This post was mainly Ifeoma’s idea. And as usual, I do not claim any err..’Correctness’ to this. Read, enjoy the story, search out the Truths. Learn the lesson.
Lightening blazed across the sky, white light tearing up the inky blackness of the Night. The air smelled like burnt cordite and wisps of smoke danced upon the sun-starved stony hills. In an escarpment stood a lone sycamore, it’s leaves long gone and it’s branches bare. From one of the branches a man dangled, his neck taut within a hempen noose. A crow perched on the man’s head, its feathers black as a witch’s robes. It’s shrill cry piercing beneath the shrouded sky.
In the city, the streets lay empty, lamps blazing in doorways behind which crouched families in hushed silence. Soldiers in full armour and with red cloaks fluttering in the stiff breeze manned street entrances, gloved hands gripping the shafts of their spears in locks of tight knuckles. The mood was of barely concealed terror and prayer stayed on the lips of every man.
Within the House of Arimathea, a man paced the courtyard, his head bowed in deep thought, an oil lamp burning brightly by his side. His slippers staccatoed on the cobble-stoned yard, yet he took no notice, for his thoughts were dark and full of rue. Through an open window, he could see his wife, with a baby to her breast. The eyes of the little one were wide, pupils dilated to absorb light, yet she did not cry. The silence which engulfed the Holy City was so intense, even babies barely whimpered and the gnats which disturbed the horses could barely buzz. The fountains ran silently and in the ponds, the frogs refused to croak. The world was holding its breath. For what? Few could barely tell.
Joseph, him of Arimathea, kept pacing. Already a rider had been dispatched to the next province with a message for his friends there. Succour was needed, Refuge was sought! He had played a gamble and suddenly it seemed likely to go against him. A jaybird has whispered to him in the early hours of the morning that a sworn group of men had been commissioned by Annas to attack his mansion. He had immediately requested a platoon of soldiers from the governor, and already Roman legionnaires stood guard over his gate. But he didn’t feel safe. Evil pervaded the land and its stench overwhelmed him. Frightened him. He needed a second option.
Jehovah knew, he believed. He might not always have declared it in the open, but he did. But he had to hedge his bets. You didn’t become this rich playing only one side of the game. It He didn’t rise by the time Night was done, then there was nothing left.
The horses thundered through the night, hooves pounding in the stony desert floor. The riders bore down on their horses, jerking on the reins of the mounts, their heels digging into the flanks, trusting only on instinct as there was neither star nor moon to guide them.
Thomas Didymus rode with tears in his eyes.
“Whither thou goest? And how will we know the way?”
His vision blurred and sadness rolled down his cheeks in fat drops of wetness. Just the day before, at about the sixth hour, not twenty-four hours now, his LORD, his Master had cried in his own voice. Cried!
“It is finished!”
He had never heard his Master cry before. Anguish tore through the disciple’s heart. Pain and hurt and betrayal bore down as one. In one instant, his perfect world had crumbled. Oh, how he had believed. How he had trusted. The kingdom! The kingdom! Riches and Glory! But not this! Not this darkness. Not this emptiness. For three years, he had walked with his Master, learning and serving. Using every waking breath to worship and in one stroke, and by the flash of lightening, the world had faded to black and his source of strength was gone. Gathering a few men, he had fled the city as soon as the Sabbath was over. Tearing down the stony roads, bound for Galilee, where a boat waited to ferry them across the River. They had to run. Evil owned supremacy now. It was over here for them. By morrow, they would be hunted all over the country. And if caught, they would be crucified. Scourged and then crucified. Hung on a tree till they died. A cursed death!
Thomas spurred the horse on.
In the temple, the lights blazed brighter than ever. The outer courtyard was half empty, but with the usual assortment of traders and beggars and those loafers who always hung about the temple telling tales by the fire. Tonight however, the banter was quiet and the men sat warming their hands in silence while the women exchanged fearful looks and hid their faces within their habits.
The only voices to be heard in the courtyard were murmurs of the Roman soldiers at the gate and the agitated whispering of the Greeks who sold doves. But even they were hushed by the gloom of the Night.
In the inner courtyard, two men could be seen huddled in a corner talking in hushed whispers. Across the courtyard, hidden behind a balustrade from which sprouted a hedge of thorns and petals, another man stood watching in silence. His name was Malchus, and though the distance was great, his right ear picked up that Caiaphas and Annas spake.
The veil of the Holy of holies was rent in two!
At the moment in which the Great Healer has died, as the ground rumbled and the world turned to Night, the veil of the temple had torn up at the midst. So shocking was the news, Malchus nearly fell over in fear.
A stiff wind blew through the courtyard and chilled Malchus to his bones. JEHOVAH has abandoned us. We have killed His Son and now, the veil has been torn and he is gone.
But he remembered. Three Hannukahs past it was when he had heard the Rabbi speak in the temple.
“Destroy this temple and in three days, I shall raise it up..”
He had died and the temple veil had been rent down its middle, could it be? Would he then rise in three days?
Shaggy hair dropped down into his eyes, stringy and lank with perspiration. The room was stuffy. So many of them here. Too many. Simon, who was also called Peter sat on a cushion on the floor, his head in his hands, a babble of voices like a sea all around him.
Sea. The sea. Sea and fishes. That was his business. Not this. Not this issue of leading men and surviving a Roman manhunt. Already, a few of the disciples had begun to arm themselves. Surprisingly, it was he, brave, strong and vicious who now pleaded with them to relax and to pray. He who owned a gleaming and wicked knife.
How are the mighty fallen
Simon smiled wryly. It had taken an ear to set him to his senses. Thomas and a few of the men had already fled the city bound for Carpaneum. May it be well with them. He wished he could ask them to have faith. But he sought for faith himself and could not find. Despair cloaked his heart.
“Wherever thou goest, I will go.” Those were his words. “I will lay down my life for your sake” Those words were his too.
Yet he had denied Him three times.
“Peter, lead my sheep.”
A simple instruction. But so much weight. So much responsibility. He couldn’t! Couldn’t!
Oh Father, help us. Abba Father!
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
even lift them up, ye everlastung doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle…
The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.”
It Was finished.
The seals of the sepulcher burst open with a flash of lightening and a crack as the sound of the earth splitting. There was a blaze of white light and a force as that of a powerful Presence. The men who stood watch were blown away senseless. So overcome were they by the Presence. The stone was rolled away to a side, and from the tomb, from the centre of which Death held sway, strode out the LORD Almighty, Jeshua. Jesus.
I would not dare to profess any true knowledge of the story I have told you. My name is Christopher and at best I’m a christian like any of you, and at worst, I am a sinner worst than most of you. Nevertheless, the truth of these is evident. When we despair, when we lose hope, when it does seem as though all is lost. When we are troubled and when we are frustrated and when it looks as though there is no help in sight. Behold! The doors open. The gates lift up.
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And yeah, Anastasis is simply Greek for Resurrection. 🙂