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The Movie “Noah” – Sink or Float?

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 11.38.28 AM Hello everyone, it’s been too long a time for me to be gone. I am back and now I am here  to talk about the latest biblical epic movie, Noah. Be prepared to stay a while as I have a lot to say.

First, before we begin, let’s have a disclaimer. This post has nothing to do with the biblical inaccuracies made in the movie. While I was at first scratching my head at the “Watchers” thing, I was willing to accept it if there was some substance emphasizing the theme of the story. Also, the support of theistic evolution in this movie is a discussion all to itself and won’t be brought up in this review. With that said, here’s the review.

Let’s talk about what is good with the movie. The first thing I liked about this movie is the acting. Russell Crowe does very well at portraying the titular character. Honestly, after seeing Gladiator, I think that he was born to play biblical characters. He does what he needs to do for the role and never sucks the focus of the camera unnecessarily.

Emma Watson does a good job playing Shem’s wife, Ela. I don’t think it’s very easy to play the role of the girl who is supposed to be barren, but Emma does good with the role. Again, like Crowe, she shares the screen with the other characters and never takes the focus when it’s not meant for her.

I also enjoyed the special effects in this movie. The Watchers, which are supposed to be giant rock monsters, look and move like giant rock monsters. They don’t move fluidly because of their rocky features. That’s a great idea and props for the CGI department for making the most out of something not in the Bible. Also, the effects with the Flood are awesome. Most of it is CGI, but the movie integrates splash effects with the CGI almost flawlessly. The ark is an interesting look at the boat. I was expecting something more like the one you’d see from Answers in Genesis and I don’t know how well this design would float, but it looks cool.

So this movie has good actors and is rather spectacular to look at, but does the story, direction, and substance in the film hold up as well? Not a chance. In fact aside from the acting and CGI, this movie contends as being part of my worst films of 2014.

The story breaks several principles to the craft, the characters are either laughable or too unlikable, and I can’t say too much for the cinematography.

Just to get cinematography out of the way, when will people learn that shaking the camera is NOT an effective means of creating tension in the movie? I know it’s utter amateur hour when the director gets the cameramen to shake the camera when there’s a dramatic conversation in a scene. For one, the audience cannot focus their eyes on anything, so we can’t pay attention to the conversation. Secondly, if shaking the camera is your way of creating tension between characters, then that means your characters are horribly written.

And horribly written characters are exactly what makes this movie unbearable for me. Let’s go character by character to show how dreadful the whole movie is.

First, let’s address the Watchers. Their backstory is this: When man fell from grace, a legion of angels wanted to go down to earth to help man Prometheus-style. They were told not to intervene in the affairs of men by God, but they came down to earth anyway. As punishment, they were forced to take on the earth and become rock-like monsters. They helped Cain build cities, but man eventually betrayed them and started killing them off. Therefore, they have a fear of men.

First of all, I haven’t seen anywhere in the Bible that would say God would punish you for intervening with men. In fact, God Himself divinely intervenes all of the time, so His actions seem completely arbitrary and cruel by where the story is going. Is the punishment ever explained? No, and the Watchers become completely underwhelming.

Throughout the movie, they serve no other function than an answer to say how Noah built the ark. You never grow attached to any one of them, so you never distinguish between them. Every time I saw them I asked why they never went into their subplot more.

At the end of the first story in this movie (there are two), we finally get back to their subplot, and it is so rushed that it’s laughable. SPOILER: Apparently because they helped Noah, God forgave them. You know, because God only forgives you if you work for it! So when they are killed (I was about to say massacred, but that’s a word the movie only dreams of receiving), they break from being rock monsters to become angels again. This had a theme going for it about fall from grace and forgiveness that could have emphasized what this movie should have been. Unfortunately, Darren Aronofsky fails to see this potentially great subplot theme and makes it unbiblical, ridiculous, and only serves as a plot-mover.

My award for most laughable character goes to Methuselah. I was laughing every time he was onscreen, but probably for the wrong reasons. He’s essentially a mystical sage who serves as healer and seed-provider for Noah. When we are introduced to him, he is alone against an entire army of men. So he does what any biblical hero does… He catches his sword on fire with his bare hands and incinerates the entire army LIKE A BOSS!!!!!!

Then he serves nothing more than help Emma Watson overcome her problem with being barren. He touches where her womb is and she’s cured. Is this explained? No. In fact miracles in this movie are treated as if they come from men rather than God. Once again, we waste an opportunity showing that God can overcome any adversity for men. This subplot once again is made as a way to keep the movie running rather than create meaningful messages or strong characters.

There’s also a running gag associated with Methuselah that’s so ridiculous and serves absolutely nothing to the character or plot, so I won’t talk about it at length.

Another problem is with Noah’s second son Ham and Nila, his girlfriend-ish wife. There’s this problem in the beginning that Ham has no wife unlike Shem, so he’s afraid that if he doesn’t find a wife before the Flood his line will not continue. So there’s something here, right? It sounds reasonable.

What does our loveless supporting character do? He whines and complains like any clichéd character until he runs into the enemy camp. Brilliant thinking…

Then he finds Nila there and decides that she’s not like the others. Does Nila have any character development or serve anything for the others? No, because by the next scene she’s dead. So we as the audience have wasted a solid three minutes of the film for a subplot that goes nowhere.

Then Ham starts hating his father, which I cannot complain about because I feel the same way, and there’s a contrived subplot in the second story of this movie of whether he’ll kill his father for the death of his one scene girlfriend or not. It involves the main antagonist of the movie as well, and we’ll get to him next. Then there’s a scene where Ham has to make a big decision of whether he’ll kill his father or the antagonist. Of course he kills the antagonist. That’s a shocker, right?

So does this mean that the conflict between Ham and Noah is fixed? Nope, because after the Flood Ham up and leaves Noah because he’s still mad at him. Therefore, the conflict is never resolved in this movie, meaning your time was utterly wasted.

Then there are the villains of the story. Apparently there’s some king who plays the main antagonist. What’s the connection and conflict between Noah and the king? The king killed Noah’s father. So unique… Now why did the king kill Noah’s father? For a snake skin. What’s the importance of the snake skin? Nothing, it’s absolutely worthless and has nothing to do with the plot.

That leads me to my next beef with this movie. Some mystical elements in this movie are never explained and have no significance in the story. There’s not much I can say about these elements because there is literally nothing to them.

Back to the villains. They are as weak as they come. The movie commits the story sin of telling us about these characters rather than showing them. That means that you hardly see the villains do anything evil in the movie. Aside from killing Noah’s father, which goes by so fast and is so silly it doesn’t count, the men of the world never do anything worse than killing and eating animals. Apparently, God’s a member of PETA…

Since the villains are weak, that means their punishment is so ridiculous and cruel that it makes Noah and God look villainous. And that is the worst sin this movie makes.

The two characters I hate the most in this movie are God and Noah. Noah basically tells the world that there’s no chance for anyone to live except himself. If I can recall from 2 Peter, Noah as a preacher of righteousness would have tried to save the world by inviting people to be forgiven and come aboard the ark. This theme, which should have been the main theme of this story like anything else in the Bible, is never seen. Like the Watchers and Emma Watson, it is stripped of all significance.

Then in the second story, Noah does something (or is about to do something) so evil that there is no way I can forgive him. He basically thinks that the only reason he was saved was to save the animals. “Man is not meant to live in the new world,” he thinks.

So when he hears that Emma Watson is pregnant, which should have made him ecstatic as it is a miracle performed by God (or, I’m sorry, Methuselah), he goes ballistic and swears he’ll kill the baby when it is born because “God ordains it.” This transforms the main protagonist of the movie into a religious maniac. You can’t decide whether this is right or wrong as you the audience member knows that this is wrong but yet you are expected to still empathize with the main character. This is How to Make a Bad Movie 101 here.

What does God have to say about the matter? Well, nothing really. In a movie where God is there to destroy everything, we get very little about Him. He never says anything even though in the Bible God has a lot to say about the Flood. We don’t get to know His character or give Him any semblance in the making of this movie’s theme. Like so many other characters, God is only there to pad the story out. We’re supposed to believe that Noah’s beliefs are in line with God’s judgments, so if you hate Noah, you have to hate God.

God has no say in the movie other than what Noah says, which, in paraphrase, consists of “Die! Humans are evil! They kill animals!”

I think this is what the movie is trying to say: The first half of the movie is an environmental message. First, the villains are evil because they create industrialized states, eat meat, and overconsume. Our heroes are therefore good because they don’t do any of those things. All they do is listen to God by getting drugged up, taking only what they need, and never pick flowers.

The second half leads to our despicable hero about to abort children out of religious extremism and it seems like God’s totally fine with infanticide. Everyone’s pouty and after each other’s blood. But God and Noah have an all too predictable change of heart and decide that they shouldn’t kill children.

Noah had the set-up to create a great story that mostly stayed true to the biblical text and themes that could easily have translated to universal feelings. It could have been like Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt, which told a great story that mostly stayed true to the text without necessarily needing to proselytize. Instead of this, it blows every opportunity it had by creating ridiculous themes, clichéd dialogue, predictable conflicts and outcomes, and characters that are laughable and/or despicable.

Its departures from the text are the least of its problems. Overall, it is just a shameful movie with all the spectacle but nothing of substance.

The worst I can see coming out of this is if many people look at Noah and God and feel about them like me. It would be worse because I know the true text and what really happens, but what about people whose only contact with the story of Noah is this? Would they feel compelled to read the Bible to know more? I highly doubt it.

If you want a good Bible movie that tells a strong story, creates great and memorable characters, and stays true to the themes of the text, watch The Ten Commandments or The Prince of Egypt on Netflix. They’re far better than this lacking movie.

Noah definitely sinks.

~Jacob

Helloooooo all!  Welcome back to 53 Proofs!  I’m sorry I haven’t been posting for about a year now; I’ve been in a terrible biking accident (more on this later) and other stuff in life slapped me in the face.  Now that I’m back, however, let’s hit the books again and take a look at what Marshall Brain has to say (Jacob, you’re welcome, I’m back!).

Here’s the page: http://godisimaginary.com/i4.htm

This proof seems short enough.  Mr. Brain starts by pointing out that people who are cured of diseases sometimes are prayed for by a person or a group of persons, and through that prayer, that person was miraculously healed by God.  He then states that scientists can make an educated guess that those people in need were saved by science, that there was a natural cause and a rational reason why this person or persons improved.

Then he tags a link, which directs you to his first proof, which I have already refuted.  Moving on.

Next, he references a story about a microscopic agent that cures diseases, known as penicillin.  He sends a link to this story, which is just as consequential as his summary version he writes.  He then observes that these scientists believe that this phenomena where the penicillin kills deadly pathogens was simply a scientific and logical occurrence, free of any supernatural intervention.  He then mentions that prayer is a superstition, and again sends a link to his first proof.  Again, I already refuted that.  Moving on.

Finally, he throws us a circular reasoning fallacy – a logical mistake where someone says A is true, so B is true, and B is true because A is true.  The funny thing about this particular argument, however, is that Mr. Brain doesn’t even give us a B!  He basically says A is true because A is true.  That simply doesn’t follow.

That’s the end of his proof.  It’s pretty short, and the rest of the logical side to my response to is is short as well.  Scientific endeavors and helps will happen because man wills it, and anything that can be scientifically explained, are probably based on scientifically based answers.

But what happens when you witness or are part of a miracle?

That’s different.

You can’t even attempt to rationalize that away.

My proof seems short, but ohhhhhhh, are you in for a surprise.  Let me tell you a story about what happened to me on March 5th of this year.

My gf, Rachel, goes to a certain school that is relatively close to where I live, and I wanted to surprise her there by riding my bike to that place and saying hi.  I got within a stone’s throw distance from where I wanted to meet her, and BAM!  I had been knocked unconscious, on the side of the road.

Here’s what happened.  Sam’s Club was about 30 minutes away from my house and right across the street from where her school was.  I had ridden all the way on my bike, because I wasn’t driving at the time, and had arrived at my church, within about a mile of Sam’s Club.  I had walked my bike across a cornfield, or something of the like, and arrived at the end, on the other side of the barbed wire, which i had gotten over safely, at one side of I-64 in Louisville, KY.

Sam’s Club was on the other side, so I chose to CROSS IT.

Bad idea.

I ride my bike across the first three lanes, timing when I would ride across, and stop at the median.  Safe!…for a few seconds…

Then I try to cross the remaining three lanes, all that stand between me, and my wonderful princess.  I cross the first!  The second!  The th…

No, I see a brown pickup truck headed my way on my right, going at a dangerous 35 mph.  Right at that second, I try to bike the rest of the way across, but my legs are giving way!  They had ridden for a good 30 minutes, about 15 miles, and they fail to urge me on fast enough to the other side…

I know this truck is going to hit me.  I know it’s gonna hurt.  I know it’s gonna be bad.  I get a slight feeling that this is the end, but I still had faith that I wasn’t going to die.

The impact was…painless…I was in shock, because my world was starting to fade before my eyes.  I realized just how powerful cars can be on the acceleration lane, coming off a ramp I didn’t see.  I didn’t feel anything, but I could still feel a great impact, sending me flying towards…

I was out.  Maybe 30 seconds later I came to, on the other side of the road, in the grass.  Thank God I’m still alive!  Immediately I hear voices behind me.  Apparently a nurse had just come from church and was near the scene when it happened.  My voice was still intact, and I was still alive and well, as far as I could tell, except my leg, or maybe legs, at the time wouldn’t move – I was trying to stand up, to move, to turn around so I could face the people who were talking to me.  I could feel a noticeable compression in my abdomen area, and it was hard to breathe normally.  My voice being intact, the nurse and other people trying to help asked me for my number, for my mom’s number, which they received and gave my mom a call.  They then loaded me into an ambulance.

