I stumbled back to my quarters and tried to get some sleep and prepare for the morning as ordered. It is difficult to relax when one has stumbled into a garrison preparing for conflict; especially when one had assumed all was well. Apparently, all was NOT well: in fact, I felt as if I had received a blow to the head. Sitting down on my pallet, my mind swirled with … well, with everything that it had ever considered important.
Indeed I knew full well that Iesu was someone who polarized the entire region, and that the Temple party was none too pleased with both what He was doing and what He was saying. There were rumors of foul play, but I was certain that He would keep himself safe from enemies. How could He have let them get hold of Him? Of course the world is full of spies and traitors- the most useful man to the Empire was a traitor; the Army especially depended on these types to advance our interests and make our jobs easier. But how could He not discern who was a foe- especially after all the wonders He performed? Ferreting out someone who has your demise at heart should not be so hard for one such as Him. Well now- being a Roman soldier and soon to be a citizen, perhaps there is still much more to learn. This was a shock, for I had thought that in the last year and a half, I had learned everything I needed to know. Wrong again.
Over a decade of service in Judea, I had come to love the country and the people, (believe it or not) despite what my comrades say about the whole situation here. More importantly, I have come to be a believer in their God; or should I say The God, Yahweh. Most of my free time in Jerusalem has been spent in the court of the Gentiles at the Temple; that in fact was where I first heard of the Rabbi from Nazareth: it was this time spent at prayer and instruction that led me to the decision to become a Jew immediately after my mustering out upon retirement, when I could then more fully enter in to a deeper life with God.
I had even listened to Iesu speak a time or two when I was on leave. His words filled me with hope, and the inherent good sense of what was said backed up the hope that they promised. Of course there were plenty of Rabbis around; the country was full of them-messianic fever had reached a full throated roar in many regions of Judea. It was not just His words; I saw with my own eyes a beggar who could not walk- one who was always in the vicinity of the Court of the Gentiles. One day, there he was… standing just as sound and well as any man. He told me that Iesu had healed him just by touch and saying, “Your sins are forgiven”. If that is not enough, there is more to tell. We were coming back to garrison one day about six months previous, and there was a funeral procession going on; a dead young man was on the bier, and Iesu happened by. He walked up to the bier and grabbed the dead man’s hand—right away the corpse came back to life: I saw it. There have been many times when I was scared; a soldier’s life is full of death, dying and horrific wounds- but never did the thrill of fear and awe run through me as it did that day. Even after that, when a gentile barbarian such as myself came to believe that Iesu was who He portrayed Himself to be, all the Temple party could do was go on about how He had defiled Himself by touching a dead body!
Now, I feared the worst for Him, and for all of us who believed in Him.