–written by Trinity’s Rebecca Jo Earls for Good Friday, 2018
Lights go off, heads bow during a prayer. Man dressed in a robe and sandals enters, takes his place. After prayer, soft light focuses on him.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is…”
(Interrupted by 3 dramatic clangs of a hammer)
“Wait! Did you hear that – that awful sound?”
Places hands over ears for a moment)
“You can’t hear that hammer, pounding again and again against those bloody nails?
It had never bothered me during my many years as a Roman soldier – not once. And I was good at my work. I knew precisely how to position the body and where to place those nails for maximum effect. The length of torture and pain a man endured before he tasted the sweet release of death was all in my hands.
But before you judge me too harshly, please know that I had a wife and two sons to clothe and feed – what choice did I have? I was a soldier, and a soldier does what he is commanded to do. So I did my duty. Each week I raised my hammer high and swung hard – there was no room for moral contemplation.
My heart became so calloused that I barely heard their screams for mercy as I drove metal into flesh and sent blood splattering about my tunic.
Then came that day – the day a man named Jesus was to be crucified. The one they called King of the Jews. Ha! How dare this imposter – this lunatic – put himself above Caesar and call himself King? Soon he would be just another bloody corpse for the worms…
Turns out he was no different than the rest. He screamed, bled and cried just like the man before him. He looked like no king now. I took pride in my work, for this man surely deserved his sentence.
In my zeal to end his life, I barely felt the weight as we hoisted his cross high up in the air – the sooner he hung for all to see, the better. Now everyone would see the Jew for what he really was – just an ordinary, pathetic man. The other men and I enjoyed mocking this “King.” We hurled insult after insult as some gathered nearby and cast lots for his garments.
Then this man, this bloodied mess of torn flesh, raised his head towards the Heavens and through split lips pleaded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
Ten simple words. But they turned my world upside down. I had just slammed three nails into the wrists and feet of this man, and he asked God to forgive me? To forgive ME? I still had his blood on my hands, and he wants to forgive ME???
The day this man called Jesus lost his life, I found mine. I no longer wear the uniform of Rome. I left behind my bloody armor and hate-riddled heart and took my family into hiding. How could I go back to my old way of life after that? I had found my Lord and I would never be the same.
But my hands….how can I get past what these hands have done?
I won’t deny it was my nails that bound Him to the cross. Only later did I realize – it wasn’t the nails that kept Him on that cross – no – it was His all-consuming love for me, and you, and all humanity that held Him there.
Yes, it was Love that took Him to the cross and kept Him there…Love.”
(Bows head – lights off).