This ambulance, by the way, was a silent ambulance.  Usually you could hear the sirens, and I was listening for them, aware enough of what was happening, but I heard no sirens!  I thought that was interesting. o.0

A few pass-outs later, I arrive at University Hospital at Downtown Louisville, where they pushed me on a stretcher bed into the ER, into the infamous…Room 9!  Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnn…

Yeah, I was in Room 9.  I don’t know what happened from there because I either was put out with anesthetics, or I went unconscious again.  Next thing I know, I’m having these very strange series of hallucinations.  Several of them had to do with being in a hospital bed, while the rest of them had to to with either camping out in the ice, or hanging from the wall in McDonald’s or from the wall of a wooden outside prison, right next to a lake filled with surprisingly cuddly sea creatures – not my idea of fun.  Most of them were perilous, like I was in some sort of danger.  So apparently I was halfway awake through some of those dreams.

Here’s all that happened to my body.  I had broken my right femur, and the doctors put that leg in traction while they tended to a more life-threatening issue – my right lung had been punctured by one of my ribs, several of which had broken from the impact, leaving my lung bleeding internally.  My left lung was leaking air, and i had broken several of the tips of my backbone (T9 – T12) – a dire threat to my spinal cord.  Also, my right inner pelvis was broken and I was simply a bloody mess.

Room 9.  People usually die in there.

I survived a day.  Two days.  A week.  Two weeks.

Finally, about two weeks later, I awake in a small ICU room, and I look around to see my mom sitting there, talking to me.  I try to talk back, and can hear my answer, but mostly all that came out was air.  I couldn’t speak correctly.

To care for my lungs and to force air in and out manually to keep me alive, the doctors had shoved a tracheotomy (the doctors called it a tracheostomy) into my neck, so I could breathe and live through the surgeries and the healing process.  The problem was the trach (as they nicknamed it) was obstructing my vocal cords, so they couldn’t vibrate and I couldn’t talk.  I had to use a whiteboard to write (shakily and sloppily) what I wanted to say.  I continued to improve, eventually I got my voice back, started to walk again with a titanium rod in my leg, first with a walker (my left leg was just fine) and a wheelchair, then finally by myself.  Because my leg had been left alone for so long while tending to my lungs first, it had grown ocification, or bone growths, around the site of my break.  This overgrowth had spread into my quadriceps, and it made it quite impossible to bend my leg after 50 degrees or so.  Not to mention it hurt.

After I was allowed to leave, a month and four days later, I continued to improve, and I had to wear a back brace if I elevated my back more than 30 degrees because my back was still healing from the fractures.  I started physical therapy to get my leg back to normal, strengthening the muscles and getting flexion back in my leg.  A few months later, I got my back brace off, and my leg had been improving – swelling was significantly lower, my degrees were getting larger, and my muscles were getting stronger.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

Now, I maintain about 90 degrees in my right leg and am just about back to my normal self.  God saved my life, and I have the scars to prove it.  I also have a website dedicated to my name – an online blog called Caring Bridge used to update people on my progress during my stay in the ICU in University Hospital, and about 8,259 people have visited it so far.  You can visit it yourself.  Just go to www.caringbridge.org, make an account, and search for Tyler Borntraeger.  Take a look at my progress through the ICU and look at the wonder that God has performed through me.

I am now a testimony of God’s eternal, supernatural, and unmatched power.

And God is imaginary.  Really?

I think my story, hands down, can disprove the entirety of Marshall Brain’s entire site, not just this particular proof.  I hope this has at least turned this proof upside down and proved to you that, because of my experience, GOD IS NOT IMAGINARY!

~Tyler

Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washingto...

Homosexuality has become more accepted and promoted today, even among Christians. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I cannot speak for the past, I cannot remember a time in my life where homosexuality has become such a large and controversial topic. Beforehand, from my knowledge, it was not a question of whether or not homosexuals should be accepted in the eyes of the state. Now, multiple states, including New York, California, and most of New England are not only allowing, but promoting, gay and lesbian marriages. The same goes for nations all over the world, mainly in Europe. Not to mention the vocal, even if small, following of same-sex marriage activists, even amongst Christians. Recently, the United States Supreme Court has declared the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional because it is a violation of equal rights of all citizens.

I have been wanting to address this topic for some time, and now I believe it is proper to speak out on this issue. I see the practice of homosexuality as a true sin against the Law of God. This is evident in the Book of Leviticus as God speaks on what is an unlawful sexual relation. Among many other things, homosexuality is part of the list of unlawful relations:

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22 ESV)

Now before I go any further, I want to make a few things clear. First, this is not an address to homosexuals. This is an address to those who accept and promote homosexuality itself, specifically to Christians. Neither do I wish to condemn or to judge gays or lesbians in my address, that is not my place. This is not homophobia, therefore, as I am not writing like those who take their righteous stance and make themselves Pharisees. I will continue writing on this issue, addressing different people groups related to this topic. Today, I address accepters through an intellectual stance.

It is more than evident that the Law detests homosexuality. The punishment for it, along with all detestable sexual acts, is to be cut off from the holy people, which includes death. Christian accepters see this, but take mental actions to explain this sin away, as if God has changed His opinion on homosexual relations. So I will not stop with explaining the biblical stance on homosexuality, but I will refute the arguments trying to remove this part of the Law.

1. God may have had this opinion back in the Old Testament, but He switched in the New Testament.

This, then, removes an entire aspect of God’s holiness, and therefore His inherent nature. God can do all things but one. He cannot change His nature.

“For I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6)

To say that God changed His opinion means that He changed His own holiness. At one point holiness included the refusal of homosexual relations, now holiness scratches that law. This is not God. God’s Law, as it is perfectly holy, cannot change since God is perfectly holy and righteous in everything He does. Whatever god these Christians worship, one who changes his law whenever society’s relative moral law changes, it is not the true God.

2. God is forgiving of all sin.

Praise God that He is! But this does not change a single aspect about His Law if someone does not repent of his or her sin. If we do not accept Christ’s sacrifice and repent of every sin we have committed, we are still in sin, therefore still under Law, therefore still deserving of death.

3. Jesus changed everything.

While it is true, according to Romans, that we are no longer under the law –

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

– this only refers to those who have died to sin by repentance. Jesus did change everything, true, but just like the argument that “God is forgiving,” there is no change under the Law if there is no one asking for forgiveness. Jesus makes this clear when he addresses the issue on whether he came to change the Law.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

4. Jesus does not condemn.

This one is false. In Revelation, the One seated on the throne of Heaven, probably Jesus, speaks to John about those who will live and those who die the second death.

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (21:8)

When Jesus talks about the sexually immoral, he means those related with the violations of sexual moral law. Once Jesus returns as a conquering king, everyone is judged based on what they have done. We cannot change this imminent fact about Christ when we feel that something about the law is uncomfortable.

Now if I were to go through every argument that attempts to subvert God’s Word, I would fill up this entire page and still have words I could say. However, this is the end of the argument. God stated that the practice of homosexuality is a sin (note: the affinity to homosexuality is not a sin, just like any temptation). As God does not change, this passage is not removed from our requirement to fulfill the law. Jesus, though he allows us to be forgiven, did not change a single portion of the law and will return to judge.

It is controversial and uncomfortable to have to speak against homosexuality. Activists and promoters do their utmost to shut down all attempts. They show us as stupid bigots on media, curse us, call us names, and cut us off from the public to the best of their ability. However, it is far worse to be called the least in heaven by God permanently than to be ridiculed by people temporarily. We must stand up for God’s Law as well as His love and grace.

Recall, I do not personally address homosexuals in this post nor do I condemn them to hell or any other punishment. I explained what God’s Word truly says and refuted arguments attempting to remove it. These next few posts will address different people, homosexuals last. The next post I will address the other extreme in this topic, that which is true “homophobia.”

~Jacob

Jacob is AFK

Hello everyone,

I am leaving for three weeks, so I cannot leave any posts during that time. However, when I return, I have big plans for everyone. See you then!

~Jacob

WWGHA: Chapter 2

It has been a while since we got back with Marshall Brain, author of God is Imaginary and Why Won’t God Heal Amputees. Last time, he asked us why doesn’t God heal amputees. I found it a simple-minded question and pointed out that God really does answer this prayer. God will heal that amputee with faith in a new body. A commenter also noted that Brain fails to attribute any healing to God if it happens. This is precisely what we are getting onto next.

Before we go further, I want to point something out about last time. When I say that God heals amputees, I mean that God answers all prayer. Therefore, let’s go through several verses Marshall Brain pulls out  from the Bible.

If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

God really does answer your prayer. That is, unless you have a selfish prayer labeled in James 4:3.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

“But Jacob,” Marshall would say, “amputees just want to have their arm back. What about those people in Boston whose legs were removed due to so much shrapnel? Their prayer can’t be selfish.”

First of all, the example is logically invalid as an appeal to pity (which Brain commits whole sections to in his e-book). Second of all, those prayers could very well be selfish. We don’t know what is actually desirable, so God will show us what to do when he redirects the answer, which He always does. Job in his book wanted to die with all his sufferings and wanted God to do just that, but God didn’t kill him just because that’s what he desired. No! Instead, God rebuked his simple-minded prayer and argument — “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” — and answers with doubling Job’s fortune and shows us that He was sending Job through refinement, as Peter would say in 1 Peter 1:7.

So how can this relate to someone like a Boston massacre victim? Well, what if a Christian amputee has time now to minister to a fellow victim and it changes his or her life? For someone who is already going to live forever and not only have their arm back but a whole body to go with it, is it not more desirable to reach out and minister than never have such an opportunity? A painful and absolutely tragic opportunity, yes, but one that has its reward.

So now we get on with the question of why do we have things such as health insurance if God is supposed to heal us just like the Bible says? Marshall Brain has this to say –

“Simply think it through. If what Jesus says about prayer in the Bible is true, and if all the stories about medical miracles in inspirational literature are true, and if the cure of Jeanna Giese is true, and if your belief in God and the power of prayer is true, and if God has a plan for you, then why do you ever need to visit a doctor or go to the hospital? Why don’t you simply pray for a cure whenever you get sick? In fact, why not pray preemptively every day — ‘Dear God, I have faith that you will protect me from all illnesses today, Amen’ — and go through your life completely healthy?”

The commenter I mentioned above, Daniel Wilson, I believe hits the nail on the head. He said this after my first post.

“If God healed amputees the way he wanted, he would respond ‘Obviously the human body is capable of reginerating limbs.’ … He chooses to not see miracles and when he witnesses miracles, he attributes it to science.”

This is exactly the point I wish to make. If God created everything, then He created health insurance or at least the means for people to make it. Everything good that happens is thanks to God. None of it is accomplished solely by human power. If God never structured our world to include health insurance, many would not have the money to pay for expenses such as medical care.

I love this example and I’ll use it again. Consider a man stranded at sea for days. He calls out to God to rescue Him before he drowns. A boat comes along and spots him. It throws out a life preserver and the captain calls for the man to hold onto it so they may pull him in.

“No, no,” the man responds, “God will rescue me, I prayed to Him.” After failure to reason with him, the captain moves the ship away.

The man cries out again when he realized he was sinking. Then, a helicopter flies over and the pilot tells him to grab onto a rope he threw down. The man gives the same response and the helicopter flies away.

The man, as he is about to drown, cries out one last time. A rowboat comes through and the man holds out his hand saying that it was his only hope. The man gave the same response and then drowned.

In Heaven, the man asked God why he just allowed Him to drown and didn’t save him. God answered, “I sent you a ship, a helicopter, and a rowboat, what did you want to be saved by?”

So I ask this to both you readers and Mr. Brain, is God only allowed to perform miracles the way you want Him? Is He only the God who heals people by saying so to their faces and not the God who sends people a good insurance policy? God can control all things, but only those things that look cool.

It is understandable that we focus on the great miracles God performs and not the small ones. After all, would we be inspired by a sermon on God’s omnipotence when the pastor says God can do the dishes or vacuum the floor? However, we cannot overlook the fact that God made everything and made it so that the normal things of life become our miracle.

So next time you are in the hospital and you ask God to provide the means to heal you, expect a check from your insurance provider.

Sunday

8:00 A.M.

Mary awoke. Her tears from last night still soaked her bed. She sat up and put her knees to her chest. Not a day went by without the constant reminder that her son had been condemned to death.

“The flesh of my flesh,” she sighed. “Destroyed…”  She somberly wet tears again. If there was nothing that Mary expected from her son, she did not expect her son’s death. Now there would be nothing that could redeem the life she once held in her arms long ago.

She remembered that today was the first day of the week after the Sabbath. Today she could at least see her son’s tomb and refresh the myrrh.

A knock on the door startled her. Dressing herself as best she could, she came up to her door and opened it. Mary Magdalene was outside. Alongside her were Joanna and a few others.

“Mary, you scared the life from me,” Mary breathed. “I thought you were one of the –“

“I understand,” Mary Magdalene interrupted. “We were going to bring spices to the tomb, and we felt it necessary to bring you along.”

The mother of Jesus nodded and walked inside to take along the myrrh she had. As she pulled it out, she blew on the dust that had collected on its box. Memories of the Magi’s visit refilled her mind. At that time she was awfully confused about why they would bring something such as myrrh. Now it was obvious.

