At mid-day, something very strange took place. The land became as dark as night, there was no sun, no moon, no stars in the sky. It was as though God Himself had snuffed out the lights. It stayed that way for three hours. At the end of the darkness, Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama, Sabachthani, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
At the time I didn’t understand what it meant, but it was the most desperate statement I had ever heard. It was like Jesus had lost His most treasured possession. As soon as He finished this statement, there was a TERRIBLE earthquake. And then He cried out something that surprised me. He said, “Tetelestai.” I knew this phrase very well. It was a cry of victory. It means, “It is accomplished” or “It is finished!” I had used it many times before on the battlefield. But I did not understand how Jesus could say THAT at a time like this! Where was the victory?
After Jesus declared victory, He died. I stood there still at the foot of the cross, amazed at the things which had happened. I thought to myself, and found myself saying aloud, “Surely, this was the Son of God”. As I walked from that place, I could not get away from His cry of victory….”It is Finished.
SCENE 14 - (The Resurrection)
Incompetence!! The tomb of Jesus is empty! Never have I seen such a pathetic excuse for soldiers in all my days. All they had to do was to guard a dead man’s tomb. Some say that the fishermen overpowered a squad of armed Roman soldiers and stole away the body of Jesus. That is ridiculous!! I know Peter, James, John and all the rest. They wouldn’t stand a chance against three trained soldiers, much less a whole squad. That didn’t happen! Others are whining that the enemies of Jesus stole the body but there is no logic in that and they still would have to get past the guards. A rumor is going around the city that an angel knocked out the soldiers, rolled the stone away, and told his disciples that Jesus was resurrected from the grave and is alive. There is no way that Jesus could have survived. I saw Him die and I’ve seen lots of men die - He was dead. I had to find out what really happened.
When the captain heard that I was coming to talk with him, I’m sure he knew that at best his career, if not his life, was on the line. I made him tell me what happened from start to finish five times and every time the story never changed no matter how much pressure I applied. I could not believe what he was saying. He said that he was finishing his watch with the other guards on duty just before dawn when there was a great earthquake. He saw the angel, or something appear in bright apparel and a glowing face and that was the last thing he saw. He said he must have blacked out. When he awoke, he saw the stone at the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. He looked inside and saw the grave clothes that had been wrapped tightly around the dead body of Jesus. They were completely undisturbed - as if the body of Jesus had just disappeared.
I said to the captain, “You know the penalty for going to sleep on duty and even more allowing such defiance of the Roman empire to take place. Why are you even still alive?” This is what he said, “We reported back to the high priest who sent us to guard the tomb and told him what I just told you. I knew that my commander would have me killed. The priests gave us a lot of money and told us to never tell the real story and that in exchange he would convince our commander to leave us alone. So that’s what we did.”
A chill went down my spine. I believed that Captain was telling the truth. I remembered hearing Jesus say weeks ago that he would be crucified by wicked men and that he had power to take up His life again. Only God had that kind of power. I walked away in a daze, thinking……could I have been walking with the Son of God for the last three years?
SCENE 15 - (Cornelius’ House)
Months have now passed and I have completed my report for Caesar. The winter is over and the weather is favorable for sailing. So I journeyed from Jerusalem to the port city of Caesarea to book passage on the next ship back to Rome. I have mixed emotions about giving my recommendations to the emperor. As a soldier, I believe the followers of Jesus could, in time, turn the world upside down with their beliefs. Like an epidemic, this way of salvation is sweeping through the cities of Israel and beyond. I suppose it should be stopped. However, as a personal witness, I can find no violence and no lust for power in the hearts of these converts. They work for a kingdom that they believe is in Heaven and show love for one another like I have never seen before. They refuse to recant their devotion to Jesus the Christ and proclaim Him to be the Son of God with their dying breath.
I saw Jesus heal a leper, I watched Him touch a blind man and make him see, I heard Him speak a word and heal a woman that all the doctors of the land could not help, and I stood there when He called Lazarus to come out of his tomb----yet, I am unchanged. I’m still the same empty man that I was. Someone in my position and with my good fortune should feel on top of the world, fulfilled inside, but my heart longs for the joy that I’ve seen in those who have committed their life to Jesus. If I had been born a Jew, instead of a Roman, I would follow Him too.
After finishing my business with the ship’s captain, I asked for directions to the house of my friend, Cornelius, who I heard was now living in Caesarea. In Rome, we were both Centurions of the Italian Band—Caesar’s elite, personal army. We were best friends in those days. Military orders separated us years ago and I looked forward to seeing him again before I sailed back to Rome.
As I walked up to his house, he came running out to meet me. “Andronicus! What a surprise! How long has it been—five, six years?”
“No, Cornelius, it’s been almost seven. Who told you I was coming? It’s just like the old days, huh? I could never sneak up on you!”
“No, I was waiting on someone else but it’s so good to see you. Come on in and let me explain.” We talked for a while and had some refreshments. Then he told me what happened a few days ago. As Cornelius was earnestly praying to God in the afternoon, he opened his eyes to see an angel in bright clothing standing right there in front of him. The angel told him that God had heard his prayer and that he should send for Simon Peter who was living in Joppa. The angel said that when Peter comes, he will tell him what he should do. So he sent his best servants and his bodyguard to find this Simon Peter and ask him to come back with them to Caesarea.
“That’s really who I was watching for,” Cornelius said. I shook my head in amazement and with a smile across my face told him, “You’re looking for the right man. I know Simon Peter! He was the”…….and just as I began to explain, there stood Peter at the door! Cornelius jumped to his feet as we used to do when a General entered the room. I was speechless and a little embarrassed to see Peter so I blended into the crowd in the house and just listened.
Peter told everyone in the house the story of Jesus, how He was anointed by God with power to heal those that were sick, went about doing good and worked great miracles in the sight of all Israel. Peter described how the chief priests finally had Jesus arrested, scourged and crucified on a cross until He died. Tears came to my eyes just remembering that day at Calvary. All along I knew He was innocent, but I did not realize that He was the Son of God until it was too late!
Then Peter surprised us all when he said that he, and hundreds of others, had seen Jesus resurrected from the dead! “Cornelius,” he said, “on the third day, Jesus arose victorious over death, just as He said He would---proving once and for all that Jesus Christ IS the Son of God!”
I always thought that Jesus came to only save Israel, which means there is no hope for Romans like me. But just then, Peter turned, looked right at me and said that Jesus died for everyone and He arose with power to forgive our sins. Something happened inside me when Peter said that. For the first time I understood—no----NO, for the first time I BELIEVED that Jesus died and arose again for ME. He did it for me! I fell to my knees and cried out, “Lord, Jesus, PLEASE forgive me!”