[You get two posts today for your patience.]
For school I had to write a paper that was a first person account of a story in the book of Luke. I wrote about the resurrection of Jesus from the view of a Roman soldier guarding Jesus’s tomb. I named him Maximus Manlius Lucius, which means “greatest morning light.”
This is a fictional account written by a fictional character, but Jesus certainly is real and really rose from the dead.
The Account of Jesus’s Resurrection (According to Maximus Manlius Lucius)
The sun was just beginning to set, and a cool breeze made way for the approaching night. I walked along the path with my fellow soldiers. We were dispatched to guard the tomb of Jesus, a Nazarene who claimed to be the king of the Jews. But there was only one king in Rome: Caesar Augustus! We were bound by loyalty to him, the emperor of Rome, a god himself. But this Jesus claimed to be king, and he had been crucified for his blasphemy.
“Lucius,” my red-haired companion said to me, “is this not going to be great? Instead of fighting in battle or something else perilous, we get to loaf around a tomb and beat up any Jewish scum that tries to steal the Nazarene’s body!”
I returned, “O Rufus, why are you a soldier, who has no desire to fight? And what if there is a riot? There is only five of us.”
“Yes,” began Nero, the commander, “a riot would be deathly to us. And what if the demons the Jews always talk about actually are at the tombs?”
“You do not actually believe that, do you?” asked Nerva, a strong fighter.
“I do not know, but I would not liken to being overcome by a spirit, Nerva.”
“Jupiter will protect us,” Rufus insisted.
“Jupiter does what he wills,” I said, “and if it is his will that we be overcome by demons, it shall happen. Let us serve Caesar Augustus, for he shows favor upon those who swear allegiance.”
“Well said, Lucius,” Nero replied, “Now let us make haste to the tomb, lest any robbers arrive before us and take the Nazarene’s body.”
Thus, I along with Nerva, Rufus, and the never-speaking Tacitus, followed Nero to the tomb. The tomb was in a garden, and there were many places a robber could make himself hidden. The tomb had a large boulder to cover the entrance, and we put a seal on it so no one could move it. Nero assigned Nerva and Rufus to one side of the stone, and Tacitus and I to the other, while he searched for Jewish grave robbers. Or, more likely, Jewish women.
The night went as expected. Rufus made inappropriate jokes, and received several punches from Nerva. I murmured to myself as I reiterated my devotion to Caesar, and Tacitus said nothing. At some point Nero arrived and said it was time to sleep. One of us would keep watch, while the rest would sleep. Nerva took the first watch, and next was to be Rufus, Nero, Tacitus, and finally myself. I laid my head down to sleep.
I was walking to the Capitol, and there before me stood Caesar Augustus himself. “Lucius,” he said, “You are a great soldier and worthy fighter. Today you shall be my personal guard, and together we shall ride into battle and conquer nations.”
Caesar brought out my horse. Its hair was pure white, and its muscles bulged in anticipation of battle. Its mane flowed gallantly down its neck. The horse pounded its hooves fiercely. I mounted my horse, and by Caesar’s side I rode off to battle, when a tap to my shoulder suddenly brought me back to my somber reality: I was guarding a dead Nazarene. Tacitus looked at me with expressionless eyes and then lay down to sleep. It was my turn to keep watch.
Keeping watch was boring and uneventful. How I longed to fight alongside Caesar! I thought I would sit peering into the night forever. I was convinced my fate would never change, which, naturally, was the very moment that it did. A sudden, violent earthquake shook the ground. In an instant, we were all awake and afraid out of our wits. Lightning began coming down from heaven in the form of a man. His clothes were as white as snow, and his eyes were filled with a terrifying fire. He wielded a sword forged of an immortal smith. His face looked as if it had never felt fear. He was a god!
“Jupiter!” I cried. “Have mercy upon me!”
The man paid no attention to me. Instead he began to roll away the stone which covered Jesus’s tomb. This was no god! This was an angel of the Lord of the Hebrews! He had come for the Nazarene! My fellow soldiers were on the ground as if they were dead, and only I saw what happened next. As the rolling stone made way to the door, light poured out of the tomb, so bright as if Sol himself were inside the tomb. Out from the tomb walked Jesus, in transcendent glory, emanating an unearthly light. His hands bore the scars of the evil that had been done to him, yet his face showed no such evidence. All that could be seen was power and might. One could see in his eyes the honor of the conquerer of death. His glory was too much to behold, and his radiance burned my eyes. My head throbbed because of his magnificence, and I fell to the ground in pain and submission. This man really was God. This man was the King of the Jews. He had overcome the enemy, and His reign was inevitable. On earth, and heaven above.