‘And they worshipped him for being the king and Messiah,’ Mary remembered. ‘But that couldn’t have been true.’

She dressed herself fully. Taking the box, she closed the door behind her and followed the group of women to the tomb of Jesus.

8:05 A.M.

Alexander yawned deeply. They had spent the night guarding the tomb of this Jesus. Soon their post would be relieved and they may just be able to enjoy precious moments of actual sleep.

“Don’t pass out on me before our guard duty is over,” the Praetorian Guard next to him laughed. Alexander shook his head to wake himself. It would be fruitless to need to protect this tomb. No man would dare try to open this tomb.

‘Pontius’ orders, I guess…” Alexander thought. His mind slipped into the dead man’s tomb behind him. Suddenly he wondered about this man. He knew that he once was a famous rabbi among the Jews.

“Augustus,” Alexander began, “do you know about this man?”

“I know he was a holy man for these barbarians –“

“I know he was holy, but I remember other accounts of him.”

“I remember other soldiers reporting that he healed people without any need for a spell or medicine,” Augustus continued, “All he did was speak. I think some centurions went to him to cure some people in their family.”

“You… you don’t believe he could have been a demigod, could you?” Alexander asked.

Augustus looked back at the closed tomb behind him. “I never thought of it, but he could have been a son of Mercury.”

“Perhaps he’s in Olympus, like Hercules. They say he was a wise man and a great healer. Minerva and his father may certainly have rewarded him lavishly.” They conversed over the issue more.

Suddenly the ground shook underneath him. A violent earthquake rocked the earth around them. It reminded them of what happened three days ago when this man died. As they stumbled, a bright light soared down from the heavens. The radiance scared them. Three lights were coming in!

Augustus pointed up and shouted, “Minerva and Hermes have brought Jupiter to take Jesus to Olympus!” Normally, Praetorian Guards would not run, but the fear of their gods caused them to run. They hid behind bushes and peered out to see what would happen.

They could clearly see to males, but the last they could not see. They saw as the two men pushed the rock away with ease and the last radiant being went inside.

“Minerva must be retrieving the body,” Alexander whispered. Soon, a bright light that outshone the sun came from the cave, blinding the two guards. As they were waiting to regain their sight, they heard a voice.

“Well done my servants, we have done well,” the voice said. Suddenly, the guards saw as the two men shot into the sky. They looked down and before their eyes was Jesus’ body, but it was alive with its soul inside. Jesus took a deep breath of air and walked forward. Jesus realized that his angels came to remove the stone, but the sight bewildered the two guards.

“We must tell the temple leaders,” Augustus advised his fellow guard. Making sure Jesus did not see them, they slipped away.

8:15 A.M.

Mary Magdalene ran as quickly as possible to Jesus’ tomb. She worried that Jesus’ tomb had been affected by the earthquake and possibly caved in. Seeing the tomb ahead, she prayed earnestly that it was safe. When she came in front, she stopped amazed. The rock in front of the tomb had been rolled away. It couldn’t have been the earthquake because the stone was standing up near the entrance. She went inside. What she saw astonished her.

“What is wrong?” Joanna asked outside.

“Jesus is gone! They’ve taken him away!” She yelled from inside. Mary ran outside crying. Who would take away the body? Without explaining what she would do, she sprinted to the city where the disciples would be. They must know what happened.

8:45 A.M.

The earthquake caused minimal damage to the disciple’s place. They were thankful that their home was not harmed too badly or else they may have had to leave. Their fear now was that the Romans would come for them next. While they wished for some way to escape, they knew that there was none. Their only hope was prayer.

Matthew was double-checking his gospel to make sure no errors were in it. Suddenly, the door knocked. Startled, Matthew backed away, dropping his papers across the floor. The other disciples were trying to find hiding places. They began to realize that it wasn’t a soldier’s hand beating against the door, but a woman’s.

“Peter! John!” the woman outside cried. “Jesus’ body is gone! The soldiers have taken his body!” Peter and John realized that it was Mary Magdalene’s voice outside and ran to the door. Outside, Mary continued to sob.

“What happened?” Peter asked confusedly. Mary looked up at the disciple with tears running down her face.

“Jesus’ body is gone from the tomb.” Peter and John jumped. Had they truly taken the body? John immediately began to run as quickly as he could. Peter first brought Mary inside and explained that he would go and see what happened to Jesus’ body.

John sprinted as quick as he could. He wasn’t breathless at any point. The very idea of his former rabbi being gone scared him. Thoughts ran through his head. Perhaps the Pharisees and Sadducees were not done. Perhaps they would burn rabbi’s body into ash. If that were to happen, John believed that there would surely be no way Jesus could be resurrected.

“I must stop this at all costs. I will protect my lord even when his soul is gone from here.”

9:00 A.M.

The Sanhedrin began to cry out in debate again. Despite their apparent victory over Jesus, they feared his disciples. They may proclaim that Jesus had risen.

“We should kill the disciples while the Jews are still passionate against them!” Some of the Pharisees argued. The others agreed and moved to decide the time when they should accomplish this.

Caiaphas was pleased. Finally after years of debating, the Sadducees and Pharisees could start finding common ground and compromises. If this continued, the Judaic religion would be safe for as long as Rome would exist. Soon he would find out that the common grounds were false and the peace would be broken.

The doors burst open and Alexander and Augustus came through breathless. The decision about the disciples immediately ended. Caiaphas was unpleased. These two had been posted at Jesus’ tomb. What were they doing here?

“What makes you believe that you can come in when your guard duty it incomplete?” Caiaphas questioned.

Augustus looked up. “We were guarding the tomb and discussing when three bright lights came straight for us. We ran away as they came to the ground. Two of them rolled away the stone and the third went inside. We don’t know what happened next, but when we looked again the two that rolled away the stone with their bare hands went back into the sky and Jesus walked away resurrected!” When he finished, the Sanhedrin discussed among themselves. Some swore that they must have been joking. Others pointed out that the guards would not leave their post unless there was some important reason.

Caiaphas was not going to stand around and watch the leaders argue among themselves again. He stood up from his seat and pulled together a large sum of money and tossed it to them.

“Tell the people that Jesus’ disciples came in the night and stole Jesus’ body while you slept. Don’t worry about Pilate. If the report gets to him, we’ll make sure that you will be safe.”

Satisfied with such a generous bribe, the two guards walked out the door. Caiaphas sighed. It was unbelievable. Jesus had resurrected. Yelling out, Caiaphas tore his robe and threw away his ornamented staff.

Storming out the door, Caiaphas cursed, “I hate that Jesus!” He slammed the door behind him. The Sanhedrin sat still. They were too bewildered to speak anymore.

9:15 A.M.

Just as Mary promised, John saw the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. Fear griped John’s heart. For a second, he wanted to simply run away from it. Something drove John forward, though. Slowly he went inside Jesus’ tomb. At that time, the sun was shining better into the cavern.

John gasped. The linen cloth that Jesus was wrapped in stayed in its place. The cloth that wrapped his head was undisturbed. Pressing his hands down on the linen, he felt the spices still resting inside. Everything had been perfect as he left it. Everything except Jesus’ body, that is.

As John wondered, Peter ran through the entrance. John twisted around breathless.

“Jesus’ body is gone, but the cloth is perfectly in its place,” John breathlessly explained. Pointing to the cloth, which lay perfectly in its place, he continued, “The people could not have taken Jesus’ body.”

“Then what happened to Jesus?” Peter asked.

John began to come up with joyful tears. “He’s done it, Peter. Jesus rose from the grave.”

9:20 A.M.

Mary Magdalene continued to cry. Peter and John had left without explaining anything. Surely the Romans stole Jesus’ body.

As she cried, two lights came out of the sky. Suddenly, they burst into the cavern. Mary jumped immediately. A bright light shone from inside and went inside. To her astonishment, two angels appeared in front of her.

“Peace, Mary,” the one sitting at the head of where Jesus had been laid. “Why do you cry? Why do you search here? Don’t you realize that Jesus the Nazarene is not here? He has risen!”

Mary stumbled back, not sure what to think. Was she hallucinating? How could Jesus have risen from the dead? She went outside and continued to mourn. A man standing near the gardens looked up at Mary. It must have been the gardener, she believed.

“Why do you cry, woman?” The man asked calmly.

Without answering the man’s question, Mary asked in return, “Sir, if you have taken Jesus’ body away, please tell me where he is.”

“Mary, do you not recognize me?” Jesus asked. Suddenly Mary realized who it was.

“Rabbi!” She called out and dropped down next to Jesus’ feet. It was truly a miracle.

Jesus knelt to Mary. Holding her head, he began to explain, “Do not hold onto me yet. I have not yet ascended to my Father in heaven. Go instead to the others and tell them that I am risen.”

Mary nodded and quickly ran back to the disciple’s house. She was far more then excited.

Jesus looked down the road. Two men were walking solemnly toward Jerusalem. Jesus knew they were heading toward Emmaus soon after they visited the disciples.

When Mary went to the disciples and explained to them the vision and the visitation, no one could believe it. Peter went to find Jesus at his tomb. When he came there, Jesus was gone.

1:00 P.M.

Pontius sat down looking at the two guards. He scowled down upon them. He had recently received their report that the disciples of Jesus stole his body while they slept.

“How dare you two have slept during your post? I gave you direct orders to guard Jesus’ tomb and this is how you obey me? By sleeping?” The two soldiers tensed and cowered down.

Pontius stepped down from his judge seat taking a staff in his hand. With it, he slammed it into the soldiers’ heads. He swore that they would be punished.

“First, I will have you stripped of your titles as Praetorian guards,” he began. The two cowered lower to the floor. “Then I will have you two imprisoned for the greater portions of your pathetic lives. These Jews already see us as a force to overcome. They nearly overtook us and I had to condemn an innocent man to stop them. Now they will see us as weaker when they see the Roman military’s elite soldiers having slept while that innocent man’s body was being taken away.” The doors flew open, interrupting him. The Sanhedrin representatives came in.

“What do you want?” Pontius growled. He could no longer trust these men.

“You must stop from condemning these two men,” the representatives began. “They are innocent in every way. Instead, we must stop an uprising from the disciples if they claim that their proclaimed Messiah were to return from the dead.”

“And just how are they innocent? And how would there be such an uprising? What proof do you have of this rebellion?” Pontius asked. The representatives became quiet immediately. “Again, you prove your incompetence in my face. You have no defense. Get out of here.”

“But sir,” one of them replied, “these two must have a defense. We must give the truth.”

‘Truth, that elusive meaning,’ Pontius thought to himself. Jesus explained that he was truth, and now these representatives claim they have the truth. ‘What if truth does not exist?’

“But it does, Pilate,” a voice only heard by Pontius whispered. Pontius turned around, wondering who talked to him. No one was speaking, though. The voice continued, “I am the truth. I have been stolen away, but it is not by the will of my disciples. It is the will of my Father. I am no longer dead but alive.” The voice disappeared.

“Pilate,” a representative spoke up, interrupting Pontius’ thoughts, “what do you say?”

Pontius looked down. It had been Jesus, the man whom he had condemned three days ago. Now he spoke to them. These soldiers were innocent of whatever happened. Now the truth is alive, Pontius knew. It came first into his heart, the one that questioned it the most.

Pontius walked to his chair and sat down. Motioning to the representatives, he commanded them. “Begin.”

5:00 P.M.

Nicodemus slowly plodded along the road to Emmaus. He was a man who did not have a future in front of him. If he went to the Sanhedrin, he would die there. If he went with the disciples, he would surely be killed. There was nothing he could do except walk anywhere he could go to find a new life. His companion, Cleopas, was the only man who stayed by his side.

“I am at least glad that you above all others have joined me, Cleopas,” Nicodemus sighed.

“I can only follow you. Wherever you go, I must join,” Cleopas replied. “Now I am wondering something. Do you understand what Mary Magdalene meant when she explained how she saw Jesus rise from the grave?”

Nicodemus and Cleopas began to talk with each other about that day. As they were walking, another man was entering into their path. His head was covered so the two could not recognize him.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” the man greeted them. They greeted the man back. Soon, they began to discuss about Jesus again. Seemingly curious, Jesus came straight up to them.

“What are you two discussing?” he asked.

Nicodemus and Cleopas looked downcast as the man asked them. Cleopas looked back up and asked, “Are you the only one who does not know the things that have happened in the past few days?”

“What things?” Nicodemus and Cleopas looked at each other. Nicodemus came over to the mysterious man.

““About Jesus of Nazareth,” Nicodemus explained. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

““How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” the man replied. ”Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

“What do you mean?” Nicodemus asked.

“The law required that all sin be cleansed by blood. If the Messiah did not suffer, then there would be no blood to cleanse sin. That is why Isaiah told us, ‘he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’”

They continued talking until they reached Emmaus. Although the man began to walk away, Nicodemus and Cleopas begged that the man would stay. Submitting to their request, the man walked with them into a house, where the owner graciously allowed the outcast Pharisee and the others in.

As they began to eat, the man took the bread. He began to break it. When he did so, he looked up and said, “Thank you Father for what you have done. Thank you that you have glorified the Son so he may live to bring life to men.”

In an instant, Nicodemus and Cleopas recognized the man’s voice. “Messiah, you have risen!” They shouted. When they recognized Jesus, he disappeared. The split bread dropped. Nicodemus stood up immediately.

“I knew something was great when I saw him! Come Cleopas, let us go tell the disciples that we have seen Jesus.” Without touching a morsel of food for themselves, they barged out the doors running back towards Jerusalem.

