Addi was sitting at a table with his father, listening and cherishing every word that came out of his mouth. It had been a long time since he had heard his father speaking, but now the memory of his father's voice was as clear as if it were yesterday. He remembered the day, now 16 years ago, that he had gone into his office and asked him what he was reading, and his father said the book of Isaiah.
"Why?" Addi asked, knowing now it was the same question every child his age asked when they did not understand the response. His father smiled.
"I'm trying to understand God's future plans for us," his father replied.
"Why?" Addi asked as he put his hands on the table and leaned forward to look at the scroll unrolled in front of his father.
"So we don't miss anything important," his father said and then seeing another "why" coming, he quickly headed it off with his own question. "Do you want to hear it?" Addi nodded. "This is the area that I'm trying to understand, perhaps you can help me with it," his father said and Addi suddenly became very attentive.
"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."1
His father looked up from the scroll to see if Addi had grasped anything from it.
"Who is he talking about?" Addi remembered asking his father, who shrugged briefly.
"That is a great question Addi. I believe he is speaking about the coming Messiah," his father replied and waited as he watched Addi wrestle with how to respond.
"It's so sad," Addi replied. "Why does he have to die for everyone else?" Addi asked and then slid off his chair and walked around the desk to where his father sat and put his arms around him. Addi remembered him sitting there, deep in thought, and then reaching down to embrace him and kiss him on top of his head.
"I think you're right Addi. I think you're right," he replied distantly.
As Addi walked out of his father's office, he suddenly remembered that he would be murdered that very night. The memory jerked him awake and he stood up to yell a warning, but realized his father was no longer across from him. It was just a dream, and now he stood in a dark room.
Addi tried to remember where he was. He saw the chair and vaguely recognized the room, but it took a moment to grasp how and why he was here. Then it all came back to him in a fast-flowing river of memories. Calming himself, he looked around the room. Rubbing his stiff neck, he realized that he must have fallen asleep in the chair. He saw two of the three lamps had burned through their oil, but there were slivers of light reflecting on one of the walls that more than made up for the darkness. What time of day was it? Addi wondered and moved to one of the closed windows. He remembered he was supposed to remain hidden, so he fought the urge to throw it open. Instead, he opened it just a crack and got his bearings by looking at the various structures in Jerusalem. The sun was still in the East, but it was close to the middle of the day and realized he had slept a long time.
As Addi glanced up and down the streets, he was surprised by the lack of people. For a Friday on Passover week, the day before the Sabbath evening, the streets were almost empty. Where was Lycus? He wondered. He was supposed to send an update on Jesus. In the distance, he could hear voices, and he saw a man wave toward another across the street from him, apparently recognizing him. The man crossed the street to join his friend as they continued down the street away from the heart of the city, passing below the window.
"Did they kill Jesus?" one man asked the other, but the man shook his head.
"Essentially, yes, they crucified him and some others so he's just as good as dead in time," the man replied as they continued down the street.
"Well, I guess he wasn’t the Messiah," the man replied as the voices faded into the distance.
Addi stood staring out the window, trying to think of what he should do. If what the men below said was true, Hadar had somehow managed to get the Romans to crucify Jesus. Addi walked over, sat down in the chair, and put his head in his hands and tried to concentrate on all the emotions and feelings running through him.
Some others, one of them had said. Had they captured Cleopas and Lycus too? His mind suddenly thought about all the disciples who had been with Jesus in the temple courts. Had they been crucified, too? His heart sank at the thought of the young woman who was always on his mind, being crucified. Had they captured all of them? Was he the only one left? He wrestled with the idea of fleeing the city, but had no desire to run from Hadar and give him the satisfaction. If he stayed where he was, and they had captured and killed all of Jesus' disciples, then it was only a matter of time before they came for him here. He finally made the decision to visit Golgotha in secret, where he knew they performed their crucifixions.
Addi opened the 'exit' closet Lycus had shown him and saw the clothes hanging there. Following his training from Lycus and Cleopas, he removed his finer clothes, putting on something very common in appearance, making sure the cloak had a hood. Once dressed, he stepped into the closet, pulled the lever and pushed with his foot. It took several attempts to time it correctly, but eventually the top of the wall started leaning out with pressure. Looking through the cracks on both sides of the partially opened panel, Addi took a moment to make sure there was no one in the alley below or on the streets, then pushed the top down until it rested on the nearby roof across the alley. He gingerly walked across the panel, stepped onto the roof, and watched as the panel slowly rose back into place.
Standing there, he realized he would not be able to get back into Lycus' house again. He shook his head realizing a dead man did not need a place to sleep. He turned and headed across the roof, jumping across to the next roof and finally to the third one. As he stared at the distance to the fourth roof, he knew Lycus was right; there was no way he could make that leap. Looking down, he saw an awning below, lowered himself down to it, then jumped to the ground.
Once on the ground, Addi adjusted his hood and started walking north through the city toward Golgotha. As he passed through the lower city and into the upper city, the day’s events were the talk of the town. Although he wanted to get to Golgotha quickly, he wanted to learn as much as he could about what had happened since last night. He would stop briefly to listen in on a conversation and then would continue more urgently than before. It all seemed so strange to Addi, as most people seemed excited and happy to be rid of Jesus. It was just a few days earlier they were calling Hosanna to the King. Now they were cheering for his death. Addi realized Hadar had accomplished his goal in having the people be the sword that killed Jesus so the priestly order would not be directly guilty of murder. "What hypocrites," Addi mumbled as he walked.
He purposely avoided the street that passed by his former home and swung wide around Herod's palace until he reached the Corner gate that led to Golgotha, beyond the walls. It was past noon and still the road was filled with people, although many were now heading back to the city. As Addi looked toward the hill of Golgotha, he could see the three figures who had been crucified rising above the people who were gathered around below them. With a heavy heart, he tried to distinguish them, but was too far away.
Addi followed the road that passed by the hill and then moved off it, working his way through the crowds toward the base of the hill where three men hung, their arms outstretched. Although their faces were easy to see, he did not recognize either of the two men who were crucified on either side of the bloodied man in the middle. There was a crude sign placed above his head on which was written the charges against him, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."2 Addi had never seen so much blood and bruised and battered flesh on a man before. His face was swollen and cut beyond recognition from violent beatings. Addi could see he had been flogged brutally as well, with strips of flesh hanging from his back and sides. As if the sign hanging above him was not enough to mock him, a crown of thorns had been created for him to wear and forced down into his head. The thorns tore into his forehead, creating an endless flow of blood down his face, matting his hair. Spikes had been driven into his outstretched wrists to hold them in place on the beam and a single spike had been driven through the tops of his feet. Addi had learned that placing the nail through the feet was a cruel joke for anyone crucified. To be able to breathe, a person had to endure the pain of trying to stand to take pressure off the outstretched arms and chest. It was a slow and agonizing death. Like all things the Romans did, they had perfected torture through crucifixion.
As Addi stood nearby, he looked through the crowd of people gathered around the three crucified men. Some were cheering or yelling insults as they passed by. Most would mock Jesus. A group of Pharisees was exceptionally cruel as they rejoiced in their accomplishment.
"You, who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"3 one Pharisee yelled while those around him laughed and patted him on the back.
"He saved others, but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him. He said, 'I am the Son of God."4 and more laughter followed. Then something strange happened, darkness slowly started to creep across the horizon.
At first, Addi thought it was just a reflection of what he was feeling, but then he saw others notice it and begin to talk about it, also. As the darkness grew, the mocking and laughter decreased until there was just an eerie silence.
Suddenly Jesus lifted his head and cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The crowds of people began to mumble in fear.
"He's calling Elijah," someone nearby said loudly. Someone else ran forward and dipped a sponge in wine and placed it on the end of a stick, trying to get Jesus to moisten his tongue, but he either refused or was unable.
"Leave him alone," one of the Pharisees said nervously. "Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."5 Although he smiled at his own comment, no one else did.
Several long moments passed without a word being spoken as the darkness continued to grow until Addi felt torches would soon be needed if they were to see. People were beginning to mumble in concern, when suddenly Jesus raised his head one more time and cried out, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Then his head lowered to his chest and his body hung limp.6
As his voice echoed across the darkness, suddenly the ground shook with such force boulders broke free from the hillside, scattering people as they rolled downward. People were screaming, crying, and beating their chests as the earth continued to shake. Addi could even see the Pharisees who had been mocking Jesus were now standing in terror at what was happening. Then it was over.7
As the dust settled from the shaking of the earth, the darkness slowly began to fade into the light of day. One of the Centurions on guard at the foot of Jesus’ cross, turned to the crowd of people with a terrified look on his face.
