Augustine Sokolovski

Among the martyrs of the ancient church there were many warriors. Previously, little attention was paid to this, but modern researchers are surprised to note that Christ was very popular in the Roman army, even among pagans. Moreover, he was dearly loved by Christians.

It is amazing that the Roman soldiers chose as their ideal not any demigod or all-conquering hero, but the Great Sufferer. “There is no greater love than if a man lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This key quotation for understanding the essence of the Gospel of John is said in the circumstances of the Last Supper. It points to the voluntariness of the suffering of the Lord.

Anticipating his crucifixion in the mysteries of His Body and Blood, Jesus announced that He would be crucified on the Cross not because of unfortunate circumstances but would give His life for the salvation of the world that God loved (John 3:16). It is important that, according to the Romans of that time, who innocently experienced the depth of suffering, comprehended the truth in a special way. Thus, the Gospel spread where it was least expected.

To paraphrase Metallica, Jesus is the Harvester of Sorrow. So paradoxically and unexpectedly, the Roman society of that time ripened to the harvest of the gospel (John 4:35), in which, in an amazing succession of miracles, signs, and, importantly, the omnipotent kenosis of the Living God of the Bible, in fulfillment of the messianic words of Isaiah, the soldiers beat their swords into plowshares (cf. Isaiah 22:4), the martyrs became the true Apostles of Christ.