9:50 P.M.

The disciples were amazed. It had not been one day and yet two sightings of Jesus had been given. In each of their hearts, they desperately wanted to witness Jesus at least once more.

“Are you sure that it was Jesus?” Thaddeus asked.

“Positive,” Nicodemus answered, “I knew when he took that bread that it was him.” Everyone’s heart lifted. They knew Jesus had risen, but now they knew he was visiting them all.

Their hearts dropped when they heard walking outside. It sounded like that of many men.

“They’ve found us,” Simon harshly whispered. “Quickly, lock the door!” The disciples in a flash locked the door. If the Romans had come and would break in, their cause would be lost. The sound of feet continued until it reached the door.

Peter and Simon grabbed their swords. Fear swept around them like wolves trapping a deer. There was no knock on the door, though. Nobody barged through. Nobody tried to open the door. Silence filled the room.

Suddenly, a bright flash of light filled the room. Simon and Peter dropped their swords dazzled by the light. Everyone turned away so their eyes wouldn’t be blinded.

“Peace be with you,” a familiar voice said calmly. When the light stopped shining, the disciples turned around to see their master. Despite all that they heard, fear made them believe that he was a spirit. Jesus, noticing this, explained, “Come and feel me. See that I have the holes in my wrists where the soldiers nailed me.” The sight of the nails stopped the disbelief of everyone. Jesus looked around. “Where is Thomas?” Jesus asked.

“He isn’t here,” Peter answered. “He went elsewhere.”

“I will see him soon, then.” Jesus sat amongst them. The disciples were amazed. Jesus acted as if that nothing had happened. While they were confused for a while, they soon sat down and ate the broiled fish. It was another supper with their Messiah. Jesus began to drink wine and eat bread. The disciples remembered how Jesus promised the other day that he would not eat or drink until everything was fulfilled. But what was fulfilled? This question filled Andrew’s mind.

“Rabbi, what is it you have fulfilled for us?” Andrew finally asked.

“What has not been fulfilled, Andrew?” Jesus replied. “Every prophecy from even the beginning of time has been fulfilled through me. Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms have all written about me and now are complete.”

The understanding of Scripture came into everyone’s mind. Even Nicodemus received a new inspiration in his mind about the prophecies. The words that he spoke to Jesus about three years ago now made sense.

Jesus continued, “The Messiah came here not to be an earthly king or a new prophet. He came here to be the Lamb of God and the priest. This is to bring repentance to the world, starting here in Jerusalem. I came back to life so that you too may have life. Sin and death have no power over those who put their faith in me. You are my witnesses to these things.”

The disciples finally understood all these things. No more questions filled their head every day. All answers were made. Jesus finished his dinner and stood up.

“You shall see me in the coming days, but I want you to go to Galilee soon and tell my brothers. I will reveal to you where and when you shall finally meet me.” With that, Jesus in another brilliant flash of light disappeared. The disciples stared into the space Jesus once was in. Their minds did not believe that they had seen a hallucination. It was all real. Their life had been given meaning, not just in that they could know what to do next, but that they had true life living in them now. Their sins were removed and their everlasting life was granted.

40 Days Later

The disciples and Jesus’ brothers climbed the mountain where Jesus told them to go. Over the past month, they received more teaching and understanding.

A while ago, Peter still felt oppressed by his sin of denying Christ three times. When Jesus came to him one day while he was fishing, he reinstated Peter and forgave his sin.

Thomas also no longer doubted that Jesus was resurrected. Weeks ago he denied that the other disciples’ words were true. When Jesus appeared to him, he believed and had faith again.

Matthew now finished his full gospel. It was a fulfilled gospel, full of hope and life. It did not end in death and sorrow as he believed just yesterday. His prayers were answered positively.

Everyone was happy for Jesus’ brothers. Before they had no faith that their half-brother was the Messiah. Their faith equaled and sometimes exceeded the faith of the disciples now.

The disciples finished their climb up the mountain. Jesus sat on top looking up at the sky. Something important would happen that day, they all believed. Jesus turned around and nodded his head. Gathering everyone around him, Jesus gave his final commandment.

“The Father has granted me all authority on heaven and earth. I am about to leave you soon to return to my Father now.” The disciples backed away. Jesus was going to leave them? “Do not be afraid,” Jesus continued, “I will send my guide to you soon.”

“Jesus, will you at this time reinstate the kingdom of Israel?” Peter asked.

“That is not for you to know right now, Peter. Remember I have come to save the world, not the kingdom of Israel.” Peter nodded.

Suddenly a blast like a welcoming trumpet flourished the air. Jesus’ body began to be lifted up. He began to ascend into heaven. “Now I make this final commandment to you. Go out among all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them everything I have commanded you,” Jesus commanded. Tears welled in the eyes of the disciples as Jesus rose ever higher in the skies.

“And remember this one last promise as well. I am always with you, to the very end of the age.” Jesus looked into the sky and continued his ascension to heaven. Finally, a cloud came across Jesus. That was the last time the disciples ever saw Jesus on earth. Their hearts filled with this commandment and loving promise, they went away worshipping the Lord forever.

Now there are many other things I can tell you about the final week of Jesus, but how can one ever accomplish this? Not even the whole world could hold the chronology of Jesus. But this we believe: This is Jesus Christ, the prophet from Nazareth. The Mediator between God and man. The Lamb of God and the priest.

This is Jesus:

King of All

Saturday

Disclaimer: As there are no records of the day after Christ’s death, I must give speculation over what may have happened. I do not wish you to believe that this is what happened on Christ’s second day of death, but I do wish that you recognize the lesson of salvation behind this.

Infinity – Hell

It was over for Satan. The sacrifice was complete. Now nothing could stop millions of people from access to God. Today marked the second day on Earth that Jesus had died.

Hell heated up and Satan shrieked followed by millions of other judged humans and demons. Their torture worsened because Satan and his demons had run out to tempt the Jews. Worse things would come, Satan knew. Since Jesus sacrificed himself, he was able to save anyone who followed him. Satan no longer had total control over them.

“And soon they’ll receive the Spirit,” Satan groaned. The war was over. Now he knew that he was doomed to spend here for eternity. His fight to become God was over. Since the beginning Satan fought against God. Even when he was sent to be here he believed that perhaps he could still win. Now with the sacrifice complete, the war was over. Now Satan was fighting a losing battle.

A thought came into his head. Jesus was dead and he had taken on billions of sins. He was guilty. Resisting the pressure that bore down on him, Satan walked to the gates of hell. If he were going to spend an eternity in hell, he would make sure the Son would suffer with him.

2:00 P.M. – Man’s Universe

The disciples sat down in dismay. Jesus had been dead for two days now. It didn’t seem fair. The prophecies looked like they had failed. Their Messiah looked like he failed.

“And now there is nothing left for us,” John sighed. “The Jews will come after us next. The only thing keeping them from doing so is the Sabbath.”

“We couldn’t even have a fond memory of teacher before he died. We all abandoned him. I denied I even knew him,” Peter mumbled. The room was silent and filled with despond. They were truly alone. They abandoned everything to follow Jesus, and now they even left Jesus.

“Can’t we just find some way to escape Judea?” Jude asked. “Maybe we can leave and come back some day later.”

“That won’t work,” Peter noted with his head staring down at the floor. “If we leave the Gentiles will just find us and bring us back. We’re just waiting now before they kill all of us.” Everyone looked down. Peter was right, there was no escape for them.

Andrew then thought for a minute. “What if Jesus had planned all of this to happen?” He asked the disciples. Everyone looked up confusedly at him. “Well, let’s think for a minute. Remember when Jesus predicted his death?”

“Three or four times, I’ve lost count,” James answered.

“Well, Jesus apparently realized that he was going to die soon. Perhaps there was reason for that.”

“How does that fit in with the lamb of God coming to Jerusalem to be sacrificed by Jesus?” John asked.

Andrew thought for a minute. He looked up and responded, “I think Jesus used that term to mean himself. He was the lamb from God.”

“But he said he was the priest,” John pointed out.

“That’s the point. Jesus was both the Lamb of God and the priest. Remember how he acted when he was put on trial and as he walked to his crucifixion? He looked like he was a sheep being brought to the slaughter, but he also looked like a priest getting ready to sacrifice an animal.” The disciples mumbled their agreement. Andrew’s words were logical. Perhaps Jesus had been talking about himself all this time. Andrew became excited and jumped up from where he sat. “And not only that, but Jesus also promised to rise from the grave on the third day!”

The room was silent. They did not feel Andrew’s excitement. Peter looked up and asked, “Andrew, what man could rise from the grave by his own power? Jesus could raise others from the grave because of his power, but how could he possibly do that for himself?”

Andrew stopped. Peter’s words stung him like a hornet’s stinger. Jesus’ power could heal the sick, remove demons, and even raise people from the dead, but all of that power could only work, he believed, if Jesus was alive. Now his rabbi was dead and that power was gone. What they laid in that grave yesterday was a lifeless shell. Jesus was gone.

“So we can only guess that Jesus lied to us this whole time about being the Son and his kingdom being out of this world,” Andrew choked. “Everything he said was to fool us, and now since he’s dead we are left caught in his glorious net.”

5:00 P.M.

Matthew sat alone in a dark room copying and writing down everything he could remember. Over the past three years he had written down the parables, lessons, and sermons of Jesus. He also busily worked on Jesus’ life and looked over his death, which he remembered with painful reminders.

Unlike the others, Matthew did not give up hope that Jesus could possibly be raised to life. He could tell that others such as John and Peter did not say that Jesus was dead forever. Matthew finished Jesus’ birth. Over the past few weeks he had studied the genealogy of Jesus. He tried to figure where in Jesus’ life he should write on next.

“Perhaps when he was baptized by John the Baptizer?” A voice asked from behind. Matthew whipped around. Though he swore that someone said something to him, he found no one in the room. He turned and leaned forward near the paper. The idea did sound good. Jesus’ ministry did begin close to when his cousin baptized him. He began to write then. Memories from Jesus’ life poured into his mind. When he was tempted, when he walked on water, and the time when he fed five thousand people who listened to him.

This was to Matthew perhaps the most important thing he could do. Jesus had transformed his life from that of a low-level tax collector to a disciple of him. He did not want to leave that for granted.

Matthew finished. Holding up his gospel, he pondered upon it. Everything seemed perfect. Finally, he flipped to his last page. Frowning, he saw the end. There was the burial of Jesus and the guard up at his tomb. It seemed empty. As much as Jesus’ story sounded brilliant, it did not mean anything. If this was the end, Jesus’ life truly meant nothing. Matthew prayed. He hoped that Jesus truly is the Messiah and would be raised. The gospel cannot end this way.

Infinity – Heaven

The Father sat on His throne. He was pleased. The Law that condemned men was now fulfilled. Men will now live with him based on their faith and love. Although He knew His Son had defeated sin, there was one last enemy to destroy. Death was still out there rampaging across the earth.

“Unless death is defeated,” the Father declared, “man will not be resurrected. He is not yet an immortal being.” The angels worshipped him as He spoke. The Father looked next to Him. The Spirit was there as well. The Holy Spirit waited the day when He would come down and guide and comfort mankind.

“You have empowered the Son while he was in man’s universe,” the Father noted. “Soon, you can guide men to their faith.”

“Yes I shall,” the Spirit replied. The Spirit sat back. The Father looked out over the universes. His Son would need to fight Satan and fulfill the resurrection to defeat death.

Everything relied on the Son’s fulfillment of the prophecies.

??? – Somewhere between heaven, earth, and hell

Darkness surrounded Jesus. The sound of wind howled all around him, but it was not there. There was nothing in between worlds. The absence of light and heat made him shiver. He was the only thing that was here. Perhaps he wasn’t a thing. There was no way to prove it either way because the world was nothing but darkness. Though on the other hand he had to be something. How else could he be conscious?

Jesus knew that he was Himself. This is the land that once was before His Father, the Spirit, and he created heaven and earth. It was a place only he could possibly comprehend.

Apparently he was not the only thing in between. Twisting around, he felt a large sword swooping down upon him. He ducked nimbly and the sword passed over. He though he couldn’t see the sword or the thing holding the sword, knew it was the devil.

“Satan,” he called out, his voice ringing through the land of in-between, “why have you come here?”

“Because, Son of God,” Satan hissed, “when you died you took on all the sins of those who have been faithful to you in the past, present, and future. I shouldn’t need to point this out, you know yourself.” Pointing his sword at Jesus, he continued, “Now you are mine. If you come peacefully, perhaps there will be no need to quarrel.”

“And where can I justly follow you, traitor?” Jesus asked.

Satan burst into laughter. “You ask as if you were ignorant of the answer. Since you desire one, I’ll point out that you must spend all eternity in hell with me. You are now guilty of billions of sins and therefore shall come with me.”

Jesus shook his head. “That is not the end of me, I’m afraid.” Satan backed away. What did Jesus mean by this? What would the Son do now? Jesus looked over to where he thought Satan was. “I have not only come to die for all sins but to be life as well. I have defeated sin, now I will defeat death. Then your reign on Earth will be over.” Jesus began to walk away. In the distance a faint light of man’s universe was ahead.

Satan clinched his sword. He could not even bring Jesus to doom. He was only dead so he could wait for the prophecy to be finished. Unacceptable. Jesus must be brought to Hell one way or another.

“By all of the powers of hell, I will surely bring you to doom!” Satan yelled out. Raising his sword, Satan flew at Jesus. As he swung down, Jesus disappeared and reappeared away from Satan. He continued to walk as if Satan was not there.