"Surely, he was the Son of God," he exclaimed, but no one answered. Instead, the people nervously gathered their items and began walking briskly back toward the city walls and gates of Jerusalem.8
The crowds quickly dispersed, as Addi stood there, looking up at the body of Jesus, while tears ran down his face. The Centurion was right in what he said; the people who had gathered and cheered for his death now knew it also. He cried for the loss of a great man and teacher, for the loss of the Messiah who would have saved them all, for the people of Israel who had killed their own savior, for his failure to stop the death, and for the end of his own dreams. Knowing it was over, he fell to his knees and cried.
It was much later he heard the voices of the two men hanging on either side of Jesus pleading with a Centurion below them. Addi saw the soldier use a club to shatter the legs of the two men, and heard the horrible screams that followed. Death would come quickly now that they could no longer push themselves up for air. Another soldier stood before Jesus’ limp body and poked it with the tip of his spear, with no reaction. Then he thrust the spear under Jesus' rib cage and blood and water gushed out, causing the soldier to jump back from the sudden flow.9
Once the two other men's lives had finally passed, they removed the nail that had been driven into their feet, and then used poles to lift the crossbeams they were nailed to from the slots on top of the posts. They dropped the crossbeam and bodies onto the ground. Once there, they pried loose the nails that had been driven through their wrists and tossed the bodies into the back of a nearby wagon. Then they returned and stood staring at Jesus, as if discussing what to do. As Addi watched them, he realized they were far more careful and respectful to Jesus' body, carefully laid him in the back of the wagon.
Then one of the soldiers gently removed the crown of thorns from his head, as if Jesus was still alive and they were trying not to hurt him further. Once it had been removed, the soldier tossed it away. Landing on its edge, it slowly began to roll down the hill toward Addi, picking up speed as it went and angling toward where he was kneeling.
Addi did not even try to move out of its way, as the blood and thorn covered crown came to a sudden halt, striking his thigh. As the thorns pushed their points through his robe and into his flesh, Addi knew the pain he felt was minor compared to what Jesus must have felt. He reached down and untangled it from his robe and held it in front of him and closed his eyes. The closest the Savior of the World got to his Kingdom was a crown of thorns, Addi thought as tears once again flowed down his face.
"It will be yours to wear shortly," a distantly familiar voice stated and Addi opened his eyes.
The sight of the man and woman standing before him, made his heart race and memories of his childhood run through his mind. He wanted to jump to his feet and embrace them, but he did not want the image to disappear. Instead he remained where he was and smiled at the illusion before him, taking in every detail of them.
"Your mother and I are so proud of you and the choices you have made," Addi's father said and smiled as his mother nodded. The joyful emotions of the sight and sound of his parents battled with the emotions of heartache that he had just witnessed. There were so many of each that Addi could not speak and all he could do was release another flow of tears.
"No, don't cry my beautiful son, without his sacrifice; we would never have been able to see each other. I know you don't understand now, but it was all worth it," his mother said and reached out and touched his cheek and ran her hands through his hair as she had done when he was just a boy.
"Finish what we started son and never stop believing. His kingdom is almost at hand," his father said and then looked around and nodded. "We've only been given a moment, and you are the only person we wanted to see," his father said.
"We love you Addi and will be waiting for you," his mother added, and he closed his eyes and nodded, praying that they could stay longer.
"This one is His, but wear yours proudly," his father said and Addi nodded as he felt the pain fade from his hands where he once held the crown of thorns. He opened his eyes to see that his father and mother were no longer there. The bloody crown of thorns was also gone, but the blood remained on his robe and hands. The joy of the moment faded, and his heart ached once more as it mixed with his confusion. He wished he could have told them how much he missed them and loved them, but he knew it was only a dream.10
Addi recognized the voice of the Pesachya member who was quietly saying his name. He once knew him as a friend, but now he no longer knew whom to trust. He thought briefly about running, but did not feel he had the heart or energy to do so. Instead, he just stood up and turned around to see two men standing behind him.
"Hello, Joseph, Nicodemas," Addi nodded toward each man and waited to see what was to follow. As he looked at their faces, he could only see a deep sadness, the same sadness he felt. Joseph had also been crying, and Nicodemas was breathing heavily.
"It looks as though Hadar has successfully killed the Messiah," Addi added and both men nodded. "Do you think he realizes it now?" Addi asked. Joseph looked at Nicodemas and then back at Addi.
"The moment Jesus died, Nicodemas said the temple curtain separating the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom, and it happened right in front of Hadar. Apparently, Hadar said he saw the hands of God do it and then saw people walking about that had long been dead,"10 Joseph said and Nicodemas nodded.
