Journal of a Witness to the Crucifixion
My name is Atticus. I grew up in a desert village, far away from Jerusalem. I had a brother, but he was killed in a sandstorm. I also had tow sisters, but they married and left home a long time ago. When I was 13 years old, my parents sent me to Jerusalem to work for a man living there. That was the last time I saw any of my family.
My new master had many servants, and he didn't pay all of them. That is a polite way of saying he kept slaves. I worked for him for money, not because I had too, but because I had to earn money for my family.
But life doesn't stop if you are content. My master, parents, and one sister died. My master and parents died of old age, but my sister died when the Roman's burned my old village, which she had moved back to after I had left.
A friend of my old master approached me one day in the market. I had been working for a man who was ill, but he was on the brink of death. I would need another position soon. This man offered me a job. I took it.
This new master didn't keep slaves, but he was stern. Obedience was required; punctuality was law. I worked hard, but it was rewarding work. I was earning money for myself. I also had a day off! A day of freedom!
Life continued for three long years. I heard rumors, witnessed crucifixions, and served my master.
My life, during those years, was mostly normal until about noon today. Some strange men followed me to my master's house. They had the look of people hardened by travel and hardships. One had the look of a fisherman; the other couldn't have been much older than my master's eldest son. They seemed to have been waiting for me.
They followed me home and said to me, "Where is your master?" I told them, "In the upper room." "We were told to tell him something. Tell him that he needs to hear it."
I immediately ran for the ladder and climbed to the upper room. I said to my master, "There are men beneath us who say they were told to deliver a message. They demand you hear it."
My master went down and said to the men, "What is your message? I have not expected any messages today nor did I expect that any messengers would be working today." He said this slightly accusingly, and I agreed. Work on PASSOVER!
They said, "The Teacher says to you: where is a room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"
Master replied, "My home is yours. I have a room above this part of the house. Your teacher and his disciples may certainly use it. What do you require? My servant will get it for you. Atticus!"
I walked quickly into the room and knelt before my master. The men told me, "Go to the market and buy what is needed for Passover. Bring what is needed back with the lamb alive so the sacrifice can be made. Here is the money for your purchases." This in itself unusual because servants are not usually trusted with money.
I rose immediately and took the money. Savoring the feel of the cool metal, I walked to market and made the purchases. I was wondering who the teacher of the men could be. My master had told me on many occasions that the temple officials were corrupted. Maybe the man was a warrior king, who would restore to land to Israel. Maybe he was a holy prophet, foreseeing the great battle of good and evil when the Israelites would fight for the good and God. Maybe he was a Roman, sent to find out the people who were planning a riot!
My ideas were plenty, but my decisions were few. I was about to return to my master's home when a loud noise rose up.
"Hosanna, Hosanna, here is the Son of God!" rang through the marketplace.
The man the crowds were hailing was a rough-looking man. He had the same look as the two men who had followed me! Was he a soldier?
Then the man began to speak. He spoke of confusing things, of afterlifes and love. It sounded like riddles and sorcery. I became bored with the things I didn't understand and went home.
The men returned shortly after I returned and took the lamb for sacrifice. They were conversing in low tones.
"I am the way…the light? He has always…If the Sanhedrin heard him…But how would they know he…Who would claim to be…" My master saw me then and sent me to the upper room to clean.
Thoughts again swirled through my head. The Sanhedrin, the ruling priests, are closely allied with Pontius Pilate. They are as determined as he to remove rebellion. Was the teacher a rebel? I had to know.
I assisted the men to prepare the room. When we heard men entering, the men went down to greet the one they called "teacher." I hid under the spare pillows in the corner and began to listen.
The men came in. I could see the face of the man at the head of the table. I was so surprised that I almost cried out. It was the man who had been preaching in the marketplace.
Then my master said, "Jesus the Nazorean, I hope that your journey to Jerusalem has been easy. Feel free to do as you wish here."
The man, Jesus, said, "I thank you for your hospitality. It is much appreciated."