Furious, Satan leapt at Jesus again. Jesus did his same trick, but Satan was ready. Anticipating where Jesus was going, Satan blindly threw his sword into the dark. It came straight at his target. Satan smiled sinisterly. Jesus looked at the incoming weapon calmly. When the sword came dangerously close to Jesus, it shattered into pieces. Satan heard the sound and stood aghast.

“Satan, you have deceived yourself into a point that you are more powerful than anything. While I was in man’s universe, you believed my manhood would be deceived easily. You were wrong. Now my human body is dead and soon to be risen. You have no power unless I have granted it to you. Now I do not. Leave Satan, you have failed.” The Son began to walk again towards Earth.

Satan yelled out. He hated the Son even more. He came here to take Jesus away, but now the Son will simply walk his way back to his body.

“No!” he cried out. “You are doomed!” Satan launched himself at Jesus, intending to simply wrestle the Son away from man’s universe. Suddenly, what felt like a boulder slamming into his face, Satan was knocked down. He grabbed his face and tensed in the pain that held him down. Jesus’ power was the culprit.

“You have no power over me, Satan,” Jesus repeated in the distance. The footsteps of Jesus began to become quieter and quieter until Satan heard them no more. The power holding him down released its grip on Satan’s head. Jumping up, Satan tried to hear or see Jesus. He was nowhere. He was probably in man’s universe again already.

Satan let out a roar. The echoes carried through the land of in-between. Instead of curses, Satan only heard moans. And these were the remnants of Satan’s power: echoes.

Friday

5:00 A.M.

Pontius awoke. He wasn’t in the mood, but there was an important trial occurring today regarding the priests. It was this Jesus man. Putting on his governor robes, he remembered how for the past three years Jesus had been a popular teacher for the people of Judea. It was said that he could heal people and that he was a prophet from their god. Personally, he cared little about this rabbi. All he was here for was to make sure that the people did not rebel.

That difficult balance to keep the peace must have been tripped. According to the reports he received last night, the priests found him to be a traitor to Rome and about to cause a rebellion.

‘I don’t know if I should trust these reports,’ Pilate thought. ‘The Pharisees and other leaders are fanatics who are so power-hungry they’ll condemn anyone that they view as traitorous. It’s them that I think would cause a rebellion.’

The sheets moved around from the bed behind him. Pontius’ wife was waking up.

“Go back to sleep, I have a trial to go to,” Pontius requested.

“Dear, who is being tried so early in the morning?” His wife asked.

“Some Jesus of Nazareth. The people have been calling him a prophet. The priests and other leaders have been calling him a sinner and a traitor.” Pontius’ wife gasped.

“I had a horrible dream about him, Pontius. Don’t lay a hand on that man because he is innocent. Whatever you do don’t condemn him to death.”

Pontius turned to see his wife’s face. The fear in her face convinced him that she knew something about Jesus. It must be true.

“I promise I won’t do anything. I’ll find a way to make sure he is innocent.” Pontius went out the door. His wife curled up, afraid that even Caesar could stop what she saw in her nightmare.

6:00 A.M.

The crowd continued its mocking and loud curses. All had one message: Crucify Jesus. Roman soldiers used their shields to blockade the way to Jesus. If the Jews broke through, they would surely murder Jesus without trial.

Still bound from last night, Jesus dragged his legs over the ground. Even though his bones were intact, the beatings he received made his body ache. Misery filled his mind. Six days had passed since Jesus entered Jerusalem. Since their worshipping him, the Jews slowly went from revering him to cursing him. They had expected him to become their king. When he didn’t, they believed that he wasn’t an incoming king but a traitor. The people had hated Rome before today. Today, Caesar was their king.

While most of the crowd was cursing and jeering at Jesus, in the far back Jesus heard the weeping and sighs of others who still followed him. He knew that they were his disciples and whoever else cared to come.

Another push made him lurch forward. “Move faster, get to Pilate!” A guard growled. Jesus moved as fast as his body could bear. Within a few minutes, they arrived at Pontius Pilate’s court. Inside, Pilate and prosecutors awaited him.

Pontius groaned. He was afraid. All that morning he heard the hissing and curses from the crowd. He did not want to kill Jesus. If there were anything that could prove Jesus’ innocence, he would focus on that. When he saw Jesus come in, he saw that Jesus was already beaten. The priests had treated him cruelly before they had even given him a fair trial. Surely, these charges must be falsified because something the religious leaders had against him. No matter, he must judge Jesus without condemning or releasing him. Pontius’ heart burned to release Jesus, though.

“What charges are you bringing against Jesus of Nazareth?” He asked the prosecutors. To his surprise, the prosecutors seemed stunned by this question, as if they had no charges. They mumbled to each other quietly so Pilate couldn’t hear, and then turned back to the governor.

“Pontius, if he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” This response almost sickened Pontius. Did the prosecutors honestly have no charges on Jesus?

As Pontius was about to release Jesus, he heard the mob outside. If he released Jesus without a full trial, charges or not, the Israelites would be infuriated. They would surely rebel. Thoughts flew quickly through Pilate’s head about the consequences to himself, Judea, and Rome.

Not wanting to risk it but yet wishing to find a way to release Jesus off of his hands, Pontius responded back to the prosecutors, “If you have a problem with this rabbi, it is none of my concern. Go away and judge him by your own law.” Perhaps this way he would get rid of Jesus. Perhaps the leaders of the Sanhedrin would let him go.

“We have no right to execute anyone,” the prosecutors fretted. Pontius sighed. This case would be up to him to judge.

“I see you’re having trouble with remembering your charges. Go away for a while and then come back and give me some decent reasons to try this man.” The prosecutors sheepishly crept away in another part of the room. Jesus stood still, looking down upon the floor.

Secretly, each prosecutor had his own false story to share in court. Taking the words of Jesus incorrectly, some claimed that he opposed taxes to Caesar and claimed to be their Messiah, a king.

Pontius’ mind whirled. How could he escape not punishing this man? He made a promise that he would make sure Jesus was set free. If he had the convict’s blood on his hands, his wife would never forgive him. Thinking hard, he came up with an idea.

“Now, I am not a follower of this Jesus and have no record on what exactly he says. I do know this, though. This man whom you claim defies the taxes imposed by Caesar does not do as he says. Let me ask you a question, did Jesus and his disciples pay the temple tax you all imposed?”

The prosecutors gathered together. Jesus did not look up a minute. Even though Pontius’ actions were well intentioned, they would not stop what was to happen. The prosecutors turned around swallowing hard.

“Yes, he has,” they admitted.

“But you claim he is your and Caesar’s enemy, correct?”

“Yes.” The prosecutors anticipated what Pontius would say.

“It seems, then, that he will pay taxes imposed upon him even when it seems that he is against them. Why would that be true? I know for a fact that this rabbi has paid taxes to Caesar. He certainly cannot have denied that paying taxes to Caesar. As for the second accusation, I’ll allow Jesus to speak for himself.” Pontius looked down at Jesus. “Are you the king of the Jews?” He asked.

Without lifting his head, Jesus replied, “Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?”

Confused by Jesus’ answer but still determined to receive an answer, Pontius answered, “Am I a Jew? It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done? Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus nodded his head. He looked up and replied, “Then I must answer you about my kingdom. My kingdom that I have is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“Then you are a king!” Pilate exclaimed.

“It is for that reason that I was born. I have come to testify what is the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate snorted abruptly. “What is truth?” When he asked that, he ordered the guards, “Take Jesus outside to the courtyard. Have the Jews come there. I will give my verdict there.” Striding out of the door, Pilate prepared for the curses to come on him.

The prosecutors grimaced. They had failed to try Jesus and give him a sentence of death. They bit their lips and stormed out to join the mob. The guards grabbed Jesus’ arms and walked him out to the forum. Pontius was sitting outside in another bedizened throne. The crowd, upon seeing Jesus, grew louder in their uproars. They cursed Jesus.

“Die, demon of the devil!”

“May your blood spill on Golgotha today!”

“Crucify him!”

Reading himself for the worst, Pontius stood up and held out his hand to silence the mob.

6:15 A.M.

“Upon the evidence brought up in the trial, I find no basis for a charge against Jesus,” Pontius declared. The crowd began to riot. The soldiers moved in so that they could quell this crowd. Pontius saw that he made his verdict too brief. He laid his head on his fist, thinking hard on how to release this innocent priest.

He had to continue to reason with them. “What is there to accuse Jesus on the grounds of death?” He reasoned with the rioters.

The question only made their voices louder. “Crucify him!” They all screamed.

Things were falling apart, the soldiers started to beat back the Jews. In their midst, Jesus saw that Satan was in among them, only driving their fury deeper. If Satan was going to fail, he was determined to make Jesus suffer the punishment that he suffered and mankind should have suffered.

“I will make your heaven like hell, Son of God. I swear that,” Satan promised to Jesus. With that, Satan disappeared among the rioters.

6:20 A.M.

The rioting would not cease. It would not be long before the Jews would overtake the soldiers. It was the brink of war.

“Pontius,” a breathless centurion begged, “the Jews are about to rebel against your rule. You have to do something with Jesus now.”

Persistent to his promise and his belief in Jesus’ innocence, Pilate looked around. Soon, a plausible answer came upon him. A while ago, a man named Barabbas had led a violent rebellion against him and Herod. He was crushed and brought before him. Then he was sentenced for his rebellion. Popular opinion of him had greatly decreased since his imprisonment. Now, since it was the Jews’ tradition on the Passover, he could release one man. Surely they would choose an innocent man over a true traitor of Rome.

Pontius came up to the mob and yelled out, “Since it is your custom that I release one prisoner this time of year, I will give you an option. Do you choose Barabbas or do you choose the king of the Jews?”

Without any thought, the crowd shouted back, “Away with Jesus! Give us Barabbas!”

Pontius was shocked. How much did these people truly hate Jesus? What had Jesus done to them? Pontius turned back to Jesus.

“Where are you from, Jesus?” Pilate asked. Jesus, who stared out over the mob sullenly, didn’t make a single response. A person in the crowd began to throw rocks at the soldiers. The mob would soon break through and surely kill them. Jesus was the only way that he could be release without a rebellion arising. Pontius grabbed Jesus on the shoulder and jerked him to look up.

“Why are you saying nothing? I’ve heard that you are able to calm storms, now calm this mob.” The soldiers backed up as the mob began to push in. Pontius shouted at Jesus, “Say something! Don’t you realize I have the power over your life or death?”

Jesus immediately answered calmly and softly, “You have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Pontius backed away. This was it? Of the wise sayings, Jesus told him this? That he has no power over Jesus? Why did Jesus say that a greater sin was committed? Was Jesus talking about his promise to his wife to not commit a crime against him?

Suddenly, a soldier fell down. The mob was running through! The soldiers were about to slice down on their heads. Pontius stepped away and shouted, “Stop! Jesus will be punished then released. I will have him flogged.” The mob stopped its advance and the soldiers put away their swords. The two groups separated. Two centurions grabbed Jesus and drug him back into the palace. Meanwhile, the lead centurion, Abeldarus, came up to Pontius.

“Governor, you did not specify how many times we would whip the prisoner.”

Pontius turned to Abeldarus. Pointing to the dispersing crowd, who were going to see Jesus’ scourging, Pontius ordered, “Enough times to satisfy them.” Abeldarus nodded his head and went into the palace. Pontius sat on his throne, finally able to breathe. The problem of Jesus’ survival was imminent. Only a few ever survived being flogged. Pontius prayed that Jesus would survive.

Another problem had surfaced too. The Jews were going after Jesus’ death. If the flogging did not satisfy the people, the fate of Jesus was out of his hands. He had lost all power.

7:30 A.M.

Another whip crack ripped through Jesus’ back. The soldiers had lost count to how many times they whipped Jesus. Surely he would be dead if they whipped him much more. It looked as if “much more” would be the only way to satiate the Jews.

Unlike Pontius, the soldiers were more than happy seeing the pain Jesus was going through. Another whip snapped. Another stripe down Jesus’ back. Another cry out for pain. The crowd could not get enough of this torture. Satan had made them thirsty for blood.

Deciding that they didn’t want to whip Jesus anymore, one of the soldiers turned to the other soldier on his right. “He’s had enough scourging. Hold off. Balius, bring in the crown for the mighty ‘king.’” Snickering, Balius walked off. A few others grabbed a stick and one retrieved a violet robe.

Balius returned. The crown was not of jewels and gold, but of thorns. Using two sticks, they slid the thorn crown over Jesus’ head. Blood welled from his head. At this moment, Jesus was hardly able to move. The soldier holding the robe set it nicely around Jesus’ chest. The stick was set in Jesus’ immobile hand.

The soldiers got down on their knees and mock worshipped Jesus as if he were a king. The crowd jeered at Jesus, asking him to prophesy to them. When the soldiers stood up, one grabbed the stick and struck Jesus on the head. As his body hit the ground, the crown of thorns rampaged its way further in Jesus’ skull. Jesus coughed up blood. The crowds cheered more.

The soldiers picked up Jesus in “kingly” uniform and brought him back to Pilate.

Pilate stood up from his seat. Seeing that the soldiers went beyond his orders, he grabbed his lead centurion on the neck.

“I thought I told you to have Jesus whipped, not mocked and treated like you have done.” Pontius’ hand squeezed tightly around Abeldarus’ neck.

Abeldarus wheezed, “If we went any further in scourging Jesus, he would have surely died.” At this realization, Pontius let his centurion go. In dismay, he stared at Jesus. It seemed like nothing would stop the Jews from having their wish granted.

