“More wine Drachus?” asked his fellow soldier.
“Eh? Oh…er.. yea, ok,” replied Drachus, now more than a little distracted.
Here he was with his companions – again getting merry after a day of fun and laughter; the fun of inflicting excruciating physical pain on another person – and laughter at the jokes that accompanied it.
He and his comrades had experienced such days time and time again. Days that presented them with a glorious excuse to let their hair down; to be as crude, vulgar, and mean as one could possibly be – just for the fun of it.
Today was just like any other day.
Except…..it just didn’t feel right this time.
Something was gnawing away at his concience – making him feel more than a little uncomfortable.
He glanced again at the man on the cross, as he continued his pretence of drunken revelry.
The man on the cross – the man everyone called Jesus of Nazareth was now very still.
It had been a while since he said anything. The other two were already dead. But this Jesus was still breathing; silent, still, but breathing.
Something just didn’t feel right. Why would a con man play his part right to the end – with no fear or remorse?!
How could a mad man suddenly become so silent?
And how could a mere human be so loving and so forgiving of His persecutors – right to the end.
Could they have got it wrong?
“What if He really is the Christ?” asked Drachus, no longer able to contain the harrowing questions that raged within him.
“Well…what if he is the Christ?”
“Look at Him Drachus! Look at him!! Do you really think a ‘King of kings’ would end up like that???
Look at the state of him!
Battered and bruised – stinking like a rotting animal – look at Him Drachus!!!
Does He look like a saviour to you???”
“Yea but what if…”
“What if what?”
“What if that’s the whole point?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well…what if the whole point of His life really is to die for us?”
There was a stoney and nervous silence for a few seconds.
“Shut it Drachus!!! You’ve had too much ale. And this time it seems to have completely robbed you of your senses” laughed his colleague.
“Come on chaps, let’s get going. The centurion will be looking for us soon.”
The soldiers got up and staggered to their horses – rather worse for wear.
“You’ll have forgotten about him by morning Drachus. And you’ll be looking forward to butchering and crucifying the next one.”
The soldiers rode off. All except Drachus.
He had mounted his horse but simply couldn’t summon up the will to move.
He sat there – staring at the man on the cross.
“Could this battered man really be the saviour of the world?
If so, then why did He allow Himself to be treated in such a way?
Surely He could have stopped them!!
But maybe that was the whole point – to die for the sins of mankind – a show of unconditional love and humility.
Maybe this world really is just for a few seconds. Maybe we really are just passing through this place on our way to eternity.
These thoughts, and many more, circled around his mind.
And so many questions – but very few answers.
He couldn’t help wishing he had had the opportunity to listen to some of Jesus’ teachings – just to get a better idea of His message.
But then again he had heard enough from other people to be persuaded that the man on the cross was, if nothing else a loving man. He even healed people; and never asked for one drachma in return.
His mind returned to that moment – the moment in which he had started to feel uncomfortable about the day’s proceedings.
Jesus had fallen to the ground, under the heavy strain of carrying that huge wooden plank. His breathing was heavy, His energy completely drained, His eyes battered – bleeding profusely.
Despite the abuse, the anger, and the wickedness that was directed towards Him He remained resolute in peace. And…..was it love that Drachus could see in those beaten eyes???
Despite the angry objection of his comrades, Drachus had got off his horse in order to help Jesus. His heart felt for him. But outwardly he had to pretend to be his usual brutish self.
“Get up man,” he said as he bent over to help him up.
“Get up or I’ll whip you to within an inch of your life,” he shouted, in order to remain convincing in his brutality.
“You may as well. He’s going to die anyway,” laughed his comrade.
The others laughed.
Drachus took the opportunity to whisper some words of encouragement in Jesus’ ear.
“Come on, you’ve got to get up. Or they’ll start beating you again. Only a little distance to go now.”
Jesus looked at him. Despite the fact that his face was heavily swollen, with blood gushing freely from his brows, an unconditional love emanated from his eyes.
He looked at Drachus and smiled.
“Thank you,” said Jesus.
Those two simple words were enough to make his heart stop – albiet for a milisecond.
How could this man still be so gentle and so loving?
Drachus remained motionless on his horse as he continued to stare at Jesus.
By now his comrades were long gone.
Aside from Jesus’ mother and a couple of His disciples, he was the only one still present.
“Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” said Jesus.
Drachus’ horse stirred as those words filled the air.
His heart now racing, as tears meandered down his cheeks.
He looked at Jesus’ mother, kneeling before the cross – inconsolable.
A few minutes passed before Drachus finally decided it was time to go.
As he prepared to leave he took one more glance at the scene around him.
Here was a scene of turmoil – a scene of pain and torture – a scene that spoke volumes of the potential depths of mankind’s wickedness.
As he took one last look at the cross, the man that they had just nailed to it, whose head had been bowed for several hours, looked up and smiled at him.
His smile was one of love and forgiveness; a smile that said it all – “It’s ok, I have already forgiven you. It’s ok.”
“It is finished” said Jesus, as He took His final breath.
Crying uncontrollably, Drachus alighted his horse and got on his knees.
It was now so obvious.
He and his companions had crucified the son of God.
They had insulted, beaten, and killed the saviour of the world.
And yet the saviour had not only forgiven him but would also seek for the forgiveness of all the others.
“I’m so sorry.
Forgive me my King.
Please forgive me.”
A lightening bolt darted across the sky
A roaring thunder
A gusty wind that seemed to carry everything in its’ path
A rain like no other descended on the city
But still Drachus remained on his knees.
Still Jesus’ mother and the two disciples knelt before the cross.
Although there was no formal acknowledgement of one another, there was a strange solidarity between them.
A union in the knowledge that mankind had just killed the son of God.
Union in the knowledge that the son of God had sacrificed himself so that they can have life.
Union in the knowledge that this was not the end.
It was only the beginning.