The men who I supposed to be the disciples seated themselves around him. After the right of Passover, the man called Jesus began to teach the disciples. After a moment, he rose and removed his outer garments. Then he began to wash his disciple's feet. They looked troubled. There was a good reason for that. Servants, not teachers, were supposed to wash the feet. What would make this rabbi, a man of great fame, wash feet?
One of the men, who had been identified as Peter, was speaking.
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
The man replied with another great riddle statement.
"What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later."
Peter replied, "You will never wash my feet!"
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance in me," replied Jesus. He seemed rather amused. Perhaps Peter was often stubborn. But why would he be amused if one of his disciples was willing to relieve him of his strange task.
Peter replied, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well!"
This man seemed overly impulsive and willing to do the radical's bidding!
Jesus said, "…and he is clean all over, so you are clean, but not all."
Oh, his riddles! He has just cleaned all of his disciples' feet! Himself! Maybe…but how could he know I was there? And I am but a lowly servant, whose life is worth less than the cost of bread.
A drip of water and oil had escaped the bowl and jug and dripped in front of the stack of pillows. I slipped my feet through a break in the pillow and dipped my feet into the spill. Then I froze.
The man, who had come back to wipe up the spill, was wiping my feet? What if his disciples saw? They would drag me out and my master would beat me for disobedience!
But the disciples were busy muttering among themselves. They were unsettled and looking very confused.
The man returned to the table and I returned my feet, now clean, to the pillow stack.
"Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
What! This kind man betrayed? This man who washed servant's feet? This man who was amused by his disciple's stubbornness? Betrayed?
By one of the people in this very room.
If the disciples were confused before, they were befuddled now. I didn't understand either and pushed forward to watch what they would do.
One of the disciples sitting next to Jesus, one of the men who had followed me, was whispering to Jesus. Jesus said something back then broke some bread and gave it to the one called Judas. He took the piece of bread and ate it. Then Jesus said, "What you are going to do, do quickly."
What ever did he mean by that? This man carried a heavy money bag, would he be buying something necessary that I forgot and Jesus wanted him to hurry? Was he about to go give money to the poor? Or had he noticed me and was going to get my master. This worry clouded my mind, and I forgot to listen to the conversations in the room. All I could think was that my master was going to find me, and I would be in really big trouble.
Suddenly a voice penetrated my clouds of despair.
"My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, "Where I go you cannot come," so now I say it to you."
We cannot come? But of where does he speak? Some lofty peak far above Jerusalem? Some far off land? Prison? But why does he say, "You will look for me"? This man is a riddle that cannot be solved!
Jesus spoke again, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other."
Love one another? EVERYBODY? EVEN THE ROMANS? This is how you will know you are my disciples? Who is the man, who calls plain men disciples? Of what is he speaking? This man is a riddle!
The men began to stand. The meal was finished. They followed Jesus down the stairs. I rose, pondering what I had heard.
There was a window in the room. I looked out. Jesus and the men were walking up toward the Mount of Olives. Did they sleep up there? Interesting place to camp out. I have heard the garden of the gethsemane is very beautiful.
The next morning I awoke, with a sweet taste in my mouth. Today was the day that I could do whatever I wished. What to do?
I headed down to the market, to get the morning gossip. The market was alive and flourishing. John the scroll seller, my special friend, beckoned to me.
"They say a man was arrested on the Mount of Olives last night and that the chief priests have taken him to Pilate. He was the one who overturned the tables in the market and spoke like someone who understood every mystery!"
"Do they know of the place of arrest or the man's name?"
"Only that he was arrested in the Garden of the Gethsemane. And he came quietly."
Something shook in my subconscious, but I ignored it.
"Was the man known to many?" I queried.
John replied, "Any one of the people who have heard him speak in the temple or elsewhere will know. They say he preached kindness, love of enemies, and other such nonsense. A man, a Jew, telling us to forgive the Romans!"
Incredulously I said, "If he preached in favor of the Romans, why do they arrest him? Maybe he just wished for peaceful resolutions."