The shouts and curses rang from the courtyard again. Pontius and the soldiers, bringing along Jesus, walked out. The mob had returned, unhappy with Jesus’ survival. Though he saw that all reason was lost, Pontius cried out, “There is no evidence on Jesus being a traitor. He is an innocent man.”

One of the Pharisees, who was there, yelled back, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Pontius suddenly feared for his life. Would the Jews report this case to Tiberius? If this were to happen, Tiberius would have both he and Jesus killed. Pontius quivered as he thought over the torturous ways the emperor would have them murdered. It would be less painful for Jesus to die, even if on a cross, then both to die.

The words of his wife returned to him. Jesus was innocent. Pontius was a leader and judge, and he would judge based upon fact. The facts were that Jesus was a pure man!

Pontius grabbed Jesus and showed him to the Jews. The people cursed him when they saw him.

“Here is your king,” Pontius called out.

“Crucify him! Take him away!” The people shouted out.

“Do you want your king to die?” Pontius asked the people.

“We have no other king except Caesar!” All of them cried out.

It was all over. If he didn’t sentence Jesus, Tiberius and the Jews would come after him. If he did, he would break a promise and condemn an innocent man. There was only one thing to do.

“Bring me a basin full of water,” he ordered Abelardus. His centurion went and did as he was commanded. Pontius dipped his hands in the cool water. He would have no part in this sin. If the people killed a man, he could at least say that he was out of all of it.

Revealing his clean hands, he cried out to the people, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility!” Pontius threw the basin of water over and spilled it everywhere. Looking at Jesus one last time, Pontius stood in confusion. Jesus did not look like a man who was afraid of death. Jesus looked as if he were ready and planned this very moment. The centurions once more grabbed a hold of Jesus and brought him to the crowd.

The decision was unanimous. Jesus would be crucified.

9:00 A.M.

The cross felt as if it would crush Jesus under its weight. He would have to carry it from where he was to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. Following two other men, Jesus felt the further whips bearing down his back. The crowds laughed and mocked him on one side, but there was mourning behind him. Some women who followed him from Galilee had followed him, crying out begging for him to be saved. Jesus reminded himself that he could only save those women from their sins with his death.

Suddenly, Jesus’ knees buckled. He collapsed to the ground and the cross crushed him underneath. He could no longer carry his burden. The soldiers continuously beat him so that he would get up, but they stopped soon. Realizing that Jesus could not move anymore, they searched through the crowd. One of the soldiers pointed at a man.

“You there, what is your name?” The soldier asked.

The man stuttered, “My name is Simon. I am from Cyrene.” The soldier grabbed Simon’s arm and tossed him onto the road next to Jesus.

“Carry the cross!” Simon was afraid and complied. He had been traveling with his two sons up till then. He prayed that they were safe. The cross was carried swiftly to Golgotha since Simon was stronger and he was not beaten as he walked. The soldiers dragged Jesus along the ground to make their way to the hill.

Simon dropped the cross and walked to his two sons who followed him. The soldiers tossed Jesus in front of his death tree.

“Get on it!” The centurion shouted. Jesus struggled. Slowly, he crawled onto the cross. The centurion noticed that Jesus still had his cloak on. Taking the cloak, the centurion laughed. Others saw the value in the cloak and asked him to divide the garment. Since it could not be torn apart, they cast lots over it.

One soldier who didn’t join in picked up three nails and a mallet.

“I hate this part of my job,” the executioner grumbled. Jesus heard the screams of the other two criminals beside him. They were being nailed onto the cross.

The soldier set Jesus’ hand on the end of one end of the cross. Jesus did not struggle. He was done moving anymore. The hammer was lifted up. It dropped down. Pain surged throughout Jesus’ body. The rusty nail went through his hand. Blood gushed from the wound. The hammer dropped down again. This time the nail went straight through his whole hand.

Jesus looked up and cried out, “Father, forgive them! They do not know what they do!”

The second nail slammed through his hand. Blood rushed out through that way. Soon, it burst through both sides. Now Jesus could no longer move. The last nail was put on the feet. The nail burst through his flesh. Blood poured out. It took five more strikes to get the nail through both feet.

When the nails were put in, the soldiers set Jesus up. They set him in between the criminals. One was on his left and the other was on his right. The crowd mocked Jesus. They were satisfied and enjoyed their time at killing this man in a torturous way.

Some Pharisees laughed, “He saved others. If he is the true Messiah and Son of God, let him come down!” The world suddenly went slowly. Jesus once again felt evil’s strong presence.

“They are right you know,” a sinister hiss pointed out behind him. “You could by your unlimited power rip out the nails and clean your own wounds. Then you can send your angels down and destroy all of your enemies.”

“Satan, leave me,” Jesus begged. Satan did not leave this time so quickly.

“This is your last chance. If you die, your Father will forsake you because you will have the sins of everyone who trusts in you upon yourself. Do you want this to happen?”

“If I am not sacrificed, then the lamb will not give its blood to the world.”

“So you fight for these pitiful, traitorous creatures. It sounds very heroic, but in reality it is pitiful and ridiculous. They will never join you.”

“Do not lie to me, Satan. I know many will join me in paradise. You and death will be defeated.” Satan hissed. This was the reason he was tempting Jesus for the last time. He was nearly on the point of begging Jesus to not die.

“Get behind me Satan,” Jesus whispered. “You have failed.”

Satan yelled, “I will enjoy watching you die, Son of God!” Satan disappeared. He returned to tempting the crowd.

Soon, some quieted down. They saw and gasped as they saw a sign above Jesus. Jesus looked up above him. On the top of his cross were the words in Latin, Greek, and Aramaic: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Jesus knew it had to be from Pontius. The criminal on his left then looked over at Jesus.

“Jesus, if you’re really the Christ, then come down off of the cross and bring us with you,” he demanded. He continued to hurl insults and curses.

Suddenly, the other criminal shouted back, “Do you not fear God? We deserve to be here, but Jesus has done nothing to deserve this.” The criminal on the left turned away and spoke no more. The criminal on Jesus’ right turned painfully towards Jesus and continued, “Jesus, when you get to heaven, can you remember me?”

Jesus turned his head and looked at the man. He was sullen. He feared death greatly, even though he understood the consequences of his actions.

“Do not worry. Today, you will be with me in paradise.” The criminal of his right stopped speaking, but his heart leapt for joy. He had hope filled in him.

Suddenly, it started to rain. Thunderclouds flashed lightning from above. This drove some people away. The Roman soldiers and some in the crowd continued their rant and mocking Jesus. This was the end for Jesus. He was going to die the way of a criminal because of his innocence.

2:55 P.M.

The rain poured harder. The crowd had long stopped mocking Jesus and now waited to watch and see when he would die. The spark of energy they had had worn out long ago. The soldiers stood by the crosses, waiting for them to die.

As for Jesus, he continued to hang there. Occasionally, he would open the wounds even more by pushing himself up so he could breath. It did not matter if he breathed now, though. He had lost most of his blood already. Finding himself gulping for air more continuously now, he braced himself for the end. He looked into the sky.

‘I have done it, Father,’ he prayed. ‘The sins of the world may now be forgiven. It is nearly complete.’ He pushed up and gasped again. ‘May you now glorify me as I have glorified you. Do not hide your face to the world any longer and embrace it. Bring lost souls to the kingdom to be resurrected later.’

Lightning sounded from the air. The wind sped through. Jesus began to shake horribly. He was dying. With the last amount of strength he had, he pushed up and gulped in more air.

“Father, into your arms I commend my spirit,” he shouted. With that, he breathed out and closed his eyes.

Suddenly, the earth shook. The Father had sent an earthquake. The people fled for their lives. The soldiers held as tightly as they could to the rocks around them. A chasm opened its way toward Jerusalem.

Abelardus looked up at Jesus’ cross and stood amazed. The coincidences were too much.

“Surely, this must be the Son of God,” he whispered to himself.

3:00 P.M.

Caiaphas and the other priests stood around the temple. The rain had driven them inside.

“Now he is dead?” Caiaphas asked.

“He most certainly is. We have won, Caiaphas.” The other Pharisees agreed in enjoyment.

“We must not celebrate, gentlemen. After all, if Jesus were not a sinner, he would have been valuable for all of us. He may have even enjoyed high priesthood.” Everyone agreed with Caiaphas’ saying. But now they were done with their nightmare. They had won, so they felt.

As they conversed, a tearing sound from inside the holiest room rang through their ears. Since only Caiaphas could enter, he went quickly and closed the door. Soon, he came back out with his eyes bloodshot and wide open.

“The curtain to the holy of holies has been ripped in half!” Caiaphas exclaimed. “God has separated the barrier between himself and the world!”

5:00 P.M.

The rain stopped. The earthquake had passed. The soldiers were thankful that it did not destroy anything in the city. Now their attention returned to the crosses. Since the Sabbath was coming soon, they agreed to kill the live men. Taking an iron rod, they crushed the legs of the two criminals.

As they came on Jesus, they saw that his eyes were closed and he was not breathing.

“Check and see if he is dead already,” one soldier ordered. Abelardus took his spear and shot it into the side of Jesus. Pulling out the spear, a gush of blood came out. It didn’t last long when water began to pour out of Jesus. Abelardus knew what this meant. Jesus had no more blood left in him when he died.

Jesus’ mother wept as they pulled down Jesus from the cross. John tried to comfort her, but he wept bitterly as well. He thought that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was the priest. Now it looked as if there were no hope left.

Taking the nails by their hands, the soldiers ripped out the iron nails. The holes were visible all the way through. Gently, they lifted off Jesus’ crown of thorns and threw it away with the nails. The women gathered around Jesus’ body and wept.

Meanwhile, a man knocked on the palace door of Pontius Pilate. The governor opened the door, saddened by the loss of the innocent life.

“Who are you?” Pontius asked.

“My name is Joseph. I come from the town of Arimathea. I’d like to see if I can bury Jesus’ body in my tomb.”

Pontius, worn from the stress of that day, nodded his consent and closed the door. Joseph left to retrieve Jesus’ body.

7:00 P.M.

Joseph carefully wrapped Jesus into the burial. The other man diligently poured the myrrh and aloes over Jesus’ body. Joseph looked at the man helping him. Judging by the looks like the man, it seemed that he was a Pharisee who believed in Jesus’ ministry.

“What is your name, sir?” Joseph asked.

The man looked up and sighed. “My name is Nicodemus,” he answered.

“Do you work as a Pharisee?”

Nicodemus remembered his last Sanhedrin meeting a few days ago. “I once was,” he replied. “I do not understand why I should now. None of this makes sense. I thought that Jesus could be the Messiah. The prophets and psalms seemed to point to him, but now he is not alive any longer.”

Joseph stared down at Jesus’ closed eyes. “I do not understand the prophecies myself, but I wonder if somehow this meant something. Maybe his death was essential for our salvation.”

Nicodemus looked at Jesus’ face as well, but felt no more confidence. “I just don’t understand anymore. No one can anymore. Jesus was the world’s last glimmer of rational thinking, but now it is gone from our world. I pray he is with his Father.”

When they put the seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes on Jesus, they wrapped him in linen strips. Next, they took two long linen strips and wrapped them around Jesus.

“He is finished,” Joseph sighed. “Let us bring him to the tomb.” Taking Jesus’ body, they walked their way towards the private tomb of Joseph, now belonging to Jesus.

The funeral procession followed. The disciples, the women, and whoever else truly followed Jesus joined in mourning.

In a few minutes, they laid Jesus in the tomb and rolled a stone in front of it. Two Praetorian guards stood in front at the request of the religious leaders to Pilate. Because the Sabbath was coming, everyone dispersed quickly.

The followers could not understand how this could happen to their rabbi, their son, their brother, their long-awaited Messiah. Now, all was despair.

Thursday

(Yes, I know it is after Easter, but I know you probably want me to finish the story. My family was out last week for Easter and I could not write my stories while not having my computer.)
Infinity

Flames bashed the traitors around. Moans and cries from all across hell burst forth and continuously shrieked. Nothing here was happy. The worst of them was Satan, their leader.

It was not the flames so much that bothered him, but how the battle was going. Despite the temptations and thoroughly thought out plans, his enemy was not budging from his course.

“How can he stay this way?” Satan asked. “We have laid out some of our most powerful temptations, but the Son will not defy his Father.” Ducking quickly as another fireball leaped from the fiery chasm at him, he growled seeing that things were not going according to his plan. “But he is human right now!” He yelled out. His words were muffled by the cries of the other humans and demons that were with him. Satan bowed his head. ‘Tonight will be his hardest night,’ he thought, ‘and I will do everything in my power to tempt him away from fulfilling the prophecies.’

Leaving his allies, Satan rushed to the gates of hell to watch the Son all that day and tempt him when the stress is at its worst.

“I will be victorious. The Son cannot win this battle. It doesn’t matter if he is God, I will make sure that his humanity overtakes him.” He reached the gates and burst through. He flew his way to man’s universe.

3:00 P.M.

Peter continued his walk through the streets. John was beside him. They weren’t going about casually, their teacher had sent them to find a certain man.

“Who was it again that Rabbi said we should find?” John asked.

“Some man with a jar of water. He’s supposed to meet us.” Peter answered, turning his head down the street. While it would seem easy to spot someone with a jar of water, the city of Jerusalem was too crowded to easily find anyone. In fact, today was worse then any other day. Today was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Hundreds of Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to celebrate.

John motioned that they should go down the street to the right. As they turned, a voice came from behind them.

