A crowd was quickly gathering. Rumor had it there was going to be a crucifixion on the square or on a hill or someplace in town; something about a man who claimed to be God. I didn’t pay much attention. I wasn’t into marches and riots and there were fanatics everywhere these days.
“Come on,” someone tugged at my jacket. “You are going to miss it. It will put a stop to his foolish ramblings.” I shrugged him off. I had no desire to watch someone die.
I was pushed along with the crowd. I had never witnessed such enthusiasm and excitement for something so gory and brutal. What kind of society had we become?
The mood of the crowd was excited, agitated, and animated. When I got to the hill it was standing room only. The wooden frame, from my point of view, looked like an old dead tree in the shape of a cross. It was eerie and I realized the sun had moved behind dark clouds. Something was brewing and my skin prickled. No one cared. They were busy watching the man on the tree. He squirmed, muttered things under his breath and sought to find some position to relieve his pain and discomfort. I looked away. It was more than I could handle. Suddenly, I was ashamed and not sure why. I wondered how we could find such enthusiasm in someone’s pain. I wondered if he deserved what he was going through.
Off in the distance thunder rumbled and lightning caught everyone off guard. Some complained hoping a rainstorm wouldn’t ruin their party. My skin crawled. This was certainly more than your average thunderstorm.
The sky continued to darken and I wondered how long the man had been hanging there. Suddenly, someone shouted, “Cut him down. He’s dead. No more kingly status for him. No more claiming to be a healer or miracle worker. Cut him down.”
I headed home. My heart hurt for some reason. I didn’t know the man or his family. I wondered who he really was. I couldn’t sleep that night or for several days afterwards.
The disturbing thing was, on my way to work three or four days later, I heard the man wasn’t dead. I disputed the stories. I was there. I felt the pain. I saw them cut him down and I remembered the agony. I still felt the shame.
The rumors spread. The talk was malicious at first about the authorities not doing their job. Talk changed and there were questions about an unsolved mystery and how the man might, indeed, be alive. Some claimed he had been buried and his family had stolen his body. Others claimed he was exactly who he said he was and you can’t dispute God. There was a lot of mumbo jumbo about him rising from the dead to save all those people who stood before him on that tree; to save all those joy seekers, extremist and fanatics who ran so quickly to watch him die. Why would someone want to die for those people? Why would someone want to die for me? No one wants to die for someone else. Besides what’s the point?
As time went on people claimed to have seen him meeting with his family and his friends. The authorities did all they could to squelch the rumors and warned people to let the story die. It didn’t. It hasn’t and it won’t.
It’s the story of you and me. It’s a story so unbelievable that you cannot deny it. I don’t really know what happened that day but I felt the pain and it changed me. It will change you too if given a chance. No one deserves what that man got that day but, regardless, he took it on. I don’t know where you belong. I cannot even keep my own stuff straight but I know one day on a rotten tree a man I didn’t know died so I would be okay. I don’t know what you believe or why and it is none of my business but there is a place for you in that man’s being. And he will never ever let you forget it. God bless you and yours this Easter Sunday!
Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.