Centurion: Atten- shun!
Centurion: At ease, soldier. You have the prisoner in the guardhouse?
Centurion: How is he?
Soldier: He’s a bit of mess, Sir, after the lashes. But he’s a stubborn bugger, beg pardon Sir, a stubborn man, insists on standing up, when he could sit down.
Centurion: I’ll take a look at him myself to see if he’s fit to carry the stake. You go off and tell the men I’ll be ready for them in five minutes.
Centurion: Jesus of Nazareth, greetings, I’m Marcus Severus Graecus, centurion charged with your execution. Please be seated.
Jesus: Excuse me for standing. Your men with the lashes have made my back and buttocks too raw to sit.
Centurion: I understand. I’ll come to the point as we have little time. I saw how you maintained your dignity with Pontius Pilatus and wondered if you could maintain it during the lashes. But you did.
Jesus: Just about. A few more and I might have been screaming.
Centurion: Yes, that’s just the point. You may have seen crucifixions…. No? …Well let me tell you that nobody maintains his dignity on a cross. Oh sure, I’ve seen some very tough men, who didn’t scream when the nails went in, and even laughed and joked for the first hour, but after two or three hours they were broken creatures pleading for death.
Jesus: You’re telling me this because you thought I might be looking forward to it?
Centurion: No I’m telling you because I think you’re a good man and I don’t want to see you lose control, you know, lose control of your bladder and bowels as well as your courage, so I’ve come to offer you an alternative.
Centurion: A good Roman alternative, such as we’d offer any Roman who had offended.
Centurion: A quick death. Best, I can run you through and tell my men you struggled to escape.
Jesus: No, I can’t agree to that. It is not your place and it is not the truth about me.
Centurion: Very well. the second best is I leave you this sword and you’ll have time to do it yourself. Think, you’re going to die anyway, but cruelly, painfully, without dignity, causing great suffering to yourself and to any of your people who are present. No, don’t argue. Your life is in your own hands. You can end it if you want.
Jesus: Thank you, Marcus Severus, for your kindness. I hope you are not disappointed in me.
( Jesus picks up the sword, looks at it for a moment or two, then lays it gently on a bench. He smiles. Soon he hears the noise of the crucifixion detachment arriving outside.)
Yesterday the UK parliament debated a motion to legalise assisted suicide and rejected it in spite of many sincere and suffering people supporting it.
I support assisted death. I want to have the freedom to choose the time of my exit. Although Jesus did not accept the centurion’s sword, he did choose the time of his death. Luke says, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (9:51), and if the Gospels are to be believed, he knew what awaited him there.