“Are you looking for me?” the voice asked politely. John and Peter whipped around. Sure enough, there was a man standing behind them holding a large jug of water.

“Yes we are,” Peter responded, “the Teacher asks where your guest room is where he may eat the feast with his disciples.”

“Of course,” the man happily replied, “come and follow me.” Thankful that they were through with their search, John and Peter went with the man, who said his name was Uzziah.

Within minutes, they reached the man’s house. When they walked upstairs into the guest room, the two disciples were stunned. The other ten disciples had already arrived!

“What are you all doing here already?” Peter asked.

“Jesus is preaching at the temple again. He told us to go on ahead and wait for you two.” Simon laughed. The others joined in. Peter and John couldn’t help chuckling either. They closed the door and awaited Jesus.

8:30 P.M.

Jesus came through the guest room door. Seeing that his disciples were safely there, he calmly closed the door. Upon sitting down, Jesus sighed deeply and abjectly.

“What is wrong, Rabbi?” Bartholomew asked.

“The people will not believe.” Jesus sighed. “They will accept me as a teacher. They can accept me as a prophet. They are willing to accept me as their king. But when I said that I was the awaited Messiah.”

“How can that be?” James asked, confused by the disbelief of the Jews. “We know that you are the Christ, I can even prove that –” Jesus looked up as he was nearly finishing his sentence. James stopped, remembering his promise to keep silent on Jesus’ transfiguration until later. James continued, “Besides, I thought the people worshipped you and followed you around only a few days ago.”

“I know their hearts,” Jesus responded, “They worshipped me because they thought I was their new king. They do not know that my kingdom is not of this world.” The disciples fell silent. Were they the only ones who believed that Jesus was the true Messiah, the Son of God? “Do not be troubled,” Jesus continued, “because when I am finished here there will be more followers than the whole of Judea.” With reassurance from Jesus, the disciples felt better about what was to come. After all, the Lamb of God would take the sins of the world away.

Thinking about the lamb, John looked up and asked Jesus, “When will the lamb of God come, rabbi?”

Jesus answered softly, “It is already here, John. It will be sacrificed tomorrow.” Energy surged through the disciples when they heard this news. There was great hope for the world, because the covenant between God and man would be fulfilled finally. The disciples began to talk with each other about the new kingdom that they could enter once the lamb was sacrificed. Jesus looked down without saying anything.

8:50 P.M.

The unleavened bread was being served. Thankful for the food, which was the most that the disciples had eaten for the past week, the disciples ate it with joy. Jesus pondered quietly. His time was coming rapidly to a close. Since he loved his disciples, he was going to finish with one last lesson.

Jesus slowly stood up. The disciples watched confusedly as he took off his cloak and wrapped a towel around him. Then he prepared a water basin.

Walking up to Peter first, he said, “Please let me wash your feet.”

Peter jumped up. He knew Jesus was kind, but he never believed that Jesus would do something so lowly as a servant’s job. “No, you will never wash my feet.” He fretted.

Jesus looked up at Peter, still kneeling down. “Peter, unless I wash your feet, you will have no part with me.” He answered.

Peter became more shocked. He did not wish to be left out of an inheritance with Jesus, whatever that might be. “Then not just my feet but my hands and head too.”

Jesus replied, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” Jesus glanced at Judas making sure he was not being seen. Judas looked away quickly.

He began to wash the feet of the other disciples. Time was running low. Every second was more precious now than ever before.

9:30 P.M.

The Passover meal was finishing. Something above was watching. It was Satan, seeing if anything could be done to tempt Jesus away from what his plan was. His eyes turned to Judas, who was finishing dipping his bread in a bowl. He remembered how Judas promised to give Jesus over to the religious leaders for the price of a slave. Satan decided to make sure Judas kept his evil promise. As Judas finished dipping, Satan entered him.

Jesus shivered at the presence of evil that entered. He knew that Satan overtook Judas. Taking the bread, Jesus sighed, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” Suddenly, the disciples looked up from their eating and began to look around, suspecting each other.

Peter leaned toward John, who was closest to Jesus, and whispered, “Ask him which one he means.”

John spoke up, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus glanced quickly at Judas, who was trying to make him as little known as possible. “It is the one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Jesus took the bread and dipped it down into the bowl. Judas began to shake. Jesus knew exactly who betrayed him! Satan, taking control of Judas, calmed him down.

Judas turned to Jesus and whispered, “Surely, it is not I?”

Jesus responded aloud, “Yes it is you. You yourself have said it. Go and do what you are about to do.” Judas stood up and burst out the doors. The disciples heard loud footsteps running across the street. Soon, they disappeared. Assuming that he was only talking about buying more food, the disciples started eating again, but remained unsettled for the rest of the meal.

9:45 P.M.

“So Jesus is here? In Jerusalem?” Caiaphas asked. Judas smiled. He couldn’t understand why he felt so eager to turn Jesus over, but he was. It must be the fact that now Judea will be safe from his rabbi. Judas didn’t understand the consequences of his actions, but he was burning to do this act.

“Yes, but soon he’ll be gone.” He replied.

“Where will Jesus go to, then?” Caiaphas pressed. The other leaders urged the answer. Caiaphas silenced them.

Judas thought about the probable location where Jesus would go to next. “Gethsemane. He’ll go to Gethsemane. We must catch up to him before he leaves again.”

The leaders all agreed. Soon, Caiaphas announced, “Good. We will apprehend Jesus and bring him back here to be tried. We must gather the Romans and the temple guards, in case Jesus and his disciples should attempt to resist arrest.”

The others muttered their agreement. Judas did not speak up. He knew for a fact that there would be no fight from Jesus, but he felt excited to create trouble and make everyone spend their time. He was happy for what he was doing. The Sanhedrin broke up to go to the Roman soldiers and go to Gethsemane.

9:50 P.M.

The disciples were finishing their meal. All that remained was a cup of wine and some bread. These were important parts for Jesus to bless. Jesus picked up the bread and wine.

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Jesus foretold. The disciples were confused. For the past few days, Jesus was talking about a coming kingdom and salvation and most importantly the Lamb of God and how he was the priest. Now he is foretelling his suffering? Nothing was making sense.

Ignoring the confusion, Jesus blessed the bread and wine. “This is my body given for you.” He held the bread. “Eat in remembrance of me.” Jesus broke the bread in half and gave it to the disciples on his left and right.

Jesus held the wine next. “This is my blood, poured out for you. Drink this in remembrance of me.” Jesus took the wine and shared it among the group. The disciples were confused still, but obediently did as Jesus said.

When they finished, Jesus looked down. He finished his speech, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. Where I am about to go you cannot follow. Now I must tell you all that you will all desert me and abandon me.”

The disciples began to talk among themselves and began denying what Jesus said, swearing that they would not abandon their teacher. Jesus did not speak another word to his disciples. Peter could not take this, he sat up and yelled out, “Jesus, even if everyone here were to abandon you, I never will. I will die for you.”

Jesus looked up at Peter and responded, “Peter, do not lie to me. Before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times.” Peter was stunned. Three times he would deny his Rabbi? His king? His Messiah? It could not happen. Jesus spoke truths all the time, but he could not be right this time.

Jesus stood up. The supper was completed. “Come,” Jesus began, “we must go.” Without taking anything, the disciples and Jesus walked out. Jesus went toward Gethsemane. It was time to complete the sacrifice.

10:30 P.M.

The group of twelve reached the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had spent his time comforting his disciples, but it was he who needed the comforting. Jesus felt so much turmoil on him. Nightmares that he experienced returned to him all at once. He staggered as they walked through. It felt like a burden too heavy to bear. The world was relying on him. Failure now would be devastating.

Jesus turned to the disciples. “My burden is too heavy to bear. Please, stay here and pray for me. James, John, and Peter, I wish for you to come with me a little further.” Eight of the disciples stopped following Jesus. The other three came with Jesus a little farther.

A few yards away from the rest, Jesus turned to his remaining disciples, “Now stay here an pray for me.” The three sat down without a word. Jesus went ahead.

A rock was up ahead. Jesus dropped down and laid his arms across it. “Father, the time has come. Glorify you Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Jesus continued to pray for the disciples that the Holy Spirit might protect them and remain in faith. He did not pray for those in the world but those who his Father gave him.

The stress began to make him quiver. Jesus nearly fainted over the rock. Sweat rolled down his head. When Jesus looked down, it looked like he had been bleeding. He looked up and it seemed like the world was rolling, but it was him instead. Jesus hurried up his prayer. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one.”

Jesus finished. He began to stand up. His legs shook awfully. He felt like a man who had not eaten for weeks in his life. Staggering his way back to the three, he saw that they were asleep. He went over to Peter. “Could you not stay awake for me? I will return to praying. I urge you to pray for me.” With that, Jesus went back.

Dropping over the rock again, Jesus looked into the starry night. It was so peaceful, but Jesus knew how the universe around him groaned. It was all under a curse. Man was killing man, animal killed animal, plant killed plant. Death screeched all over the earth every second it seemed. Man had ruined everything. And now Jesus had to sacrifice himself for it all.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. But not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus went back to the disciples. They were sleeping again, not realizing how urgent the situation was now.

“Get up, I need you to pray.” Jesus begged James, Peter, and John. They awoke again and returned to praying. Their prayers were calm and relaxed, unlike Jesus’. Jesus returned to the rock a third time.

“Father if you are willing remove this cup from me –” Jesus prayed. Before he finished, he felt Satan come from behind.

“Yes, Jesus, ask your Father what else there is,” Satan tempted smoothly, “Think about it, Jesus. You are about to die, and for what? The souls of a few billion men? You do know that you will lose most of the world to me. They all hate you and they all rebel against you. Give up this losing fight.”

“Father, if there is any other way –” Jesus prayed again.

“Exactly, Jesus. Now, you will know that there is nothing besides your sacrifice that can bring atonement. Look up to your Father now. Cry out, ‘Now I see how worthless these humans are. They are not worth the price that we must pay. We can wipe them out and instead create a new race. One that cares for us –’”

“You lie, Satan. You will only continue to provoke creations into their death.”

“That is my point. You and the other two of you are in a losing war. Evil is too great a reward for anyone to deny. Only a few actually choose to live, you yourself said that. Give up and watch as your creation is crushed by its own burden. Give it what it truly deserves.”

“Father, I know that there is no other way to save mankind.”

“Yes, go on.”

“But not my will, but yours be done.” Suddenly, a sword from an angel blew Satan back. An angel was sent from God to comfort Jesus. Satan could not tempt Jesus away.

Wiping the wound he received, Satan yelled out, “Then I will enjoy watching your suffering!” Satan flew off. The angel turned to Jesus and calmed him.

“Satan is no longer here. Take heart, my God.” With that, the angel disappeared.

10:50 P.M.

The disciples and Jesus were gathered together. As the disciples slept, Jesus looked out for the coming centurions. He heard commotion coming from behind. The torches of the small army of Romans and temple guards illuminated the woods in the forest.

Jesus turned to the sleeping disciples. “Wake up, for now my traitor is here.” Confused by Jesus’ words and the conversations of the army, the disciples awoke quickly.

Suddenly, some centurions and assistants to Caiaphas broke from behind the tree line. In front of them, the face of Judas appeared. The disciples staggered back. They knew that someone was foretold to betray Jesus, but Judas was so quiet most of the time, why would he be the one?

Meanwhile, Judas went over to the leading centurion. “The one I will kiss on the cheek is he. When I do so, he is yours.” The centurion pulled a sack from his belt. The clanking sound of thirty silver coins came from it.

“The Roman empire is grateful for your allegiance.” The centurion thanked Judas. Pocketing the sack, Judas went straight to Jesus.

“Rabbi.” Judas whispered. He kissed Jesus on the cheek.

Jesus turned to Judas and sighed, “Judas, you would betray me with a kiss?”

“There he is! Arrest him!” The centurions ordered. The soldiers, guards, and assistants ran towards the group. With only two swords and whatever they could hold, the disciples ran back. Jesus looked around. Fighting burst out between the disciples and soldiers. In the fray, Judas slithered into the forest, too happy to see the violence he caused.

Peter, holding one of the two swords, went after a young man, one of Caiaphas’ attendants. With a quick slice, Peter chopped off the boy’s right ear. The scream halted the rest of the fighting. Jesus ran to the two.

Pushing Peter out of the way, he yelled out to everyone, “Put your swords away! Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled. This is your hour — when darkness reigns.”

Dismayed, the disciples all ran away. They all abandoned Jesus. Alone, Jesus was apprehended and bound by the Romans. They pushed him onward to see Caiaphas.

12:30 A.M.

“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’” One of the Pharisees accused. Jesus stood alone, still bound by his ropes. None of the priests or leaders was giving consistent evidence against Jesus. It did not matter to them. Jesus was already a condemned man.

Caiaphas dismissed the Pharisee. Amused with himself, the Pharisee sat down in another seat. Caiaphas turned to Jesus, who was staring down at the ground. “Well,” Caiaphas began, “give us your answer.”

Jesus did not say a word.

“Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” Caiaphas asked, hoping for an answer that would surely condemn Jesus to death.

Jesus remained silent.

Knowing that the “evidence” was not enough to condemn Jesus to death, Caiaphas got out of his seat and came up to Jesus’ face. “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Caiaphas asked.

