The Soldier in Charge of “The Watch”
I was one of the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ. It was the third day after the crucifixion of Jesus.
As it started to dawn, there was a deep rumbling noise and the whole ground started to shake. Everything was shaking. It was frightening. Then we saw what looked like a man or some sort of angel coming down from the sky above us.
I am telling you the truth. His face was flashing like lightning and his clothing was shining like snow. He came down and rolled the heavy stone from the door. He then laid the stone on the ground and sat on it! A wild terror came over us.
We couldn’t bear him looking at us with those terrible eyes burning like lamps. We were shaking with fear and fell to the ground like dead men. I felt that if I saw his face again I would die.
I remember being on the ground face down, still shaking uncontrollably, but I thought I heard some talking. Maybe it was the man talking, something about the body not being there because he had risen from the dead. Something about him going back to Galilee. I don’t know who he was talking to.
When we came to, there was no one else there, only our weapons lying on the cold ground. I looked towards the tomb and then staggered to the open entrance and saw the stone nearby. No, it hadn’t been a nightmare, it was all horribly true.
I peered inside but the tomb was empty. The body was gone. I saw the grave clothes lying there, still bearing the shape of a figure but with no body inside. I froze on the spot and couldn’t speak for a while.
I then turned to the others who were left. One of them had run off in terror). I shouted to them “He is gone, the body is gone”. The others came to the entrance and looked in. They too were speechless. Then I asked them “What are we going to do now? How will we explain this? Whoever will believe us?”.
One of us said, “You explain it. I am not going back. No one will ever believe what has happened here. We will only be severely punished. I’ve had enough, I’m going far away”.
I tried to regain my composure and said: “There is nothing else to do, we have to do our duty and report back to the priests and tell them what happened here, whether they believe us or not. Let’s go”.
One more thing, as we were going back into the City, we noticed two women hurrying also into the city, as if they had some important news to tell someone. Somehow I felt they were involved in all this, but I didn’t think to stop them and question them.
I couldn’t rest after this. I kept having nightmares, and kept on seeing that terrible face, waking up and saying over and over again, “The body is gone, the body is gone”.
One of “The Watch” Who Ran Away
I don’t really want to talk about it? What can I tell you? What happened there early that morning destroyed my life.
After the earthquake, I saw a light coming down like the figure of a man, his clothes shining like snow in the sun, his face flashing like lightning. It was terrifying beyond imagination. We were all shaking. It is hard to describe what I felt. A sense of danger I had never known. I felt myself falling like being shaken down to the ground.
I still feel shaky when I think about it to this day and I get vivid nightmares where I wake up in a cold sweat. I keep on seeing that face coming down from the sky. I used to think that all that talk about gods and spirits were just stories, but now I know, I’m telling you, nothing in this life can prepare you for we went through. I had no strength left in me to resist and was falling into a very deep sleep.
That’s it, that’s what it was like. My life is ruined, I’ll never be the same man again. I live constantly with the fear that I’ll be caught by the soldiers. I’ve always got my back to the wall. I can’t even bear talking about it. Maybe he’ll hear and come back. I wish I had never been there on that morning.
Another Soldier of “The Watch” Who Ran Away
Yes, some of us ran away. We ran for it. What would you have done in our position? Whoever was going to believe our story? They would think that we were mad.
In a way, I am still running, I guess I will always be running. Maybe I am trying to run away from the truth of what happened that morning, but it’s inside of me, inside my mind.
I have no answers but I feel it has something to do with that Jesus of Nazareth. I have heard stories about him being alive. It seems impossible but then what happened to us was impossible, but it happened. I have nothing more to say, and just want to be left alone.
One of “The Watch” Who Returned to the City
After those things, early that morning, some of us came back into the city and told the chief priest what had happened. They drew back and stared at us as if we had gone mad. Then they put us aside and told us to rest.
They assembled a council with the elders. They came back later with large bags of money and instructed us to say that his disciples at night and stole the dead body away while we were sleeping.
I knew that we were being bribed to keep silent. I tried to protest saying that’s not what happened. People will ask us how did we know they stole the body if we were sleeping? This means big trouble for us.
They said if you don’t do as we tell you, there will be even more trouble. Then one of the priests said, don’t worry if the governor hears of it, we will persuade him and safeguard you. Now take the money and tell it like we have told you.
What else could we do? Trapped between the priests and Pilate? So we took the bags of money and told the story – their story. Do you know that everyone believed us? I could hardly believe it myself. They are still repeating the lies to this day. Yes, I lied to others, but I couldn’t lie to myself about what happened on that morning.
More to follow soon…