"That is widely wondered. However, they say that one or two of his disciples were disgruntled about his teachings. Maybe one of them betrayed him."
"A disciple betray his rabbi! Ridicu…." and there I trailed off.
"What? You look like one who has seen something that he didn't understand, but he know understands!"
A disciple betray his master! Last night! The man who taught kindness! He said one of the people in the room would betray him! Could it be him?
I asked hurriedly, "Where are they keeping him?"
"I would assume the Sanhedrin are questioning him now. Why?" replied John, looking puzzled.
"No reason, really. Listen, John, I have to leave. I forgot I was needed at…my brother's house." I lied. "Goodbye!"
As I ran away, I heard John mutter, "I thought his brother had died?"
I ran through the crowded streets and found myself in a large crowd. They were shouting, "Give us Barabas! Give us Barabas!"
"For whom are you shouting?" I asked a nearby stranger.
"For Barabas to be released instead of the Nazorean! Give us Barabas! The Nazorean says he is our king! Give us Barabas! He caused a disturbance in the TEMPLE! Give us BARABAS!" he replied.
"Jesus the Nazorean! The man from Galilee? Who preached kindness!"
"Kindness? Who cares about kindness! Give us Barabas! He will free us of the Romans! Give us Barabas!" he shouted at me. "Kindness matters not in rebellion!"
"Rebellion! Are you crazy! There are extra Roman troops here for Passover! If you start a rebellion, you will be crucified!"
The man no longer could here him over the crowd. He was still shouting "Give us Barabas!" at the top of his lungs.
There was a tree near the crowd, in the crowd actually. The crowd seemed to grow larger each minute. I ran for the tree and climbed it with years of boyhood experience coming back in a rush.
Standing in front of the crowd was Pontius Pilate, the governor of Jerusalem. He was one of the most hated and most feared Romans. He had crucified many people, innocent or not, and would normally not hesitate to do so again. Beside him stood the high priest and the old high priest. Next to the high priests stood Jesus.
Jesus looked like he had been up all night. He had dark circles under his eyes and numerous wounds from rough beatings. He also looked sad as he listened to the crowd yell for his crucifixion. The crucifixion of a man who had done nothing but preach kindness! I was filled with rage for the people around me. Jesus had done nothing to them, but they wanted a revolutionary freed, and Jesus crucified!
One of the high priests said something into Pilate's ear. Pilate listened to him for a minute. Suddenly his face hardened. The high priest who had been speaking to him smiled and spoke to the one on the other side.
Pilate motioned to a guard on his left side who brought two scrolls to him. He signed both of them and handed one back to the guard and the other to the high priests. They seemed to argue with him, and he seemed to be relenting. I couldn't really tell through my anger.
Pilate was now addressing the crowd. He said, "Behold the man! Shall I crucify you king?"
But the crowds were relentless. They kept yelling, "Crucify him! Crucify him! Give us Barabas!"
And so Pilate handed Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified that day.
Jesus was dragged off towards some soldiers with very sharp-looking whips. They grinned cruelly and pulled Jesus off into a hallway. My view of him diminished and soon I could see nothing at all.
I climbed down and ran for the Garden of the Gethsemane. The disciples would know why Jesus was arrested and who had betrayed him. And why he was standing so quietly, making no case for himself.
Why would he not defend himself? He was as innocent as the flies buzzing in my face. He was so kind, so easy to understand except when he talked in that riddle-ish way!
Well, one of the riddles had come true. He had been betrayed, possibly by a disciple! Was he a soothsayer? No, he was simply a rabbi, a Nazorean who taught kindness.
A large group of people were pacing worriedly in front of the gethsemane. They were talking in hushed voices. All of them looked as if they had been up all night; many had been crying.
These poor people! I wondered what had happened for them to be so upset. If they were upset, maybe the disciples were upset… Was I really doing the disciples a favor by bringing them more bad news?
I was about to pass the people up when I heard one of them say, "I let him wash my feet! Like he was a common servant! Why did I let him do that?"
