The Two Friends
After Jesus had been sent back again to Pilate by Herod, Pilate’s attitude changed towards Herod. He no longer saw him as a competitor in enmity. Indeed to the surprise of many, Pilate became friends with Herod. They had become the two friends.
Then Pilate called the chief priests and rulers and people together and addressed them, saying: “You brought this man to me accusing him of corrupting the people. Having examined him before you, I have found no fault in him and your accusations appear to be unfounded. I also sent you to Herod, and he too found Jesus had done nothing worthy of death. I will therefore chastise him and release him”.
This was because it was customary for one man to be released to the people at the feast. But to Pilate’s surprise, they shouted: “Away with that man, release to us Barabbas”.
Pilate seemed determined to release Jesus and tried to speak again. But they shouted him down, chanting: “Crucify him, crucify him!” They were determined to have him killed.
Pilate tried to speak to them for the third time, saying: “But why? What wrong has he done? I found no crime worthy of death done by him. I will therefore chastise him and let him go”.
But again, with loud voices, they demanded his crucifixion. And the shouts of the people and the chief priests drowned out any opposition.
Pilate wearily lowered his head, resigning himself to the inevitable outcome. Then he ordered that Barabbas, who had committed sedition and murder in the city, be released from prison and handed over to them.
I saw two soldiers release Barabbas to life and liberty. I also saw two soldiers lead Jesus away to the cross and to death.
The Great Question
I was the guard on duty in the judgment hall that day. I informed Pilate that a company of Jews and priests had gathered outside demanding judgment on an urgent matter.
Pilate replied: Them again? And so early? Let them in.
I told him: Sir, they will not come into the judgment hall as they must keep their Passover.
Pilate replied: Have they not already defiled themselves by coming here? Very well, I will go out to them.
Pilate went out and said: What accusation are you bringing against this man?
The chief priest replied: If he was not guilty, we would not be delivering him to you!
Pilate looked them over and said: You take him, and then you judge him, according to your law.
The chief priest said: It is not lawful for us to enforce the death penalty for any man.
Pilate returned to the judgment hall and called for the prisoner, Jesus, to be brought in.
Pilate asked him directly: Are you the King of the Jews?
The prisoner Jesus asked Pilate: Are you saying this thing of yourself or have others told you this of me?
Pilate replied: Am I a Jew? Your own nation and leaders have handed you over to me. What have you done?
The prisoner Jesus replied, speaking of a kingdom not of this world and not at this present time. He said: If my kingdom was of this time, my servants would have fought for me and the Jews would not have taken me.
Pilate said to him: So you are a king, then?
The prisoner answered: You say I am a king.
I could not help wondering when this kingdom that he spoke of would come. He spoke of a mission, a cause, to give witness to what he called the truth. He affirmed that everyone of that truth would hear him. I had never heard any man speaking things like this, and the power of his conviction struck me.
Pilate then asked him a question that seemed to have been troubling him and asked: “Just what is the truth?” But there was no answer. The hall became silent and empty, leaving only the prisoner, Jesus, standing there.
Pilate suddenly went out again and said to the Jews: “I have found no fault in him. But you have a custom that I must release one prisoner to you at the Passover. Are you willing that I release to you the King of the Jews?”
Pilate’s question was met with a wall of rejection and derision. They shouted back: “Not that man. Give us Barabbas!”
Barabbas was a notable thief and murderer. The Jews had chosen, and now Pilate was forced to scourge him, whom they had called the King of the Jews.
Interrogation of Joel
A story was circulating that the father of one of the resurrected had spoken to his son, who had died some months ago. The temple guards, unable to find the son, brought his father in to be questioned by the chief priest.
Chief priest: You are Joel and you claim that your son who was dead is now alive. Why are you spreading such stories? Explain yourself.
Joel: It happened a few days ago while I was in the city. I heard a knock on the door, and when I opened it, I saw it was my own son standing there.
Chief priest: And what did you do?
Joel: Sir, I almost fainted: I could not believe it. He spoke to me, trying to calm me.
Chief priest: But how did he come back to you? By what means?
Joel: How he came back to me or by what means, I don’t know. All I know is my son was dead, and then he came back to me alive again.
Chief priest: But can you be sure it was him?
