Posts Tagged ‘Cornelius’

The continuing story of two traitors: Cornelius and Peter. The night of the grill Jesus was betrayed into the hands of his enemies. Cornelius was the Roman presence as the chief priests captured and tried Jesus at Caiaphas’ palace.

Peter following the crowd to the palace gate. He sat nervously by a fire.

Bystander: It’s getting colder! Hey, weren’t you with the Messiah guy?

Peter: No. You’re thinking of somebody else.

Another bystander: No, I’m sure you were with him in the Temple. I saw you!

Peter: Seriously? You think I’d get sucked into this Messiah business? No way.

Cornelius waited at the gate as well. He wanted nothing to do with Jewish religious politics — especially with regard to Jesus of Nazareth. As long as things were relatively peaceful. He would watch, not act. He moved nearer the fire and listened.

Peter: I have a twin brother. Maybe you saw him.

Cornelius: Nah, you are one of them. I remember seeing you with him in Jerusalem a year or so ago. He healed one of my servants.

Peter: I say, ‘Hail Caesar! Not, Hail King of the Jews!’ The hell with this, I’m out of here!

Cornelius and the others watch as Peter disappears into the night muttering under his breath. Cornelius turns and walks into the courtyard. Jesus is in the middle of a group of Temple guards and clerics. He’s taking a beating, but makes no sound.

Cornelius (shakes his head and thinks to himself): Jewish justice. Religious fanatics. He doesn’t deserve this. They gripe about Rome, but look at these bloodthirsty fools!

The leaders and priests walk over to Cornelius.

Caiaphas: We need to take him to the Governor’s palace. We’ll have a riot here if we pursue this further here. Take possession of the prisoner and escort us. Pilate’s orders.

Cornelius: As you wish.

Cornelius has a front row seat for Jesus’ mock trial, beating, humiliation and crucifixion. He waits on Golgotha for the injustice to end. He’s been involved in a lot of death, but this is too much. The skies darken and all that can be heard are the sobs of a handful of women nearby.

Jesus (turning a swollen, knowing eye toward Cornelius): It is finished!

Cornelius is amazed. He has seen death take men, but never a man take death. It was like someone leaving a room.

Cornelius: Surely, this was the Son of God!

At the end of his duty shift he called for a scribe.

Scribe: Sir?

Cornelius: Take this down: ‘I, Cornelius, Centurion of the Italian Regiment, herewith resign my commission. In consideration of leave accrued, this resignation is effective immediately. I depart for the coast today and will sail with the first favorable tide.’ Deliver this to the Governor’s palace immediately.

Cornelius retired to Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, troubled with the role he played in Christ’s crucifixion. He prayed to God with his household for forgiveness on a daily basis.

Peter was staying with Simon the tanner in Joppa when he had a dream and followed the Spirit’s leadership to Caesarea (Acts 16).

Peter finds himself knocking on a retired Centurion’s door in Caesarea. The door opens and a servant escorts Peter’s crew into the inner court. There, he is met by Cornelius and his household.

Cornelius (looking closely): I know you.

Peter (looking down): I know you, too.

Cornelius: You denied your Lord…

Peter: You crucified…

Silence.

Peter spends the rest of the evening telling Cornelius the story of the risen Christ. Confessions are made. Burdens are dropped. The gospel brings peace and forgiveness to both.

Tr8: Confession lightens the heart. Peace is in forgiveness. Bonds are forged in suffering.

It’s the night before Jesus’ arrest. Everyone has gathered at Mary’s house. They are grilling hamburgers. Most of the disciples are upstairs, but Jesus, Peter, Mark, and his cousin, Barnabas, are on the porch. A gentle breeze is blowing from the west. Jesus is working the grill.

Mary, Mark’s mother, is a widow. She hands Barnabas a plate full of burgers. Barnabas, her elder brother’s son, came to Jerusalem to help her four years earlier. Barnabas holds the plate while Jesus moves ’em to the grill. Mary ducks back inside and reminds her serving girl, Rhoda, to put a large bowl of water and a towel upstairs.

Mark is the youngster on the porch. He’s fatherless, but father rich — all three men on the porch think of him as their son.

Peter: How’s school, kid?

Mark: Don’t ask. Mom’s grounded me ’cause I wrote, ‘Roma edunt vermes’ on my Latin notebook.

Peter: That could be dangerous, kid. Rome has no sense of humor.

Jesus: Work on your Greek, Mark. Peter’s gonna need a good scribe someday.

Barnabas (to Jesus and Peter): Mark’s in the top of his class. The only kid who comes close is a senior named Saul…he’s a bit of a mess, but if he ever discovers humility he’ll be something.

Jesus (rotating the burgers): Barnabas, I want you to keep a close eye on Mark and this “Saul” kid. As I said before, I’m going away…

Peter: Here we go again…

Jesus: Seriously, Simon? We have a tough weekend ahead. Get in the game. Barnabas, Saul and Mark are both going to need your encouragement, so be ready.

Barnabas nods. Jesus flips the burgers. A Macadonian centurion with a squad of Romans walk past the gate.

Peter: Those guys still give me the creeps. That centurion works in Pilate’s palace. Wasn’t it his servant you healed long-distance?

Jesus: Yep. He’s a good man with a really tough job. He’ll retire after this weekend in a state of total disillusionment. Peter, you’ll see him tonight at the High Priest’s palace and again in the future. You’ll both have betrayals to talk about. You’ll become close. I will give you both peace.

Peter: Rabbi, I’m not seein’ that. Centurions are not my cup of tea…

Jesus points the spatula at Peter and shakes his head. The burgers sizzle.

Mark: Jesus, when I get out of school, can I follow you?

Barnabas: Mark, ANYONE who wishes can follow Jesus. I’ve never seen him turn anyone away. Right, Lord?

Jesus: Barnabas, you’re truly ‘the son of encouragement.’  Yeah, Mark, you and Barnabas will follow me.

The sun dips toward the horizon. The hamburgers on the grill are about done. Jesus flips them and puts cheese on them. Mary comes out with a platter.

Jesus (with a deep sigh): Okay guys, let’s head upstairs. Mark, take notes tonight. In Greek.

Tr8: Follow. The sooner the better. Take notes