A Story of the Executioner at Golgotha by Harry L. Whitt
After their scourging, we herded the three men through the jeering streets to Golgotha. The citizens of Jerusalem hate us only a bit less than we hate them. Being assigned to the occupation force of Judea is a good point for a possible promotion but today the city is set on edge. One of the three is a popular prophet to the common people but hated by the elites of their counsel.
Finally, we are out of the bustle of the city streets and bring the three miserable souls to the top of the hill, the place of the skull. The rock outcropping resembles a skull, and today it the place of execution for all to see.
The schemer who devised the crucifixion is to be congratulated. Nothing puts the fear and dread in occupied people as the crucifixion. It is an agonizing death to endure and to witness. I have killed countless men in warfare with sword and spear, but this is the most gruesome of all.
The poor creatures are hammered on the cross with hand forged spikes which tear flesh and sinew. We set their knees at a bend, so they can push up to catch a breath of air, and then hang by their arms until they began to smother. This reeling up and down until their last life fades from their bodies takes sometimes days. It is a wretched sight for wretched souls.
We put the so-called prophet in the middle as he is the most renown. The other two are common thieves. The middle one gets the most attention as some of his mourners are at the foot of his cross. Some say his mother is present along with mostly women and a few men. Why do they come to see? I do not know.
His scourging left his back nothing but ribbons of flesh with clotted blood. He cried out as we laid him on the splintered wood. Then we raised his cross and the jar of the upright going from empty hole to solid earth left him with a quiver in his body that took some time cease.
At the base of the cross was a growing pool of red licked up by starving dogs. Flies began to swarm over the bodies of the men, drinking in the oozing blood and fluid from their bodies. We nailed a sign over the prophet’s head depicting his crime. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin stating, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS”. That was the best we could ascertain of his guilt. No king but Caesar. No deliverer for the Jews. Curse them all to the depths of hell for all I care!
I have put many rebellious zealots to their death. They all hated me as much as I hated them. It is my pleasure to kill when bloody rage runs both ways. After years one grows numb to the bloodletting and death. This one is some different than the others whose hearts I stopped.
I heard his words, perhaps a prayer, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I thought it strange, as I knew very well what I was doing. My occupation was control and as a seasoned executioner, I kept populations under control by horror. He prayed to his God for my forgiveness, so strange for a dying man by my hands. I remember him looking at me with more pity than I could have thought to look at him.
We hung the bloody beggars in the third hour of the day. Their moans and shifting spasms on the cross continued. From the onlookers were a few sobs but mostly jeers and cursing from the delighted souls at their dying. As dwellers of earth, what a pit we have dug for ourselves.
When the sun was straight in the sky, suddenly darkness upon the face of the land. Along with the dreadful darkness was an earthquake. There was a chill in the air, not from cold winds but from the fear that fell on us all. It was a horrible happening. I thought surely this was the end of all we knew. It felt as if any moment all of earth and sky would disintegrate into nothingness.
The darkness remained until the ninth hour. I have been in battle and treacherous seas, but it was one the most dreadful three hours of my life. If there is a God in Heaven, surely, He is angry.
At the moment before the darkness ceased, I heard the prophet on the cross cry with despair, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
As the light began to return, he exclaimed with his last strength, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And then moments later, “It is finished!” His head went limp and the body that once was quivering with pain relaxed and hung like a rag on a peg.
Usually, my heart was unshaken by blood, mayhem, and death. But my being was undone by the sights and his words, surely if anyone was, this was the righteous Son of God.
The accused usually hang in torture for days except the order was received to break their legs to hasten death. I ordered my men to break the large bones in their thighs with the large mallet. The men on either end who had little breath or strength remaining screamed in tortured agony at the breaking of their bones.
When my men came to the prophet, they looked and told me he was dead. Just to be sure, I pierced his side with a spear and a profusion of blood and body fluid spilled to the ground. Yes, he was dead because death I knew.
The bodies of all were taken from the trees because of the Jews’ Sabbath. I was happy to have an end of this horrible day. Back at the barracks, I dismissed my men for the day.
I retired to my quarters eating a pot of lentil stew filled the flesh of swine. The Jews spurned the flesh of the pig, but I found it tasteful and full of grease. The usual harlot knocked at my door, I gave her a few coins and shooed her away for a different night.
I collapsed on my cot for longed awaited rest. For a few minutes my mind reeled about on the events of the day and the eyes of the prophet even haunted me now. My body and emotions were too weary for my mind to process the day, so I crumpled into sleep.
My sleep was troubled by a dream. In my dream, I heard a wailing of multitudes. The cry was unlike any I had heard before. It was not the sound of wailing women over their dead or children crying from fright, all from which I was deaf. It was the collected cry of more than a captured city but as a cry from the breadth of the earth. A wail that culminated with all the wicked generations upon the entirety of all the earth.
In my dream, I looked into the sky and my heart melted as the others. I saw the Heavens with clouds of radiant light luminating the dark world. Bursting through the clouds were a multitude on white steeds mounted with warriors arrayed in brilliant white robes. They welded swords of polished steel of such I had never seen. There were ten-thousands upon ten-thousands, an innumerable army that my mind could never conceive. I just knew they were once the humble of the earth who believed, but now they are those who will reign with Him forever.
In the lead was One so magnificent in grandeur. He was clothed in white linen beyond the whiteness my eyes had ever seen. There was golden band around His garment that glistened with a brilliance of the sun. His face was like lightning and His eyes were like the fire of a hot furnace. This magnificent leader had arms and legs as strong as bronze. When He spoke, His single voice roared like the sound of a great number in multitude.
We all fell like dead men, yet still aware of His presence. My heart was dismayed beyond life, and I fell as dead condemned at the sight of His countenance. He is the Prophet I had pierced. Now my fate was doomed and the one I ridiculed and rejected was now ever so recognizable as the SON OF GOD OF ALL CREATION AND LIFE. I had known His name as Jesus of Nazareth but now I know He is the COMING KING of all there is.
All the wailing ones were as dead men with a condemnation of all those who rejected His Name. The everlasting fire will be our wages, and our fates are sealed alongside the great deceiver and his demonic horde. Now I the once feared centurion executioner will be a coal of Hell.
From my dream I died a trillion deaths…
Revelation 1:7 NKJV
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7 NKJV).
The night has passed, and it is still day. Awake from your sleep O’ dreamer! Arise, believe, and repent in the crucified and resurrected Savior, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God and Live!
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt