A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
Date: Five forty-five in the morning, Friday, April 7 A.D.
In today’s reading, a messenger from Pontius Pilate arrives at the home of Marcus Longinus, the Roman centurion, with the news that Jesus has been arrested.
“Sir, I have just come from the governor. You are to report to the Praetorium immediately. Jesus of Nazareth has been arrested. The high priest has brought him before the governor for judgment.”
“Is that so?” I said in a state of consternation. “Who sent you?”
“The governor himself. He said you were familiar with the Galilean.”
I blew a short puff of air through my nostrils. All of Jerusalem was somewhat familiar with the Galilean.
“So he wants me there immediately?”
“Immediately, sir.” He shifted from one foot to the other and then, as if to justify this response, he added, “The high priest and a big delegation, maybe three hundred men, maybe more, arrived at the palace door at first light. They had the prisoner—Jesus—with them.”
“Tell the governor I’m on my way.”
With a quick nod of my head, I dismissed the messenger. Instantly he turned and began his run back to the governor’s residence. I took one step back inside the gate and began barking orders.
“You, you, and you!” I stabbed my index finger in the direction of the most dressed and prepared-looking soldiers. “Strap on your swords and follow me. Now!”
Then, addressing the other soldiers, I announced, “The rest of you, meet me at the Praetorium as soon as you are ready.”
“Claudius”—I nodded in his direction—“you are in charge. I’ll give everyone their assignment for the day when they get there.”
I stepped back through the gate and began covering the ground with long, quick strides. My three recruits had to run to catch up. With each stride a new thought came jogging into my head. Stupid Arius! Why didn’t he tell me the messenger was from Pilate? I would have moved a good deal faster.
Obviously my concerns about the prophet had moved up the chain of command. Flavio must have informed Pilate about my worries and the actions I had taken, hence this unusual move—a direct summons by the governor. I harbored the hope that he would consult directly with me on the matter. Three hundred men! Three hundred men at first light? The Weasel must have had a busy night. It takes a good deal of effort to set your troops in array. Caiaphas must have been hatching this plot for a good long while.
But the Weasel caught his prey! What a sweet bit of treachery that must have been. I wondered how he pulled that off. Now the high priest would move in for the kill. We would see if he could slaughter his own Passover lamb. The people! If the pilgrims, especially the Galilean pilgrims, knew their Messiah had been seized, there could be a mass revolt. That must be why the Weasel had done his dirty work in the dark of the night. And furthermore, he had played out this drama at the zenith of the festival, while minds and hearts were on faith, home, and family. Here was a cunning scheme worthy of the Fox, played out by the Weasel.
Undoubtedly most of the population would still be unaware of these developments, even as I had been caught off guard. Off guard but not surprised. I could smell this coming.
My conversation with Renaldo at the bathhouse came echoing back. It gave me an eerie feeling knowing I had spoken like some prophetic oracle. It made me wonder from where that insight had really come.
“By Jupiter! I forgot the spikes.” I wheeled around while reaching out my hand to halt the soldier at my side. Addressing him directly, I said, “I forgot them—the spikes. They’re in a pouch hanging on a peg in my bedchamber. My wife, she’ll know where they are. Ask her to get the pouch for you. Then bring it to me at the Praetorium. Oh, and tell the other men to hurry. This is urgent.” I fixed my eyes on him to stress the importance of this last statement and then added, “Now run.”
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