The Centurion - Easter Poem
Joyce Carr Stedelbauer Share page


When the Captain of the Roman military unit handling the
executions saw what had happened, he was stricken with
awe before God and said, surely this man is innocent.

Luke 23

The Centurion was hardened to hideous scenes like
this. Crucifixion was the main form of death executed by
the Roman government.  He saw his distasteful job as a necessary
evil in order to be promoted someday and ordered
to a Roman legion, perhaps sailing the fresh winds of the

I serve Caesar.
I am loyal, rigorously trained, stronger than chains
that bind our prisoners and proud to be a Roman.
Not like these poor, pitiful Jews that scurry
about these dusty streets like dogs, whimpering
every time I pass on my powerful horse, as if
I would ever bother with them at all.
I am assigned only to serve Pontius Pilate,
Governor of Judea.

The newest Prisoner must be extremely important –
arrested in the night and already sent to the Praetorian.

Make hast, my steed!
Whoa – Who is this?
Beaten bloody beyond recognition –
like fresh meat dripping at the butcher’s stall –
He is a Jew, but why before Pilate?

I slapped His face for impudence – but –
O, His eyes –
Others plucked His beard – I – I – could not –
but I spit upon Him in utter contempt.
O – but, His eyes were deep pools of sorrow.
I pressed a royal robe upon His raw shoulders, but
there was no anger in His eyes.

All the tortured way to the place of the skull
He never spoke, groaned yes, but never
complained under the agony of the Cross.
The jeering crowd mocked, cursed and reviled Him.

I choked on the dust, wiped horror from my face,
clutched my raging belly.  I held the nails –
the hammer blows struck – one – two – three.
Stumbling aside, I embarrassed myself in the weeds.
He spoke from the Cross – guttural words, piercing words,
of the Father, Thirst, and Forgiveness.
O, His eyes – His eyes locked with mine –

Now, I serve the Crucified Christ.

I am loyal,
rigorously forgiven,
stronger than chains which bound my soul
and humbled to be a follower of this Jew.
Matthew 27

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Used with permission by Joyce Carr Stedelbauer from her book “WHO ROLLED THE STONE?

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