Posted June 2019
My name is Petronius, the Centurion,
a battle-hardened soldier.
Although for years I’ve watched men die horrible deaths,
and put many to death,
I’ve never been able to forget that Friday at Golgotha,
or these words – “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
It was the job assigned to us that day – three men to be crucified.
We’d done it many times before.
Nails were driven into them and soon silhouetted against the sky
the world could see 3 men hanging on 3 crosses.
One of them was different –
not the usual ruffian that struggled, fought and swore.
They said He called Himself the Son of God.
The sign over his head read – THE KING OF THE JEWS.
As we watched and waited we could hear His words.
His answer to the robber by His side puzzled me.
Could a mere man promise, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise?”
I heard His agonizing cry as He was abandoned by His Father,
And the special words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Soldiers can usually cope with fear, but happenings that day terrified us.
The sun went dark at noon. The earth was quaking under our feet.
The whole Creation seemed angry with what we were doing.
When I heard Him shout, “It is Finished” as He gave up the ghost,
I knew with certainty, “Truly, He was the Son of God.”
Now every day these words are my comfort . . . . . . .
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Certainly this was a righteous man, the very Son of God.
By Doris Stensland – March 2014