How often have men missed the sight of great historic occurrences, in their attention to the routine of life! So it was that Quintus did not witness the tragic events of that Passover week on which human destiny was to turn. To Tyre on the Great Sea he had gone, to arrange for the landing of a new quota of troops from Brundisium. The commander at Scopus had chosen him for the responsible mission, in token of his especial fitness. The compliment was pleasing. But in his absence he was ever thinking of the promise made by the Teacher in Solomon’s Porch, that the sheep who followed him should have eternal life.
Astir was all Jerusalem, when the knight returned to Scopus. It was on the morning after the Lord’s resurrection. That Roman centurion who had been at Calvary reviewed for Quintus the fateful happenings. With pomp reminding of a Roman triumph the Christ had entered David’s city; after four days Iscariot had betrayed him with a kiss; for blasphemy Pilatus, the procurator, had sentenced him to the cross; they had put on him a scarlet robe in mockery; they had hung him between two robbers on the hill of Golgotha; a brutal soldier now at Scopus had won by lot his seamless robe, and was jauntily displaying it as a trophy; an uncanny darkness had covered the Judaean sky; the soldier Longinus had pierced the sufferer’s side; they had buried the dead Christ in the garden tomb of the Arimathaean Joseph. Monumental events were these—all new to Quintus, but destined to be written indelibly in the calendars of Christendom.
“More than this,” continues the centurion, “an amazing rumor is now abroad in the city that yesterday the dead Christus awoke from his sleep and has been five times seen by his amazed disciples. When I beheld him yield up the ghost, I hailed his death as that of a devout man, but little did I think that he was a God and would return from the tomb. The report says he has now come back. On swift wing the rumor has flown through Jerusalem and even into Pilate’s palace.”
Down from the heights of Scopus the hurrying feet of Quintus carry him to Jerusalem. Doubts and wonderings and half-beliefs fill his mind. What if by any shadow of possibility the prediction of the strange Teacher has been fulfilled, that he should return from the dead on the third day? Finding his way to Joseph’s garden, Quintus stands by an empty sepulcher. There is a group of wondering visitors near, and among them is one whose inviting face leads Quintus to accost him. Not frightened by the sword and armor of the Roman knight, but assured by his candid look, the other answers in the Aramaic which both can speak:
“Johannes is my name. Till three years ago I was a fisherman, up on the waters of Gennesaret. Since then I have been a disciple of this Man from Galilee. In his company I have heard surprising words and have felt a heavenly influence. He was no ordinary Teacher. He was indeed from above.”