The Commander took the young man
by the hand,
drew him aside and asked,
“What is it you want to tell me?”
I have long loved this verse because it shows a type of beauty often missing in our world.
A man, a tough, martial kind of guy, has a child by the hand. Gently.
And it’s not just any ol’ kid, either. The Commander has the son of the enemy by the hand. People who hate him have spawned this boy and he’s got him by the hand, drawing him to a private place somewhere inside the deep crevasses of the Roman military barracks.
Away from the other guys.
Away from listening ears.
Away from perhaps terrifying sounds and cruel or obscene remarks about Jews.
The young man has a message for him and believes the Commander will want to hear it. Why? Maybe he’s watched the man in action, before and noted a spark of humanity in him. Maybe the man has shared a bite of ration with him.
Maybe the boy just thought it worth the risk. After all, his message could save a man’s life — his uncle’s life, in fact.
The record states he took it upon himself to approach the Roman Commander with his news, though, and for some reason, the Commander took the boy quite seriously.
Maybe he enjoyed being watched, perhaps imitated, by a young kid.
Maybe he noted the earnestness in the lad’s face and instinctively knew something of great import was on his radar screen.
Maybe he was a dad far from his own brave son.
However it was, a huge, hardened hand of a Conquering Commander held the smooth, youthful hand of a Jewish boy, and together they changed history:
The boy’s uncle, Paul of Tarsus, escaped a wicked assassination plot, a lynch mob.
The last words we know of from this man with the huge hands are, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”
It was, after all, quite politically incorrect for them to have had a conversation at all.
But they had hands.
And they held history in their hands.