Who knows what they saw? Those soldiers, hammers in hand, flecks of blood on their cheeks, still fresh, still warm. Who knows what made them stop and reassess. Just another revolutionary, on another recycled cross. Nailed and sorted, pinned against a skyline turning suddenly mottled and crackling with lightning. Was it the weather, was it the shuddering earth beneath their feet? Or was it the close proximity? The three men closer to Jesus than anyone else that day. Right below him, smelling his sweat and his blood and his body, hearing every last word he uttered. Forgiving them, praying for them, welcoming the blood-smeared criminal beside him; making the kind of promise that wasn’t worth making, wasn’t worth the pain and struggle and agony of spitting it out… unless he meant it. Unless he really did have a kingdom from some other dimension. A place to call home, a place somehow linked to this bloody, brutal killing.
Perhaps it was the rain, beginning as they waited for the grim end. Tears from heaven, falling on their faces, washing away the grime and the stain of that dark day’s dirt. Perhaps it was a look in the dying man’s eyes, a reflection of history’s hurt and harm. Or perhaps it was the same kind of thing that draws you and I. The stirring of God’s hand, deep within our being, the breath of his Spirit, warming our souls and shaking us up. Turning our heads in a whole new direction. Urging us to take one step at a time along a narrow road.
Perhaps it was all these things. But who knew it would be like this. When most of his friends had run for their lives, a bunch of soldiers, doing their day’s work. Executing men on another killing spree, so that Rome could make its point yet again – don’t mess with the Empire. Who knew three men doing this would be the ones to see suddenly, to have their eyes opened and ears unstopped. To utter with voices not used to this kind of reverence… ‘… this man… the one we’ve just killed… look at him… he was surely… the son of God…’
Matthew chapter 27 verse 54