Other snatches of comments came my way, like…
"Why him? Why not someone who actually deserve to die?"
"This can't be true. He will be acquitted! Jesus is greater than those corrupt Priests!"
"Why Jesus, who was good and kind!"
Jesus? Good and kind? Were these crying, scared people Jesus' disciples?
The one who had been condemning himself for letting Jesus wash his feet…he was Peter, the stubborn one! And that one, he had sat in front of the pile of pillows! These were the disciples! I had found them!
But, as I turned to tell them that Jesus had been convicted, my joy drained away like water in the desert sand. These people were upset as it was! The only thing keeping them close to sanity was the fact that they thought Jesus would be acquitted! Who was I to take there one happy thought away?
I remembered, suddenly, when I was a young boy living in the desert. My brother had been killed in a sandstorm. I had looked up to him greatly so my parents thought it would hurt me too much if they told me the truth. I had known my father was lying, and I had been so furious with him that I had almost attacked my own father! I had felt betrayed and hurt by him, because he and my mother had tried to shield me from something I had every right to know.
I finished turning around and said very quietly, "Are you the disciples of Jesus the Nazorean?"
The effect was immediate. They turned to me, faces alight with hope.
"We are," replied the one called Peter. "What is it that you what of us? Where is Jesus?"
He was so eager, so happy, I regretted me decision to tell him instantly. One of the disciples had slipped away from the group, but I didn't pay much attention to that. I just closed my eyes and said, "It is my unhappy duty to inform you that the man Jesus…has been convicted of charges of treason. He is being…" I trailed off. I just couldn't say it. I whispered, "I'm sorry."
The disciples were looking at me like I had three heads. And leprosy. But I saw one thing in all their faces. Belief. They knew I was telling the truth.
One of the women in the back of the group said quietly, "Who are you?"
"I am nothing but a servant who the man showed kindness to. I didn't want to tell you that he was to be crucified, but…you need to know," I said slowly and quietly.
"We must get to Golgotha! We have to save him!" This cry tore through the lips of every one of the disciples. They began to run, and, to my great surprise, I ran with them.
However, Golgotha is on the other side of Jerusalem. It had taken me an hour to find the disciples. We had been running for a couple of minutes when the skies darkened. That, instead of stopping us, made us run faster.
We had to slow down when we reached the heart of Jerusalem. Besides being a very confusing city, it was so crowded that running was impossible. It took us two and a half hours to cross through! It was fortunate the crucifixions last for hours, or I would have been worried we wouldn't make it in time!
After we left Jerusalem, we began to flat out run. It was nearly three hours past noon. We needed to get there soon, or Jesus might die!
Peter was still in the lead, how he had managed to keep up that breakneck pace was a mystery to me. But he had slowed a little now that we had got almost to Golgotha.
We could see Jesus. Oh Lord God, he looked so bad. He was had cuts all over his body, and they were all still bleeding. Blood stained the cross upon which he was nailed. You could barely see the wood beneath. His head was drooping, he was straining to breathe.
The woman who had asked me who I was whispered the thought on all of our minds.
He was…dying. Dying? This man called the Son of God? Dying?
Several of the women were beside the cross. I had stopped about twenty feet in front of it. A man already stood next to the cross, crying out his grief. He was the one who had sat next to Jesus at dinner, and he was the one who had slipped away before I had told them.
How long I stood there I know not. It seemed like an eternity. No one was moving, except for the tears and the sobs.
Time. Maybe it slowed, or maybe it sped up. But, sometime later, I heard a man say, "Three hours? He calls himself the Son of God, and he looks as if he will barely survive three hours?"
Jesus was speaking to the disciple who had slipped away and one of the women beside his cross. Then he croaked, "I thirst." The soldiers gave him some wine, but he refused to drink it.
Then he said, "It is finished," and died.
I think I had known he would die from the moment that I saw Pilate give the order, but that doesn't mean I believed it. I didn't believe it then, until a soldier thrust his sword into Jesus' side. Blood and water spilled out, staining the ground around the cross.