Jesus looked straight into the eyes of the high priest. “I am,” he answered, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Taking his ornamented staff, Caiaphas hit Jesus on the side of his neck. Crippled by the blow, Jesus fell to the floor. Caiaphas tore his robe and clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

The Sanhedrin cried out, “Guilty!” and ran to Jesus and began to beat him and spit on him. When they were finished, one of them struck him and mocked, “Prophesy to us, Jesus. I’d love to know this one: Will your Father come down and save you or will He let you die?” The man spit on him one last time. The guards came up to Jesus and carried him out the door with the Pharisees and Sadducees giving a loud boo.

12:32 A.M.

Peter awaited Jesus’ return from the Sanhedrin. Surely, he assumed, they wouldn’t be able to find him guilty. His mind told him otherwise. He was really there to see Jesus being dragged from the Sanhedrin a dead man.

‘This makes no sense,’ Peter wondered, ‘I thought Jesus would surely be sacrificing the lamb God gave us. Did Judas stop this? What will we do?’

Peter laid some more coals on the fire in front of him. It heated up, illuminating Peter’s face better. When a servant girl turned around, she pointed at Peter and accused him. “You were with that Nazarene, Jesus, weren’t you?”

Surprised and scared for his life, Peter stumbled, “No, I do not know whom you are talking about.” Peter walked away from the fire towards the gates of the courtyard.

A man came up to him. Immediately noticing Peter, he struck him on the face. “You sliced my friend’s ear off when your rabbi was being taken away!” He yelled at Peter. “You are one of Jesus’ disciples!”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied. He ran away from the gates.

A man came up and accused him. “Surely you are one of them, your accent gives you away.” Peter staggered back as he realized that everyone who was in the courtyard was accusing him. Servant girls, common men, and guards called out against him.

Peter yelled out to them all, “May I be cursed eternally if I am lying. I do not know the man!”

A rooster crowed. Peter stopped and looked at the Sanhedrin doors. They opened and pushed out Jesus. Time moved slowly as Jesus turned his head to look at Peter. The words Jesus promised would come about filled his head.

‘I’ve denied Jesus three times. I’ve abandoned him…’ Peter thought. The guards took Jesus out the gates. Peter dropped onto his knees and cried out, “I know the man!”

3:45 A.M.

Judas sat himself against a wall. He received the news. The Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus to death.

‘What have I done?’ Judas asked himself. ‘I’ve betrayed Jesus. I have betrayed my teacher. I know I’ve betrayed my Messiah.’ Satan was still inside him.

Eager to take two lives, Satan whispered to Judas, “How could you, traitor? Thirty silver coins, the price of slaves. You have treated your master like a slave. You haughty man, now you should pay the price.”

Judas thought to himself, ‘I don’t even deserve to live if I’ve done this. Now the world cannot receive the sacrifice of the Lamb of God…’

Satan responded, “Exactly. You haven’t just condemned your master, but you have condemned the whole world to death. You aren’t worthy of living anymore. You’re nothing but a shell of a man. You are devious and sinful. Those are the least of your vices.”

Judas picked himself up. Perhaps if he gave back the silver, the leaders would let Jesus go. As quick as his feet could carry him, Judas ran for the Sanhedrin. Running past everyone in his way, Judas thought that he could perhaps make things right now, despite the need for his punishment.

Passing the gates, he came up to the doors and rushed through. To his amazement, only two Pharisees remained. Grabbing the sack carrying the money in it, Judas yelled out, “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood. Take this back please!”

The Pharisees turned to him. “What are your wishes to us now? You’re worth nothing to anyone. Get out of here Judas!”

“Take the money anyway!” Judas tossed the thirty silver pieces. The sack split apart and the coins flew everywhere. The Pharisees were surprised to see that Judas gave back the money. When they looked up, Judas was gone.

4:00 A.M.

‘I do not deserve to have been a disciple.’ Judas thought. He remembered when Jesus picked him. It was a surprise to everyone. What good would Judas do? Judas knew that he was worth nothing. In fact, he was less than nothing. He was a traitor whom nobody loved. He didn’t think that God could now forgive him.

Having stolen a rope, he tied a crude noose. He tied the other end to a branch of a tree that looked out over a cliff. Judas looked at Jerusalem. He remembered about how Jesus said that it was a fallen city. Jesus wept over it. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, perhaps Jerusalem would have been saved from all of their sins. There was nothing now. He condemned the world.

The noose was finished. Judas cried as he realized that he couldn’t fit the noose around his neck. Untying the whole rope, he put in more effort. Nothing would stop him from suicide. He wasn’t worthy of living, he wasn’t even worthy of being born.

Finally, he tied the loop so that it fit snugly around Judas’ neck. He looked down the cleft. Shivering, he began to reconsider his actions.

“No,” Satan yelled in his ear, “you are not worthy of living. You have destroyed Jesus and the world. Now accept your death. You won’t have to face the fear from God or society here.” Judas agreed, not listening to the Holy Spirit begging for him to stop and wait.

It felt like there was no more choice for him. Crying as he overlooked Jerusalem again, he took a step. His body fell down the cliff quickly. The tree bent under the weight. A snap of a neck, and it was finished.

6:00 A.M.

The scourging felt as if it would not cease.

‘When will this end? Father, please hurry if you would.’ Jesus thought. Another whip beat down on his back. Bone and iron along with the leather tore through his back. Jesus could hardly bear another whip crack. He knew, though, that the crowd wasn’t satisfied.

“Hold off. He’s had enough scourging. Balius, bring the crown for the mighty ‘king.’” The man heard snickering. Feeling the soldiers grabbing him, the man was flipped onto his back. His back hit the stone path. Seeing that the crown was actually a knitted batch of thorns, the man cringed. The soldier, whom he assumed was Balius, took great care that he didn’t pinch himself with the thorns, which were whittled so they could be as sharp as possible. The thorns lay on his scalp. Soon, the soldiers used two long poles to push the thorns down the sides of his head. Jesus nearly cried out but had no breath. The thorns bore into the sides of his skull. Blood welled from the wounds and flowed into his eyes. Jesus tried to lift up his arms so he could wipe the blood out, but it was far too weak. He had to bear it.

It was the nightmare again. Only this time Jesus would not wake up to John’s hope-filled voice. A swift kick brought him back to reality.

“Wake up, ‘Messiah.’” A guard growled. “It’s time for you to be brought before Pilate.”

Jesus, still badly bruised from last night’s beatings by the priests and guards, began to crawl his way to the door. The guard grabbed his garment. “Walk!” He yelled. Jesus was flung forward. Slowly, he began to stand up. The crowds outside the cell were booing. It sounded as if all of Judea was calling out for his death. The nightmare, the real nightmare, was beginning.

‘This is truly the only way that man will be saved from his sins. Father, give me strength to make it through.’ Jesus prayed. He stopped walking. The guard opened the door in front of him. Pilate awaited.

Wednesday

9:00 A.M.

While it was spring, the air had a distinct chill in it. Clouds covered the landscape. Certainly, it foreboded bad tidings. A small group of people awoke in Bethany. Because they had eaten their fill last night, there was going to be no morning meal. As one man awoke, he took a long breath. He remembered the smell. They had been asleep in a leper’s house. Simon was his name, he remembered. He heard yawning from behind. Turning around, he saw his brother awaking.

“Good morning to you James,” the man smiled, “how’d you sleep?”

“Better then when we’re out on the road, Andrew.” James lazily replied. With a packed room, the movements of one man caused a chain reaction. Other men awoke, Matthew, John, Peter, and Judas. Andrew was concerned for Judas. He left last night and came back extremely late. He didn’t even bring anything back. Something was a little suspicious.

‘No, Judas is one of teacher’s disciples. Why do something suspicious?’ Andrew asked himself. He saw as his rabbi, Jesus, awaken. Unlike the others, Jesus quickly awoke.

The wind blew through an opening in the wall, making everyone shiver. Simon the Leper walked over and put up an old worn out sheet. Thoughts ran through Andrew’s head. Today, Jesus and the disciples would return to Jerusalem. He remembered Nicodemus’ ominous words. The Pharisees were bent on murdering Jesus. He felt afraid for his rabbi, the others, and himself. They had to return, though. After all, Jesus promised that the lamb from God was coming to Jerusalem.

9:30 A.M.

When everyone had readied himself, they walked out of Simon’s door. The disciples all agreed that their views on Simon had changed drastically over night. When they had arrived yesterday, no one was comfortable coming into a leper’s house, but now they understood more about their host. Simon was just as human as they were.

Despite their new understanding, all night Philip had expected that Jesus would heal Simon. Neither Jesus nor Simon mentioned at all about healing. Simon simply escorted them out the door and Jesus thanked him for his hospitality.

As they were walking away from Simon’s house, Philip looked back. Their former host waved his right hand. Philip shivered as he looked at the missing hand on his left side. Philip sighed, it did not make sense. So many people were healed instantly, why wasn’t Simon healed?

Philip turned to Peter, who was next to him as they walked away. “Peter, do you think that Jesus should have healed Simon? He hosted us the whole night.” Peter looked back at Simon. He observed the poor, unclean man.

Turning back to Philip, he whispered, “I think that Simon will be the first to join rabbi’s kingdom.”

Philip looked back one last time. He saw as Simon closed his door.

9:15 A.M.

Hunger didn’t take its time to set upon the group. Soon it became common that someone’s stomach would growl every other minute. Unfortunately, there was nothing that they could pick fruit off of. It was still too early in the warm season for vegetation to grow.

Even Jesus felt hungry as they walked along the road. He wished that there were something that would sustain him before they went into Jerusalem. It seemed as they approached the city that they would need to buy something.

Suddenly on their right, they saw a fig tree. It was finished blooming and had grown all of its leaves back. Everyone immediately went over. Jesus was the first to look. To his disappointment, no figs had grown.

“May you never bear fruit again.” Jesus cursed. He stepped back.

The disciples were confused. Why curse a tree? Their minds went back to the tree as suddenly it began to wither. The leaves fell off, the roots came up and dried out. Soon, the tree was petrified. It uprooted and fell over with a great crash.

The disciples were shocked at how quickly the tree died. Simon spoke up first, “How did this tree whither so quickly?”

Jesus turned around and answered, “Have faith in God.” With that, Jesus walked away from the fig tree, followed slowly by his disciples. Jesus thought about the future. So many of his “followers” would be revealed because of their lack of fruit. They will whither and die just like the tree.

12:00 P.M.

The disciples were expectant. Surely the Jews would welcome him again just as they did the other day. To their surprise, the city continued what it was doing as Jesus entered through the gates. Only a few noticed and followed Jesus. It felt strange. Days ago, the Jews greeted Jesus as an honored king. Now he was Jesus the rabbi from Nazareth again.

‘They must have been disappointed that Jesus never declared himself king.’ Thomas thought.

Jesus and his disciples kept their walk until they once again came into the temple grounds. No market was set up here, but to the disciples’ exasperation, a few Pharisees and Sadducees were there. They seemed to expect Jesus.

Walking away from the temple, they came up to Jesus, pondering difficult questions to answer. One of them pulled out a coin with Tiberius’ picture on it.  Some of the Pharisees had gone over to a few Herodians. Bringing them along, they stepped in front of Jesus.

“Jesus,” one of them began, “we know that you are a man of integrity. Now tell us, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus looked over at the Herodians. One of them had their hand on the hilt on their sword. Seeing that the Pharisees were about to trap him, Jesus answered, “Whose picture is that on your coin?”

The Pharisees were confused and then picked up their coin. They replied, “Caesar’s.”

“Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The Herodians gave the Pharisees a look and then left.

Surprised but not less determined, a Sadducee asked, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” The Pharisees smiled and nodded. Certainly, this would confound Jesus.

“You are in error because you do not know anything about the Scriptures or the power of God. No one will be married when they are resurrected. They will be like the angels in heaven.” Again, the Sadducees were frustrated. Some of the people in the crowd chuckled at how clever and truthful Jesus’ answers were to them. The Sadducees were finished. They all stormed off, leaving only the Pharisees.

Thinking on his feet, since it didn’t seem that any specific question could stumble Jesus, a Pharisee asked, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.” The Pharisees paused.

Despite all of their questions, they could never answer Jesus. They were embarrassed enough. Following the Sadducees, the Pharisees walked away. Jesus saw them walk away. He turned to his disciples and those who followed him.

Jesus said to them, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” The crowd agreed loud enough. The Pharisees and Sadducees tensed. They had lost all support from the Jews.

2:00 P.M.

“He is the most frustrating man alive!” A Sadducee yelled out. The Sanhedrin was in an uproar again over Jesus’ answers. Their hearts were hardened more. Without any support left by a majority of Judea, they began to return to the question of how they could kill Jesus.

As they were thinking more and more cruel ideas, a knock was heard. Caiaphas motioned to the guards to open the doors. When they did, the Pharisees and Sadducees were angered. A disciple of Jesus entered. Behind him were a few Sadducees from Bethany. Confusion swept the leaders.

“Who are you, disciple of Jesus?” Caiaphas asked.

“My name is Judas Iscariot. I will give you Jesus for a good reward.” The leaders were surprised. A disciple of Jesus came in just handing Jesus over without needing a preceding bribe.

“Good,” Caiaphas replied, “Now, let’s talk about your reward. How about thirty pieces of gold?”

“No,” a Pharisee disagreed, “Jesus is not worth that much. How about thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave?” The leaders laughed, but they did not believe that Judas would agree.

“I accept the silver.” The leaders and Caiaphas were confused. Judas continued, “Don’t worry, you’ll receive Jesus by tomorrow. Then he’s yours.” Judas left and closed the doors behind him.

The Sanhedrin was quiet. Caiaphas smiled. His prophecy was coming about. His plan was working…

Satan smiled too…

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