I can’t believe how much noise there is in the square, not the usual noise of merchants hawking their wares. Yelling and angry voices. What’s going on? I round the corner. A huge crowd surrounds who stands on stairs on the other side. I scan the crowd for Mara. All around me, voices murmur.
“They say he performs miracles.”
“He’s possessed of a demon; that’s why he can cast them out.”
“Did you hear he raises people from the dead?”
“I heard he was going to tear down the temple and build it back up in three days. Such nonsense.”
“Sarah, Sarah, over here.”
“Mara, what’s going on?” Pushing past others, I make my way to her side.
Mara’s eyes are wide with fear. “They’ve arrested that man they call Jesus.”
“Mara, I met him one day at the well. He was nice to me and talked to me about God’s love. He seems like a good man.”
The crowd quiets, listening to Pilate. “I find this man guilty of no capital crime. I will order a flogging and release him.”
Angry shouts erupt from the crowd. People shake their fists at Pilate. He speaks again, “Very well then as is the custom, I will release one prisoner. Should I release Jesus or Barabas?”
“Barabas, Barabas, Barabas.”
“Oh Sarah, I can’t believe it. Barabas is a murderer and they want to let him go free. Why? They haven’t proven Jesus guilty of anything as bad.”
“I know Mara, it’s so sad.”
“What should I do with Jesus?” Pilate asks the crowd.
They put a crown of thorns around Jesus’ head. I know where they are taking him and I’m not supposed to go there. My parents don’t allow me to hang out at the Skull like some of the kids do. They said I don’t need to know what happens there, but I know that’s where they take prisoners to die. I know I will get in trouble but I can’t stop myself. I have to see what will happen to the man with the crown of thorns.
Mara and I run to keep with the crowd as they make Jesus carry his heavy wooden cross along the way. People continue talking about him.
Mixed with the angry comments, there is talk of his compassion and how he heals the sick. They talk of love and beauty. Surely, it wasn’t the same man they spoke of earlier.
Jesus falls and I want to help him up. Someone takes his cross. Using my robe, I wipe away the sweat and blood from his face. “Jesus, why is this happening? I can’t believe they are going to kill you for no reason.” Tears flow from my eyes and I can’t stop them.
“Oh, little one, don’t be sad. This is my father’s work. I must do this.” The big brown eyes are full of light and something else. They look the way my daddy’s look when he looks at me. Jesus loves me. Could it be?
“But Jesus, you’ve done no wrong. I don’t want you to go. I want to get to know you more.” As I sob holds me in a tight hug.
Just then, one of the soldiers rips him from my arms. “Move along brat. You don’t need to be here.”
Jesus is pulled away as he says, “Child, do not worry. I will see you again in heaven. I do this for you.”
When we arrive at the Skull two prisoners already hang on wooden crosses. The soldiers nail Jesus to his cross. The hammer pounds the nails deeper and my heart aches.
“Oh Mara, this hurts so much.” I turn to my friend. Tears run down her face.
We sit there for hours on that dusty hill as the crowd taunts Jesus and tells him to save himself. “If you are the King of the Jews take yourself down from the cross.”
I cover my ears to drown out the horror, but it seeps in.
It seems like an eternity when suddenly Jesus cries out, “It is finished.” The sun is blotted out and suddenly it is dark. Mara and I sit and hold each other. As I cry, I remember what Jesus said. He has done this for me. He died a painful, awful death for me. Just so I could be with him in heaven.
We sit there until they take Jesus’ body down and put it in a tomb. The place of the Skull is silent again. Mara and I head home.
Over the next few days, I go about my chores, but can’t stop thinking about Jesus. He said he was doing it for me. I wasn’t sure I understood, but somehow that made my heart happier.
Three days after his death, I go to the well in the early morning hours and a man approaches me. He looks familiar. “Sarah, it’s good to see you.”
“How do you know my name? Do I know you?” I search his face, which is wreathed in bright light. In his eyes, I see love and compassion and I know. “Jesus, is that you? How is it possible? I saw you die.” I run to him and hug him.
“Sarah, you did see me die. But, today I have conquered death. I am as alive as you are and I will soon go to heaven with my father to wait for you.”
Oh my goodness. This is too good to be true. Jesus is alive! “Come with me to tell Mara. She will be so excited.”
“I must go to my friends, but we’ll stop at Mara’s on the way.” Jesus takes my hand.
Jesus is alive! Death could not hold him in the grave!!!