“So, let me get this straight. Petronius glared at the two Roman soldiers
sitting across from him. There was a bright light, and you were knocked to
the ground, and when you got up, the seal was broken, the two-ton stone was
rolled away, and the body was gone?
There was also a roaring sound, Justin added. He glanced over at Lucius,
who was staring at the table in silence, still in shock.
A roaring sound, their commanding officer repeated. Like a lion?
No, like scraping Justin stopped to think. But yes, also like a lion.
Petronius threw his reed pen down in frustration. A scraping sound that
roared like a lion. Do you know how crazy that sounds? Honestly, if it
weren’t for the other soldiers on guard last night with similar nonsensical
stories, you two would be on your way to the execution block for sleeping
on the job, because this all sounds like a crazy dream!
Justin saw Lucius cringe. I know how it sounds, said Justin. That’s also
how it felt. Crazy. Impossible.
Petronius dismissed them so he could converse with the other officers.
Don’t go far, he warned them. You’re being watched until we get this
Justin led Lucius to the courtyard. I’ll get us something to eat, he said
as he sat his friend beneath an olive tree. Lucius nodded and slumped
against the tree trunk.
Justin walked to a nearby booth selling pomegranates. As he handed his
coins over, he wondered if this would be his last meal. What had the dead
manwhose tomb they had been guardingeaten for his last meal? Justin
shuddered as he thought about the crucifixion he had witnessed just a few
days before. He’d seen many executions, but this one was different. He’d
gotten the distinct sense that this man in no way deserved the abuses
heaped upon him as his death sentence wascarried out. Now, Justin wondered
if he, too, might be executed.
As he walked back toward the courtyard, a shadow fell across his path.
Move, please, Justin said, his voice lacking the hard Roman edge it
normally had. Let me pass.
The man took a step closer. Justin looked up, and the pomegranates he was
holding fell to the ground. It’s you, he whispered. The eyes were the
same as when they beat him and nailed him to that cross, but he didn’t look
weak and helpless anymore. He looked healthy and whole.
The man gave him a kind smile. Go get your friend, he said, nodding
toward the courtyard. Then follow me. Courtney Lasater
After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to many people before He
ascended into heaven. Today’s fictional story imagines Jesus appearing to
some of the Roman soldiers who were present at His tomb and His
crucifixion. While we don’t know if something like this happened or not, we
do know that Jesus called many gentile (or non-Jewish) people, including
Romans, to follow Him, both before His death and after His ascension. What
does this reveal about God’s compassion and mercy? (If you want to dig
deeper, check out Matthew 8:5-13; 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 7:1-10; Acts
10:1-48; 16:23-34; 27:1-44.)
Jesus is God in human flesh, and He came to die a terrible death on the
cross for people who were His enemies. The reality is, without Jesus, we
are all God’s enemies. But because Jesus died and rose again for us, we can
be forgiven and reconciled to God by putting our trust in Jesus (Romans
5:10). Have you ever felt like you were somehow disqualified from following
Jesus? How might today’s Bible passages speak into this?
Jesus seeks out the lost, He meets us with immeasurable kindness, and He
beckons us to follow Him. Have you made the decision to follow Jesus? What
questions do you have? You can bring every question and every doubt to
Jesus in prayer. He won’t condemn you or dismiss you. Instead, He will
listen and draw you close. In addition to talking to God, who are trusted
Christians you could talk to? (You can also find out more on our “Know
Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we
too may walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (CSB)