“To guard a rock-hewn garden tomb and keep a dead man dead.”
I saw them carry in the corpse, the wrapping thick with gore.
They laid it on the granite slab centered in the floor.
What job was this for legionnaires? Our indignation rose--
But Rome still gives the orders with her discipline imposed.
The storied stone was rolled in place; we five were out of breath.
And once in place, a seal was set: to break it would be death.
We were alert, the night was cool, no ghostly hauntings there;
Suddenly the garden quaked and Power filled the air.
My breath came short. We double-checked the seal upon the stone.
Before our normal watch resumed, a deep unearthly groan
Issued from foundations and the night grew strangely colder.
Spirits? My heart pitched to hear the grating of the boulder.
Horror-struck, we watched as some Almighty, unseen hand
Rolled back that stone, no effort shown: brought down the Jewish plan.
We witnessed, knowing certain death; to fail was execution.
My fellows fell as petrified, my mind was a confusion.
Moonlight pierced, the stone rolled free and pagan death reversed.
I fought to breathe; I grasped my sword to fight: I felt the curse
Give way and out the gaping hole a figure came in white.
No blood marred Him. He was not death. Dare I trust my sight?
For one brief pause, our eyes full met. He looked at me and smiled,
Then through the waking garden strode. I rooted like a child.
I saw Him rise--I felt His strength, and peace, that makes no sense:
His liberty was my arrest. There’d be strong recompense.
We fled straight to the city and reported what occurred.
Expecting threats, recriminations, the outcome was absurd.
They offered us a soldier’s dream: retirement and gold.
Instead of twenty years, I’m free in ten and not so old!
We simply said we fell asleep and His disciples rolled
Away the stone and took Him off. They paid in Caesar’s gold.
So with a lie I saved my life, betrayed my soul, however.
When I denied I saw Him smile, His peace left me forever.