Joel: Sir, I know my own son.
Chief priest: Perhaps it was a vision or apparition that you saw. Or someone that looked like him?
Joel: No, he was not a ghost. I touched him, and I held his hand. It was him. It really was.
Chief priest: What did he look like?
Joel: He was as I remembered him, but he seemed changed, somehow different.
Chief priest: How had he changed?
Joel: I noticed his clothes were new, and his face was without wrinkles as if he were a newborn. His eyes were bright and clear.
Chief priest: Enough of this nonsense. Do you seriously expect us to believe such fantastic stories about dead people coming to life?
Joel: I’m not the only one. There are others who have seen their relatives come back to them. Don’t the scriptures refer to a resurrection of the just and the unjust? Had not the prophet from Galilee taught that?
Chief priest: So now we come nearer to the truth. Are you a follower of that dead deceiver? Do you presume to teach us who are sitting in Moses’ seat? We strongly warn you to desist from spreading any more of these dangerous and insidious rumours. Are you trying to turn the world upside down?
Another priest: We should thank him for his valuable information. Even as we speak, a search is under way to find your son. We will get to the bottom of this devious plot by the fanatics attempting to establish their messiah kingdom. But first, we need the names of your fellow conspirators.
Pilate Scourges a King
I, Pontius Pilate, had carefully evaluated the situation facing me and knew that a dangerous riot was on the verge of breaking out of control. It seemed I had no choice but to placate the hostile religious mob. Maybe I could save the life of the innocent prisoner they had handed over to me out of envy.
Against my better judgment, I had also been forced to release the prisoner they had chosen, the thief and murderer, Barabbas. Now I was about to do what I had never believed I could do, scourge a king. It was as if we had become players in some tragic drama ordained by the gods.
Jesus was led out to the scourging block. He offered no resistance, not a word. In his eyes, a lonely, haunting sadness, as if he knew all this had to happen. As if he knew all that was to happen.
His hands were tied to the post. I held the whip of leather, weighted with metal balls and sharp ends. My hand momentarily trembled, so I gripped the whip tighter. I shouted for the centurion to begin the count.
The first lash whipped across his back. Already I had drawn blood, the blood of an innocent man. A second, a third, a fourth, a fifth, and so it went on. His back was becoming ever more bloodied. He said nothing apart from the anguished groans and moans wrenched from his soul. Yet he never cried out nor cursed.
I had never seen a man take such punishment in silence. I had wanted to lessen the severity of the blows. But no, this had to look convincing. This had to be real. They would know I was cheating them and would be saying: “Rome’s best friend?” I had hoped when I presented him before them their bloodlust would be satisfied.
His back was now deeply cut, bleeding from every wound. Every stroke a deeper agony, a descent into deeper anguish. He was taking it all, taking it like a man, like the king he truly was. Drops of blood were splattering from his back like rain, and some had fallen on my hand. His blood was on me – but I hoped to save his life by blood.
The people and the chief priests who had been inciting them were baying for more blood, shouting: “Harder! Harder!”. I paused momentarily, a groan of disgust filling me at being a participant in this ugliest of dramas. This was beyond law, beyond all decency, but nothing could stop it. The drama had to go on to its conclusion.
I respected him more with every lash. He kept the silence of the innocent, like a sheep dumb before its shearer. There was no one to pity him, only I, his punisher. What an irony! What a cruel jest of the Gods! Why then did I want to save this man?
I couldn’t fully understand it, but I knew I had to try to save him. Almost as if in doing so, I was also saving myself and whatever was left of decency, justice and truth. I was left with a strange feeling that it was not Jesus who was on trial, but all of us.
The ordeal was over. I was breathing hard, my hand raw from holding that whip. I threw it down into the dust with disgust. The mob’s justice had been served, but would they be satisfied? I motioned to the centurion to untie the prisoner and put his clothes back on.
As I turned to walk back into the judgment hall to rest, I noticed a Galilean woman standing by the gate clutching the bars tightly with trembling hands, her face covered with tears. She seemed to bear a family resemblance, perhaps a sister or even his mother.
I was on duty as a guard on the day in question, and this is what I witnessed. There was a great clamour as the Jews began to loudly demand the prisoner’s death. Pilate answered them: You take him and crucify him, for I have found no fault in him.
The crowd dared to reject his verdict and said: We have our law, and by our law, he must die because he made himself the son of God. When Pilate heard those words, he became even more afraid. I had never seen him so unnerved.
Pilate entered into the hall again and said to Jesus: Where are you really from? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate became annoyed and said: Are you not speaking to me? Don’t you know I have the power to crucify you, and the power to release you?
Jesus replied: You would have no power against me at all (as he looked up) unless it was given to you from above. Therefore those that have handed me over to you have the greater fault.
Pilate was once again astonished at his answer. Now he became even more determined to release this man, this strangest of men. Pilate quickly went out again to the Jews, but when they saw him, they shouted loudly: “If you let that man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
The expression on Pilate’s face fell, and he entered into the hall once again and brought Jesus out before the Jews. He sat down on the judgment seat in a place called “The Pavement” which the Jews called Gabbatha. This was about the sixth hour of the preparation for the Jews’ Passover.
Pilate surveyed the crowd and shouted: Look at your king!
But they all immediately shouted back: Get rid of him! Get rid of him! Crucify him!
Pilate moved back in his seat, astonished. He then asked them: Shall I crucify your king?
The chief priests responded in unison: We have no king but Caesar. Pilate could scarcely believe what he was hearing, and it appeared that he was left with no choice but to hand over Jesus to their will, to be crucified. I saw the other guard take Jesus and lead him away.
I stood there in astonishment at the course of events. Surely, there had never been a trial like this one.
How could this have happened? What of respect for Roman justice now?
First, Pilate had been forced to scourge a king, and now he was forced to crucify one.
The Empty Tomb
Pilate was growing increasingly mistrustful of the manipulative priests. He had not believed their stories of the sleeping watchers and he sent us to examine the tomb of Christ that had belonged to Joseph of Arimathea.
We passed by the place of crucifixion and entered the grounds of the garden of Golgotha. After the earthquake on Friday afternoon, much of the ground was cracked and many of the graves appeared as if they had been pushed about and shaken.
As we approached the tomb, the scene of the crime, we saw that the seal around the entrance had been broken. The large, heavy stone that had blocked the doorway now lay flat on the ground several paces away. Strange, why roll away the heavy stone from the entrance and then go to all the trouble of laying it on the ground away from the tomb? Why not leave it against the rock wall?
There were some footprints by the tomb, presumably of the guards who had been watching and the remains of bread and other food. There was no evidence of a struggle or any disturbance. We also noticed the footprints of two men and some smaller footprints. We examined the rock face for signs of any other opening or entrance but found none.
We entered the tomb to find it was empty: there was no body, nor any signs of one having been there. The stone slab on which the dead body would have been placed was empty. We examined the floor, the walls and the ceiling of the tomb, but there was no evidence of anything out of the ordinary.
We bent down to examine the floor more carefully and noticed faint traces of footprints there. We could not determine if the footprints belonged to those who had lain the body there a few days ago or to people who had recently entered the tomb.
There was a lingering odour of myrrh and aloes, which many of the Jews used in the burial of their dead, but no odour of bodily decay.
Unable to find any answers, we emerged from the vacant tomb, puzzled. The only explanation seemed to be that the body had never been there, despite the many witnesses who had seen him placed there. But if so, why remove the stone?
So there we stood; the tomb was empty, and the body was missing along with any meaningful evidence. How could the body be carried off without being seen? There were no tracks of wheels.
We were drawn back to the stone lying on the floor, which had been blocking the only way the body could have been removed. We examined the circumference of the stone. There were no marks of any metal, wooden or other tools having been used to move the stone from its place. On one side, however, we found faint prints of what looked like a large man’s hand. But how could one man move such a heavy stone out of its place and rolled it to its present place on the ground?
By the stone, we found two footprints as though someone had been sitting on the stone. There were also some marks on the top of the stone. More puzzling still, there were no footprints leading from the tomb door to the stone.
It seemed it was as if someone had left the stone here as some kind of sign, having first used it as a seat while he was waiting for someone or others.
Was it all an elaborate hoax? Evidence carefully planted to draw us into believing a certain conclusion?
It seemed like a conjuror’s trick that was not meant to be revealed although the answer was staring us in the face.
