Whether we realise it or not, we all live on:
The Edge of the Otherworld

Friday 14 April 2017

The crucifixion

It wasn't an ordinary execution. I doubt I'd have been there otherwise. The priests had a bunch of us bussed out from the Temple to make a bit of noise and jeer at the latest would-be Messiah as he got his comeuppance.

This one in particular had really rattled them and they wanted to discourage his followers and put-off any copy-cat prophets. You know how it is.

Anyway, we fought our way through the Passover crowds and got there for the crucifixion. There was quite a turn out. Mostly just the curious but it looked like the guy had made a fair few enemies in his time and they'd all turned up to see him killed.

His friends were less apparent – his mum, a small group of women and then one or two others hanging around on the fringes. It was all pretty sad really. Still, he'd been causing trouble and he was only getting what he deserved - the same as the two bandits with him.

The soldiers finally got round to nailing him up and the strangest thing happened. 'Forgive them, Father!' he said. 'They don't know what they're doing.' In the middle of his misery, he was thinking of them. Then again, maybe it wasn't only the soldiers he was thinking of. As he spoke, I got the funny idea he was looking at me.

I started to feel uneasy.

Of course, it was too late by then and, besides, he'd claimed to be the king. That's the kind of talk that makes life difficult for everyone when the Romans are around. He'd been putting us all in danger. More than that, he'd strung everyone along, giving false hope that God's kingdom was at hand.

We started to shout at him and curse him. Even the bandits had a go. It was harsh but he needed to face reality along with the rest of us. He wasn't the chosen one. Couldn't he see that yet? Surely, if he was, he could have at least saved himself…

Ah, but that had never been the plan, had it?

I guess it was when the sun stopped shining that I really became afraid. Someone said it was going to rain but it didn't feel right. The air was hot and dry, like it had been blown across the desert forever, and the wind whipped this way and that as if it were alive. It wasn't natural. There was a noise, too – on the edge of hearing, high-pitched and vicious, making me shudder even in the heat. I swear, it was as if the darkness was laughing.

It wasn't going to rain. The demons were merely packed so thick that they were almost visible.

Maybe it was one of the bandits who first realised our mistake. He went quiet for a while and then told the other to stop the jibes. Tore into him, in fact.

'Shut up! Don't you have any fear of God? Any respect? We were caught red-handed and we're paying the price but what's this guy ever done wrong? Can't you see who he is?' Then the bandit turned and said, 'Remember me, Jesus, when you come back as king.'

The darkness tried to snatch away the reply. It swirled between them, trying to take away life and breath, screeching in anger, but it was powerless.

The man who claimed to be God lifted his tortured head and looked at the bandit closely. Then he smiled through the pain and said, 'I promise you that today you will be with me in Paradise.'

There was light in that smile and in the eyes of the criminal who received it. The darkness screamed but we had all seen it. There was light there that even death could not defeat.

The execution went on and the darkness thickened. It couldn't win, though. For those that had eyes to see, the light of the world shone upon that hill and another person had already entered his kingdom. Death could only make the light shine more brightly.

I stayed to the end and then went home in shame. I can't forget that day. I won't forget him.

Lord Jesus, remember me as well.

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