So they went and made the tomb secure … Matthew 27:66 (NIV)
Claudius stood rigidly at attention before the Tribune, his outward stance masking his inner jitters. “Now explain yourself,” growled the Tribune. “The governor may be prepared to turn a blind eye to this debacle, but it’s me you answer to!” Claudius braced himself, he went back a long way with his commanding officer.
“Begging your indulgence, Sir, it began when the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked for a guard to be posted and the tomb secured.”
“I know,” interjected the Tribune, “I ordered it.”
“In accordance with regulations,” continued Claudius, “I posted three men who were relieved every eight hours and I personally sealed the tomb before the watch commenced. I swear by Apollo, the tomb was secure.”
“So if the tomb was secure and the guard posted, where’s the body? Are the rumours true? Was the detachment asleep?”
Claudius took his time, carefully selecting his words. “The rumours are what they are, what the chief priests want the people to believe, but they’re not true. Early on Sunday morning Falerius burst into the barracks, babbling about seeing a ghost. When he calmed down he told me everything. He vows that the men weren’t asleep; they were talking about how they had a year to go with the regiment in Palestine before they’d be returning to Rome. It was then that the earth began to shake violently and an angel materialized, with an appearance like lightning, and rolled back the stone from the tomb, and sat on it. Falerius said they were so terrified they fell to the ground and lay there trembling. Salonius and Javolenus, the other two guards, corroborate his story.”
“By Jupiter and by Juno! You expect me to believe that?” shouted the Tribune. “That’s the biggest load of excretus I’ve ever heard!”
“It’s true Sir, I’ve questioned the men closely. They all saw the same thing. You know these men, Sir. They’re hardened veterans, seen their share of battles and blood, they have. They were telling the truth. I’d stake my life on it.”
“You may have to,” said the Tribune drily.
Claudius looked at his feet. It was bad business. The money he’d received from the chief priests, the bribe for him to say that the disciples had stolen the body, felt like it was burning a hole in his tunic.
“So what do you expect me to believe? Asked the Tribune softly, “I hear this man’s disciples are saying he rose from the dead.”
There, it was out, Claudius breathed a sigh of relief. It was good to get this off his chest. “Yes,” he replied, “That’s exactly what happened. Jesus is alive!”
The Tribune got to his feet, indicating the meeting was over. With a menacing sneer on his face, he hissed, “If I was you, Centurion, I’d forget this ever happened.”