The facts were that the tomb was empty, and the body was gone, taken by one or more persons, but leaving no clues as to how or why, or as to who had done this?
All of this happened while the guards claimed to be sleeping. We had, of course, heard the story of how the guards had fallen asleep, presumably at the same time while the followers of Jesus, who had been in hiding, had suddenly grown brave and come in the night to steal his body away. But there was no evidence to support this story which was now looking increasingly unlikely.
We suspected that the priests or others had bribed them, but why? We were left wondering what had happened here? The clues were leading nowhere, and the evidence gave no answers. Standing there outside the tomb, we could not shake the feeling that something out of the ordinary had happened here.
All we were left with were the witness accounts of those who had been here. The answer had to be with them. One of them, or some of them, must know what happened during those few hours. I could not help but think that the answer was connected to the moving of that stone.
The Capture of Jael
Joel’s son, Jael, had been apprehended by the temple guards who had been watching his father’s house. They had brought him to the high priest’s palace and set him before the assembled priests, who observed him with hostile suspicion.
Chief priest: You claim not only that you are Joel’s son who was dead, but you have been heard spreading rumours that you were resurrected from the dead. What have you to say to these things?
Jael: I am Joel’s son, his only child. I have only spoken the things I know to be true. I was dead, and now I am alive.
Chief priest: But can you prove this?
Jael: There are many empty graves: I am one of those who was resurrected as a witness to Jesus of Nazareth who first rose…
Chief priest: At present, we are only concerned with your case. I ask you again: can you prove you are who you say you are?
Jael: I have already told you who I am. I am Jael. There are other witnesses who will confirm I am he, because they have known me from before.
Chief priest: You might be an imposter. Someone planted who looks like Jael.
Jael: The empty graves are one witness and I, standing before you, am another. Why do you keep asking me the same question? Ask those who know me. They know who I was and who I am now.
Chief priest: You mean your fellow conspirators?
Jael: I think my father and mother would know their own son.
Chief priest: A little less insolence would be wise. Consider your predicament. The charges against you are serious and include impersonation, grave robbery and insurrection, amongst others.
Another priest: But what if he is telling the truth? Perhaps some purpose of God is at work here? Are we to struggle against the will of God?
Another priest: Practical problems call for practical solutions, not philosophical speculation. The problem we have here…
Chief priest: He ought to be compelled to publicly recant his claims.
Jael: I cannot but speak what I know to be true: I was dead, now I am alive again.
Chief priest: No matter, we will make a further declaration to the people informing them of the true agenda behind this resurrection myth. We would have tried you ourselves, but Roman spies have reported your capture, and they are demanding we deliver you up for questioning. Guards, take him and keep him securely. To make sure, double the guard.
As he is led away, all the eyes of the assembled were on him. They wondered at his calm manner, his countenance bright with joy.
Jael was chained to the wall, watched over by two guards. Around midnight, he was heard to pray: As I have borne witness to you, Lord, before the Jews, so make me bold in my witness towards the Romans also, so that all men might know the power of your resurrection.
The Mother of Jael
Guard: There is a woman who has been coming here demanding to speak with you.
Chief priest: We are too busy. Tell her to go away.
Guard: She will neither leave nor stop talking.
Chief priest: If it’s not one thing… Very well, tell her we will see her briefly and hear her complaints.
Jael’s mother: Where is my son? What has happened to him?
Chief priest: Unfortunately, we are unable to help you. There are serious charges against your son, including grave-robbing, impersonation, spreading rumours, disturbing the peace, and insurrection. We have been forced to hand him over to the Roman authorities for questioning. We suggest you enquire of them concerning your son’s welfare.
Jael’s mother: How can you be so cruel and hard-hearted? You all know it is my son, and a great miracle has happened. How can you deny it?
Chief priest: You dare to talk to us in this way?
Jael’s mother: I meant no disrespect. I am frantic with worry for my son’s safety. We are all desperately worried. We cannot bear the thought of losing him again. Could you not intercede on my behalf?
Chief priest: That course of action would be ill-advised and would only cause further trouble. I am sorry, we cannot help.
Jael’s mother: Who then can I turn to for help?
Chief priest: That is not our concern. That is something you must see to yourself.