"As a result of everything, Hadar is currently in an almost catatonic state, mumbling incoherently and the priestly order at the temple is in a panic. Nicodemas ran to tell me this before Hadar could recover, bury the facts, or use the earthquake as an excuse."
Addi tried to grasp the meaning or significance of this event, but was not grasping it. Nicodemas apparently saw his confusion.
"Addi, the curtain is four inches thick and only God could have torn it in two. If God tore it in two, then there is more to it than just an accident," Nicodemas said between breaths.
"Like what?" Addi asked and it was Nicodemas' turn to look perplexed.
"I don't know," Nicodemas said and shrugged. "Only the High Priest is allowed to pass beyond it, but it really has Caiaphas rattled right now, and Hadar is in hiding," Nicodemas said with a veiled smile.
The creak of the wagon wheels returned Addi’s attention to the moment. Seeing the bodies being delivered back to the city, he suddenly turned toward Joseph.
"Don't let Hadar or Herod desecrate Jesus' body or try to parade it around town in his victory tour," Addi stated and Joseph nodded.
"I will go and ask Pilate in person. If he grants my request, I will place him in my own tomb," Joseph replied.
"I'll go with you," Nicodemas said. "Perhaps he will be more apt to give the body to one of the priests?"11
"Thank you," Addi replied and then continued. "I would go with you, but I've done a few things Hadar will not like, so I don't know how long he will allow me to live. However, whether we see each other again or not, make sure you share this information with Jesus' followers. I know they would like to know his body is safe and where he is buried," Addi said with a faint smile.
"What did you…" Joseph started to ask, but was interrupted.
"Don't ask. I'm sure you'll hear about it soon enough." Addi embraced both men before sending them off to catch up with the wagon.
As Addi turned toward town, he saw a group of women in the distance, with their heads covered, watching the wagon as it slowly headed back to town. He thought he recognized several of them as Jesus' disciples he had seen at the temple. As they turned to leave, one of the women looked his direction. She suddenly reached out a hand to touch one of the women leaving and they all stopped and turned to face him. He didn't know what to do or what to say as they stared at each other across the open field. One of them turned and motioned to someone on the backside of the hill, an area Addi could not see over, then turned and walked away from him, disappearing over the same rise.
As Addi contemplated what he should do, he decided to follow them as the best option for him. But when he stepped forward, he saw a hooded man slowly coming into view above the rise. At first, Addi was nervous. Then they recognized each other at about the same time. Addi could see the man shake his head and then start walking down the hill toward him.
"You're not one to follow directions, are you?" Lycus stated and Addi shook his head.
"You never came back, and I heard on the street that they had crucified Jesus and some others… I was concerned that you and the rest of Jesus' disciples were the others," Addi replied and Lycus nodded.
"I'm sorry. Things were happening so fast I never had the time or could spare the people to send word to you," Lycus replied and then glanced around at his surroundings. "The women said you were speaking with a council member and a Pharisee," Lycus stated and waited for a response. Addi realized that in talking with Joseph and Nicodemas it could appear he was working with them since they were following the wagon carrying Jesus' body.
"Joseph is a member of the ruling council, and Nicodemas is a priest. Both are members of the Pesachya group, but they were strongly opposed to Hadar's plan to kill Jesus. Nicodemas came from the temple to tell Joseph that at the same time as Jesus' death, God had torn the temple curtain in two. The priestly order is a little fearful right now," Addi replied.
"I asked them to request Jesus' body from Pilate so Hadar would not desecrate it or use it for show. I figured a council member and a priest would have a better chance at success than I would," Addi ended and Lycus slowly nodded.
"Thank you for that. I know Mary and the other women will be encouraged to hear about your request."
They stood there a moment, as if waiting for a decision to be made.
"What do we do now?" Addi asked and Lycus took a deep breath and then answered.
"We're gathering those that are still faithful to decide what to do next," Lycus replied and patted Addi on the shoulder. "Put your hood up old man. They somehow missed you on your way here. I'm guessing they will again be looking for you, and the rest of us, now that they have killed Jesus," Lycus said. Addi put his hood up, hunched over and took his arm, slowly allowing him to be lead back into the city.
1 Isaiah 53:1-12
2 Matthew 27:37
3 Matthew 27:40
4 Matthew 27:41-43
5 Matthew 27:45-49
6 Luke 23:46
7 Matthew 27:51-52
8 Matthew 27:54
9 John 19:31-34
10 Matthew 27:51-53
11 John 19:38-42