Christ's Journal Part 15
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Pilate resented a jeering mob and tried to establish order.
He commanded men to a.s.sume positions in the Babbatha yard. Calling several priests, he said, shouting at them:
"You have brought this man before me. You say he perverts the people.
I find no fault in him. I will punish him and release him."
He sat on his tribunal chair, his wife beside him. Raising his hand he resumed:
"I will free a man. Who will it be? Barabbas? Do you want Barabbas free or Christ? Choose your man."
"Barabbas...Barabbas," the priests shouted, and the crowd repeated his name, a man known for his crimes.
"What shall I do with Jesus?"
"Crucify him...crucify him."
"What has he done?"
The crowd answered: "Crucify him."
Shall I continue this journal? Will others accept my account? Shall I simply destroy these words? As days pa.s.s I am able to re-live the sadness. There is a chance to diminish man's cruelty. I take that chance. We are here in this world to make life worthy. We are here to teach others. Teaching is no easier than learning. No one has ever had my vantage point: this permits me to continue.
I searched for a friendly face among the mob...Peter...Mother...Matthew... Clibus...
Barabbas was brought before the judges and liberated with jeers and laughter. He pa.s.sed by me, a great, tall man. As he walked away I was led to a whipping post, bound, and lashed with thongs; I was lashed until unconscious. Courage, where was my courage to bear the cru- cifixion.
I tried to think...
In a barren hall soldiers stripped me and put a filthy robe around me and forced a crown of thorns on my head. Six or eight men confronted me. They mocked me.
"Hail, king of the Jews," they hollered.
Priests appeared and cried: "Crucify him...he calls himself the Son of G.o.d. Kill him." Pilate appeared and asked: "Who are you?" I could not speak because of pain.
"Speak to me...don't you realize I have the power to set you free."
I was thinking of Judas.
A Roman officer spoke out: "He's an enemy of Rome...he defies Caesar." "Our emperor is Caesar," a priest shouted.
"Take him away," Pilate said. "He is yours." He took water and washed his hands before the crowd. "I am innocent of the blood of this man,"
Again I looked for my disciples but now a centurion in cuira.s.s and armed soldiers, carrying s.h.i.+elds, grabbed me and forced me outside.
"To the cross," someone said. "To the cross," another repeated.
I was amazed to find myself walking. It isn't far, it isn't far, I told myself.
We descended a stepped path. The bridge lay ahead. People jammed the bridge. We climbed a steep bank, pa.s.sed houses, trees, rocks. The centurion ordered me to carry the crossbeam. As he compelled me to take the beam he gave me water.
It was nearly noon.
I shouldered the beam, fell, tried again. The officer ordered an onlooker to carry the beam. I heard a priest shout: "If any man wishes to prove the innocence of Jesus, let him speak." His voice, his robe, the beam, the crowd... I can't remember. Yet I remember men selling dates, hawking fruit. I wanted the food of earth, life itself.
My mother broke through the crowd and embraced me. A little farther on I heard Lazarus call. I saw Martha. She was kneeling, reaching toward me. Peter, Luke, Clibus, Mark. I saw. I loved them, their faces like old graven coins.
I saw them all the way to the spot where they laid the cross on the ground. I prayed for courage, strength to endure, as they stripped off my clothes.
Then men pounded a nail through my hand and I was blinded, torn with pain. Then I felt greater pain as they pounded a nail through my legs and then I felt no more pain until I hung on the cross.
I looked and looked but could make out nothing; then I saw two men hanging on crosses beside me. I looked at them and they looked at me.
I saw people below me; I heard women and children crying. I tried to speak to them. But as I hung there everything began to move away from me: a great distance swam around me. I thought of a mirage. Someone put a sponge to my mouth. Then I saw my mother, I saw Martha, Lazarus, people I had cured. A soldier shoved his spear into me. I tried to say something... That is all that I remember.
Joseph of Arimathea obtained permission to remove my body from the cross. He and my disciples placed it in his family crypt. He provided a robe and cloth to cover my face. I lay in his tomb, myrrh and aloe about me; there I lay for three days.
eter is a descendant of a nomadic tribe. Euodia, his mother, is a gnarled woman, dark, serious. She and Peter built this house after her husband died. She had had enough of desert privation. Last night she spread a special table for my homecoming: pomegranate juice, melon, cheese, bread, nuts, chromis and another fish, clarias, my favorite. Euodia is an expert with olive oil-perhaps some are nomad recipes. At supper time she accepted me easily; Matthew and Peter were wary, afraid, shy.
While we were eating, Peter said:
"Master, how can it be you were crucified eight days ago... Can you say that you are well?" He brushed his hand over his yellow beard. "I couldn't forget the terror...will you help us understand? When all of us meet will you explain? Is it faith?..."
We were eating at a makes.h.i.+ft table under Peter's olives; it was well after sunset and we felt the quiet of the extensive fields that make Peter's home a retreat.
Matthew, picking at his supper, nervous, kept watching my hands-I knew he was studying the scars.
"I hope you never return to Jerusalem," he exclaimed.
Christ's Journal Part 15
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Christ's Journal Part 15 summary
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