Pilate and the Empty Tomb
I, Pilate, Roman Governor, had been forced by events to return for a second time to Golgotha, a place of death. First, over the matter of the title I had written and placed on the cross of Jesus of Nazareth. Then something had compelled me to go and see his empty tomb for myself.
I stood there in front of the open entrance of the tomb. Had I not granted Joseph of Arimathea permission to take the body of Jesus and inter him in his own tomb? If only I had known how events would turn out, I might have been less generous. But who could have foreseen this course of events? I should have listened to my wife and let the matter alone had I not been cornered by a situation I had been cunningly manoeuvred into.
Here I met what I could not govern, what no man could control. But such is the will of the gods, and such was the outcome no mortal power could alter. This empty tomb, the mystery which no one had been able to solve, this empty tomb — his victory over us all – governor, priest and commoner alike.
My thoughts turned to myself as I became aware that my days as governor in Judea were numbered. The sniping reports finding their way back to Rome would no doubt take their toll in due course. But such is life. Someone must take the blame, bear the sin.
I turned my back to the tomb and walked out of Golgotha for the last time. Back to whatever fate awaited me.
Account of The Two Marys
We awoke very early, having slept little after the events on Friday. At the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, we came to the sepulchre where Jesus was buried, bringing spices to anoint his body. Everything had been done so hurriedly on Friday evening, and we had not been able to complete the preparations.
Along the way, we had discussed who could roll away the stone from the entrance for us. As we approached the tomb in the dim light, we were startled to see that the stone had already been taken away. The men guarding the tomb were shaking with fear, some of them covering their eyes, and others on their knees, saying: “The light, the light!”
We drew near and looked towards the tomb, and we saw someone like a man. His face shone like flashing lightning. He was dressed in a long white robe, shining as if it was made of light, sitting on the heavy stone that had been rolled against the tomb.
We were speechless, confused and afraid. Finally, one of us said: “What has happened here? Who are you?”
Then the man spoke to us: “Don’t be afraid, I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is no longer here, and he has risen as he said he would. Come near, see the place where he was laid”
We approached nervously and peered into the mouth of the tomb. It was empty, and there was no body there. Then he said: “Go quickly, and tell his disciples what you have seen. That Jesus is indeed risen from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, as I have told you.”
We did as he asked us and departed quickly from the tomb. We were seized by a mixture of fear and great joy. A realization came upon us like a kind of joyous panic, and we began to run. We had to tell the disciples everything that had happened there.
We were running when we saw a man standing in the road. We stopped, breathless with excitement and fear. The man walked up to us and said: “All Hail!” We looked at him more closely. We knew that face! We knew that voice!
We came to him and grasped his feet, worshipping him. We saw that his feet had the marks of crucifixion. We would not let him go – we could not let him go – from us again.
Then he looked down and said: “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my family to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
The Doubts of Thomas Didymus
It had been eight days since the other disciples had excitedly told me, that they had seen the risen Lord. There had been much discussion, but I remained unconvinced, and also, nothing had happened since then. It was Monday evening, and we were all inside. The doors were kept shut as usual for fear of discovery by the Jews.
We were disputing again when suddenly we became aware that a man was standing among us. We drew back in fear and astonishment. Then the man spoke: “Peace be to you!”
He looked exactly like Jesus as I remembered Him. Then he looked at me with those eyes that seemed to know all that I had ever thought or felt. He said to me: “Thomas, reach here with your finger and look at my hand, and reach here with your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believing.”
How could he have known the words I said last week? As if in a dream, I slowly raised my right hand and reached with my forefinger towards the open hand of Jesus. Slowly my finger sank into the nail wounds in His palm. I gasped in astonishment, struggling to grasp the reality of what was happening. My mind drawing back from the overwhelming impact of what I was experiencing.
I reached out again and put my hand towards the open wound in His side. My hand was slowly sinking in. It was all too much. I felt the reality of His risen body and sank to my knees, trembling, and with tears flowing, I stammered and said: “My Lord and My God.”
Jesus looked at me and said: “Thomas because you have seen me, now you believe. But blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.”
I immediately knew that this experience would change my life. I felt as if I had become part of His body, of his flesh and of his bones.
