You see a lot when you’re a guard - you’re invisible, so people show their true colours. The crowd was baying for blood, like they were mad - taunting this poor chap who was covered in blood and mud. Someone had put a trick crown on his head, made out of some prickly desert branches - dressed him up like a clown king. Blood was weeping down his face where the thorns were, and he couldn’t even wipe it away from his eyes because both his hands were trying to carry his cross.

Now I’ve seen plenty of crucifixions, but the repulsive thing about this one was that the crowd was loving it - really enjoying hurting this chap. Throwing things at him and laughing if he winced, enjoying humiliating him. Throwing back in his face things they reckon he’d said to them: ‘You said you were a king. Don’t look much like a king now, do you!’ Like a mob of children taunting a wounded animal that can’t get away.

But through all of it there was a silence about the man - the baying crowd, shouting, fighting, even fighting with each other - through it all he seemed not to move. Such a peace about him. Not that he could have really felt any peace, the pain he must have been in, but there was such a stillness, such dignity. As if by not fighting back, not carrying on like them, he had more of everything than any of them. Anyone can snarl and fight, anyone can cry out in pain, I’ve seen it all. But there aren’t many who can just take it without losing something.

And my boss, Pilate, he mightn’t have been in the baying crowd, but how did he look? A squirming coward wriggling out of his job - apparently his wife told him the man was important, and he couldn’t find a case against him anyway. So what does he do? Turns him over to the crowd with a shrug of his shoulders! And those old priests from the temple - fat and pious bastards in their rich robes, watching smugly while the crowd did their dirty work for them, did what they didn’t have the guts to do themselves.

Well, when he called out like that I knew he must be something unimaginable, like a god or something, and I felt such awe flood over me that I fell to my knees. His peace, his stillness, his love, became my peace, my stillness, my love. His voice cried out from his great fount of stillness - the stillness and dignity he had kept all along. The words just rent the air, like a great roar coming from the very core of the earth itself, as if the whole of creation was dying with him.

No wonder the great curtain in the temple tore apart.

Page Updated October 25, 2020