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?
In today’s reading, Marcus is among the detail of soldiers assigned to welcome Herod the Tetrarch to Jerusalem. As the royal procession is about to enter the city a disturbing incident takes place that reveals the character of the man that Jesus called a fox.
Suddenly, just ahead, among the bowing throng, a small copper bowl flashed in the sun. I sucked in a shallow breath and hoped it had gone unnoticed.
Herod’s hand shot out from the left side of the litter, just a few feet above and ahead of my horse’s ears.
“There! There!” he yelled. “Stop the litter!”
Flavio bellowed, “Halt!”
“Bring the boy over.” Herod gestured to the bodyguard next to me.
The guard beckoned with his hand, and the once crippled Lucas stepped forward. He wore a shy smile, but there was an eager glint in his eye.
“Is that a beggar’s bowl in your hand?” the king inquired.
“I didn’t come to feed beggars,” Herod said coldly. “Now, teach this boy not to beg from a king.” Herod again gestured to the guard.
With one hand the guard grabbed the boy’s free hand. With the other hand he raised his gleaming sword above his head.
With sudden terror in his eyes, Lucas instinctively yanked back.
The blade flashed down.
The boy fell back into the crowd as the guard triumphantly raised the severed, dripping hand above his head.
“Well done, Cestas!” Herod cheered. “Well done!”
I saw Lucas flee, white- faced and stumbling, clutching tight the bleeding stump.
“There are no beggars in Galilee,” the Fox announced to the crowd. “And if I ruled here, there would be none in Jerusalem.”
The onlookers were stunned—riveted to the spot. Herod paused, and after a brief search he pulled out the flimsy purple robe from among the cushions behind him. He made a great show of folding it carefully several times.
“Bring me your trophy.”
Cestas came forward and placed the small, severed hand in the folds of the purple robe, bowing graciously to his monarch.
“Ah, tribute for the governor.” Herod laughed coarsely. “Let’s be off!”
The remainder of the processional was uneventful. Following the trumpeters’ fanfare, Pontius Pilate and his wife, Claudia Procula, received the tetrarch graciously, with considerable pomp. The Roman governor politely inquired about the journey and made flattering comments about Herodias and her attire.
American readers click this link to purchase The Soldier Who Killed a King.