Page 8 - November 2019 - Truth & Tidings
P. 8

n the slanting sunlight of an April   placed on the cross had done nothing
            evening, two soldiers left the Antonia   to relieve his feelings, though there had
        Ifortress in Jerusalem and made their   been some satisfaction in dismissing the
        way outside the city. Moving purposefully,   Jewish leaders’ complaints about calling
        they made their way to the place called   this Man the King of the Jews. Hardly
        Calvary. It was a gruesome spot, stained   had that business been dealt with, when
        with  the  blood  of  countless  criminals   they were back again. This time it was the
        and dappled now by the shadows of the   Sabbath they were worried about. They
        three men who hung on crosses above   didn’t want the bodies to remain on the
        the hillside. It was a familiar scene for   crosses, so could Pilate please attend to the
        the soldiers, and neither the sight of the   matter? Pilate had attended to it, sending
        twisted, agonized bodies nor the sound   two of his soldiers to break the legs of
        of their painful gasping interrupted their   the crucified men, robbing them of their
        conversation.                         ability to draw breath, and hastening their
          They arrived under the first cross. Their   inevitable end.
        task there was over in a flash: the thud   And now someone else was requesting
        of the hammer, the crunch of bone, the   an audience. At least, he reflected, there
        grunt of anguish from the dying man.   was only one of them this time, and Joseph
        They moved to the second cross, and, with   of Arimathaea wasn’t just any Jew. He was
        the same brutal efficiency, the action was   rich, which helped, but it wasn’t just that.
        repeated. Then they came to the center   He was a man of stature – an honorable
        cross. For the first time, their attention   man, someone who could not lightly be
        was really arrested. At this cross all was   dismissed. Pilate had noticed his absence
        silent. Here was no struggle for breath, no   from the earlier gatherings, and was
        gulping of air. The soldiers looked at each   curious to learn what had led him to seek
        other in surprise – could he really be dead   this private audience. He was taken aback
        already? The senior soldier shrugged.   both by Joseph’s demeanor and demand –
        “Best to make sure,” he said, and taking   he “went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved
        his spear, thrust it into the side of the Man   the body of Jesus” (Mar 15:43 KJV). He was
        who hung on the cross, “and forthwith   surprised that so august a man as Joseph
        came there out blood and water” (Joh   would concern himself with the burial of
        19:34).                               Jesus of Nazareth.
          Back in his temporary Praetorium, Pilate   But his real surprise ran deeper: “Pilate
        felt that the day would never end. It had   marvelled if he were already dead” (Mar
        started early and, Pilate was increasingly   15:44). Just a little over six hours had
        aware, had not gone well. At the trial of   passed since He had been nailed to the
        the Man called Jesus, he had allowed the   cross. Crucifixion had been carefully
        Jews to play him, to use the weight of his   calibrated to maximize the suffering of
        own insecurities about his standing with   its victims, by eking out their agony for as
        Caesar against him. He knew he should   long as possible – often days, never such
        not have delivered Jesus to crucifixion.   a short period as this. Suspicion flared
        Even the small act of vindictiveness   in Pilate’s mind – could this be a rescue
        in his wording of the accusation to be   mission? It was not unheard of for victims

        328 TRUTH kTidings   November  2019
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13