For last year’s Good Friday service, College Park had a series of monologues imagining that minor characters from the Gospels were witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion. Each of them had an encounter with Jesus that changed their life; each encounter is connected to an aspect of Jesus’ suffering and death. They’re more or less answering the question, “Why are you here?” I was able to write three of those monologues, and I’d like to share them here!
The first one is of the centurion whose servant was healed by Jesus across a huge distance – story in Luke 7.
He had authority. The first news I heard of him seemed impossible: he cast out demons, healed the sick with a touch or even just a word. He said, “Be clean,” and leprosy vanished. “Rise,” and a paralytic stands up and walks. I knew the Scriptures from the synagogue; no one had had power like that since Elisha.
And his teaching was even more unbelievable. He claimed to be lord of the Sabbath; the Sabbath, directly commanded by God through Moses! And he forgave sins?! No one but God can forgive sins! In anyone else, I’d have thought they were insane. But the stories of healings kept coming, from people I trusted, and his teaching … there was something different about his teaching.
I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but the more I thought about it, that word – authority – kept repeating itself in my head. Jesus had authority, more authority than any other human. I began believing it, and when he brought my servant back from the edge of death from across Capernaum, I knew it.
Jesus deserved reverence. I was in Jerusalem for the Passover when he came, and what we did – laying out palm-branches – was right. He deserved the welcome.
But then …
[Pause. Centurion is overcome by strong emotion, and recollects himself]
Then they arrested him. They beat him. They dressed him in purple and shoved that crown of thorns on his head. They made him into the parody of a king and mocked him, bowing down to him and pretending to give him reverence. He deserved a crown; he deserved their reverence. And they gave him scorn and spite. The one man who deserves a crown of gold; the crowns of all the kings on earth, wore that mockery of a crown instead!
I don’t understand it. He had the power to make that not happen. He had authority over disease and even death; surely he had the authority to do … something. Why didn’t he? How could he have let that happen?
Jesus had an authority I don’t fully understand. I saw it, and others saw it too. He should have been put on a throne, but they nailed him to the Cross instead. He deserved reverence, but he submitted to mockery and the most shameful death my people can bring. I’m here because I want to understand why.