“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the roar of the crowd as it comes up the street can be heard from miles away.
“You can’t,” Claudia says, “remember the dream I had last night? Please Pontius, don’t kill him!”
“He has spoken nothing but blasphemy. You must crucify him.” The high priest comes up to me.
“I…” I look to the approaching crowd, but cannot see the man. “Who is this man I must crucify?”
“Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.” The priest says.
“Pontius don’t,” Claudia begs me.
The crowd is barely a block away, still I can’t see Jesus.
“Remember Pontius, you have a job to do,” the high priest says. “You wouldn’t want me to mention this to Caesar, would you?” Then he walks out the door.
“Claudia, I-” but my wife is gone too.
“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the crowds are below my window now.
“Who should I crucify?” I ask them.
“Jesus of Nazareth!” they shout at me.
“Where is this Jesus of Nazareth?” I ask them.
“Here he is,” a Roman soldier brings up a man. He is not threatening, just average. Not angry, just calm.
“What has he done?” I ask them.
“Blasphemy!” they shout, “blasphemy!”
“What do you have to say about this, Jesus of Nazareth?” I call down to the man. He just stands there, like a lamb before the slaughter.
“Do not ask him!” a man shouts.
“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the crowd roars.
I sigh and walk down the stairs to face the mob.
“You’re not going to do it, are you?” Claudia asks me.
“I’ll whip him,” I tell her, “maybe that’ll be enough for them.”
“37, 38, 39, STOP!” I shout at the soldiers, who take delight in this poor man’s misfortune.
“Jesus,” I bend down to speak to the bloody man, “why do you let them do this to you? Speak, Jesus. You have done no wrong, so why do you let them persecute you?”
“It is not of my doing,” Jesus whispers, “but of God’s.”
I stand up to face the crowd. “Is this what you want? To kill your king?”
“We have no king but Caesar!” They shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
I sigh as I catch Claudia’s eye. “I have no choice!” I walk over to the bowl of water on the table. “Let it be known that this is not of my doing, but of yours!” I dip my hands in the water, “I wash my hands of your king’s blood!”
“We have no king but Caesar!” the crowd roars at me.
“Silence!” I shout. “Send him to be crucified.”
Jesus looks at me weakly, blood running down his back. He doesn’t look upon me with scorn or remorse, but with pity…
“How could that man, sentenced to death, have pity on me?” I look to Claudia that night.
“Maybe he saw your soul,” Claudia says. “Maybe Jesus the Nazarene really was Messiah.”
“Great,” I mumble, “I just sentenced the Messiah to death.” I fall into the chair.
“If he really was Messiah,” Claudia assures me, “he’ll forgive you.”
I look at her, “Or condemn me to the fires of hell.”
© Copyright 2016 Ned Flanders. All rights reserved.
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