The Roman Centurion (Camp Meeting, 9/1/19)

Posted by on Sep 12, 2019 in Godprints, Pitman Camp Meeting, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

It was the final Camp Meeting service of the summer, and Rev. Sherry Zappola and her husband Al took us to a place further back than the summer.  Through Sherry’s music and Al’s drama, we encountered the day when Jesus was crucified.  The centurion told his personal story- he was there.  But what’s YOUR personal story?  Weren’t YOU there too?



Rev Sherry Zappola only sang one sing, but it set the scene for what was about to follow.  The song told the story of the 2nd Centurion.  We’re familiar with the first centurion- the one who is quoted as saying “surely this was the Son of God.”  But what about the “second centurion”? What about the one who actually drove the nails into Jesus’ hands?

Who hammered the nails?  Who was holding the hammer? 

“I turned…. and I saw the hammer in MY hand!”



Al then appeared, wearing a Roman Centurion’s outfit.  This centurion was the one who happened to pull this detail.  He was the one assigned to oversee the crucifixions on this day.  This centurion stood before us and told his personal story of what happened that day.



I was put on duty this night.  They ordered me to go to the olive grove and arrest this man, Jesus.  But I wondered why a whole contingent of Roman soldiers was needed- this Jesus seemed like a mild manner guy. 

And the whole arrest was a set up.  Pilate knew it, but he didn’t want to rock the boat and draw any attention from Rome that would threaten his hold on power.  But Jesus was innocent, so he tried to find a way out.  When he hears that Jesus is from Galilee, he says “ah ha- I’ll send him to Herod.”  But Herod sends Him back.  Then Pilate thinks he can get out of this mess with a compromise.  Maybe just “disciplining” Jesus would satisfy the crowd.  So Pilate tells me to have him scourged.



There are no set number of lashes… just as long as the person doesn’t die.  We whip wherever and as many times as we like.  We stop when I think he couldn’t take no more.  On this night, I spit at this “king” and pushed a crown of thorns on Him.  When it looked like he was almost dead, my men grabbed him and took him back to Pilate.  It took two of my men to hold him up.


Crucify Him!

Even after the scourging, Pilate still didn’t think this man was guilty of anything.  So he was shocked when the crowd yelled “crucify him!”  He didn’t have a choice.  So he told me to fetch two thieves from the stockade.  We drew three crossbeams from the supply room.  I led the way on horseback, but Jesus kept falling down.  This whole thing was taking way too long.



Jesus offers no resistance, but he groans  as I hammer the 8″ spikes into his body.  I’m efficient at this; I’ve executed many men.  I’ve been spit at and cursed at… but I’ve never been forgiven!

I didn’t know he was God’s Son- I was just following orders!



Jesus dies.  A lot quicker than most men.  But it’s getting late and a storm was brewing.  So a couple of his friends take the body down and put it in a nearby tomb.  There was a lot of talk about this man raising from the dead or something, so they told me to make sure nobody goes in and steals the body.  So I seal the tomb, have a big stone rolled up to the entrance, and then I post two of my men to guard the tomb.



I was just doing my job.  I’ve done this many times before.  But something was different this time.  They told us to guard the tomb for three days and three nights, so my men and I were there most of the time.  But on Sunday there was this earthquake.  I’ve been through a lot in my career- I’m a tough Roman Centurion afterall!  But this one really got to me.  I hate to admit it, but I was scared! 

In the middle of all of this, some kind of weird light starts shining from the sky.  We see something descend from the sky and then roll the stone away.  And then- this dead man- Jesus- walks out of the tomb!

That was more than we could take!  We dropped our weapons and ran away.  People said we fell asleep or that the disciples came and stole the body.  But that’s not what happened.  This man was actually alive!

After we got out of there I began to dream.  I saw a soldier whipping Jesus, and I ran in to take the whip away.  Then I saw the soldier’s face… it was Mine!  I was the one who whipped Jesus.  I was holding the hammer- I was the one who drove the spikes into his hands.

I was there!


But… weren’t you there too?  Didn’t all of this happen because YOU rejected God too?  I follow orders.  I recognize my superiors.  I know when I’m part of a larger effort.  And yet, don’t we all want to be in charge?  Don’t we all want to run away when God calls?

I was there- weren’t you there too?

This man was the son of God.  He was the Messiah!  What are YOU going to do with Christ???




The Last Service

Tonight’s service was the final Camp Meeting service of the 2019 summer.  As the auditorium grew dark, we gathered to talk and reminisce about what we had just heard, and to celebrate what we had experienced throughout the summer…


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