Numbness had held me since I had arrived at Golgotha. Now it deserted me, and left me with my grief. I was puzzled, however. Why was I so sad for a man a barely knew?
Again, I remembered my brother who had died. He was always being kind to me, just little things. Sneaking me food when I had been denied food. Washing out my cuts and bruises and not telling my mother or father how I had got them. Keeping me out of trouble.
Jesus had been just like my brother. Kind. A bit riddle-ish. Someone to trust.
I went up one of the women and asked her, "Are you the one who asked me my name?"
"Yes," replied the woman, as she sobbed quietly.
"May I ask yours?"
"Mary of Magdala," she said quietly.
"Where are you and the disciples staying? Do you have a place?" I queried softly.
"Yes, we are staying in the Garden of the Gethsemane. But, if you have someplace that is more private, we would gladly go there. I don't ever want to go back to that place. Why did he die? What has he done?" she answered, her voice increasing in volume with every word.
"I don't know. He was accused by the High Priests, so it could be anything. He was as innocent as my brother. Oh God, why did you kill them both?" I whispered.
Sometime later, I was barricaded in the same room as the disciples and Jesus had celebrated the Passover in the night before. Sobs were the only sound punctuating the silence, but after a time the disciples began to speak.
What they said explained some of the riddles of the night before. It explained why they were so devastated that Jesus had died. I mean, if someone performs miracles, is it so hard to come down off a cross? The disciples also were blaming Jesus for leading them all the way here and for their suspicions that he could drive off the Romans.
The next day I returned to work with a heavy heart. I served my master and the disciples who were still barricaded in the upper room.
Several days later my master said to me, "Three days? It has really been three days since Jesus of Nazareth died? How did time past so quickly?"
I replied, "I do not know. All I know is that we are out of water and I need to get some more."
I trudged down and filled the jar. On my way back, someone walked up to me and pushed me down. The mystery person said, "Why are you here, desert rat? I thought you and your parents would have holed up in the village and shriveled. Oh well, I can just torture you now."
No! Not these people now of all times! I needed to get back! With the water! To the disciples!
Then I blacked out.
When I awoke I was in a ruin of a room, probably near the well. A man was bandaging my injuries. Those bullies had given me one heck of a beating.
For awhile I fumed inside. What right did they have to treat me like this? Am I common dirt?
But I remembered the pointy whips the soldiers had used to beat Jesus and I was grateful that this man had come along and helped me. Perhaps I shouldn't hate those old bullies. Perhaps I should just ignore them. That whole "love of enemies" thing.
My rescuer asked me some questions, strange questions too. Like, "Do you work for the man who rented the room out to Jesus the Nazorean? Did you hear about his crucifixion?"
I said, "Yes, I was there and I work there, but that man, Jesus, left all of his disciples! Deep in despair! What kind of rabbi would do that?"
He replied, "I know not what kind of rabbi would leave his disciples with out telling them how to find him."
Find him? Wait a minute… "Where I am going, you cannot go?"
"Did you know the man?" I asked.
"In a way. He showed me…something important. Like myself."
Riddles! Riddles will be the end of me! But, wait, who talked in riddles? Jesus! And this man had holes in his hands and his side! Could it be Jesus? Risen from the dead?
"Are you Jesus the Nazorean, the Son of God, risen from the dead?"
He didn't respond. He just began to wash my feet.
I wrote this story for my theology class. Pleasedo not kill me if it is not intirely accurate. I know my grammar is wrong in some places, and I know my spelling sucks. Please do not hold it against me! I really am a good person!
So, did you like? Please review and tell me! I love reviews! I also want to know if I should add more. I like the ending, but (as with everything I read) I want to know more about what happens. I could write more, but I won't if you think it is a good enough story already. Since I am not telepathic (hmm... that would be cool if I was. But it could be annoying too. Like, in a math class, if I heard someone telephatically telling me how they liked my story! hehehe, that would be kind of funny!), you will have to review. So, review!