Also, Jesus did many other signs among them which have not been written, but this is written. That you might believe that the risen Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of God and that believing in Him you might have eternal life through His name.
Interrogation of a Dead Man
Roman captain: Your story is unlike any we have heard. You claim to be Jael, the son of Joel, whom you allege died and was buried, and then rose from the dead.
Jael: Yes, that was my name when I was alive, and I suppose it is mine now.
Captain: Is it really? Our records show a Jael, son of Joel, who died several months ago, and was buried in the grave by the garden of Golgotha. Who then are you?
Jael: I am, in truth, Jael, the son of Joel.
Captain: Why should we believe such a fantastic story? The penalty for impersonation is severe, as is the penalty for insurrection. I want the truth, and only the truth, and before I am through with you, I shall have the truth.
Jael: I have told you the truth. I am Jael. I died and then became awake.
Captain: If what you say is true, how did you awake?
Jael: I became conscious again. How I don’t know, it’s a mystery. I became conscious, and I just wanted to get out of the grave, so I rose up and got out of the grave and walked away.
Captain: I don’t understand your words. If you were dead, how could you live again? Your body would have decayed. How could you get up without falling to pieces? Can you seriously expect any sane man to believe such an incredible story?
Jael: I cannot explain how I rose from the grave intact, and my body had not decayed, but I did. I was buried in corruption but raised uncorrupted. I was buried in weakness but raised up in strength. Why should it be thought an impossible thing that God, who made all things, could not also raise the dead?
Captain: And what of your clothes? Did you rise naked? Where did you get your brand-new clothes? From your fellow conspirators?
Jael: All these are questions I cannot answer. In our faith, we believe there will be a resurrection of the dead, the just and the unjust, in the judgment. My first thought when I awoke was that it was happening, this was it. But there was no judge and no judgment – not yet.
Captain: In our Empire, many believe in a better place where the dead go, our Elysium.
Jael: In our faith, there is a resurrection to an inheritance in a kingdom on Earth. It seems we were raised to be witnesses of these things, and of Jesus of Nazareth who was raised first. The empty graves around Golgotha bear witness to what I am saying.
Captain: A search is now under way to locate the stolen body of Jesus of Nazareth and the ringleaders of the resurrection sect. You will tell me the names of the grave robbers.
Jael: Sir, I am not the only one who was raised back to life. There are many empty graves in Golgotha, and many witnesses in the city who will testify what they have seen. They have also spoken to those who were resurrected. Ask them what they have seen and heard.
Captain: We will be interviewing them in due course, along with the storytellers. You are asking me to believe the impossible – in things that could never happen. You say you knew you had died. If so, what was your death like? Where did you go?
Jael: I cannot remember. It was like I was asleep. I cannot recall for how long. When I became conscious, the months that I had been there seemed like no time at all.
Captain: For someone claiming to be alive from the dead, you tell me next to nothing. We will leave the philosophy of Elysium alone for the time being. Can you explain your movements after you left Golgotha? If we find out you are lying, you will feel the force of Roman justice, along with your family and friends. Go on …
Jael: After our company of the resurrected walked out of Golgotha, we entered into Jerusalem through the gate, and …
Captain: Yes, there are witnesses who informed us of the coming of a company of strangers into the city.
Jael: Yes, we entered the city and showed ourselves as witnesses to many people. No doubt the Captain is aware of these witnesses. They know who they saw. I myself recognised some people I had known. I said to them: Yes, this really is me, Jael. But some ran away saying that it couldn’t be. I remember the look of shock and fear on their faces.
Captain: Keep to your account only, and don’t bring in other people to give credence to your story unless you can provide evidence.
Jael: I went down the street, near to the city wall where I had lived. A sudden doubt came to me. How would my family and friends receive me? But I had to see them.
Captain: I am listening. Go on.
Jael: I reached my house and knocked on the familiar door. There was no answer, so I knocked louder. Then a voice spoke from inside saying: Who is it?
I knew that voice and replied: Joel, it’s me, your son, Jael.
The voice answered: My son Jael is dead. Who are you?
I cried out: Father, it’s me. Open the door. It’s me, Jael.
The door slowly opened. My father’s eyes grew wide, his mouth fell open in shock. I tried to comfort him, saying: It’s me, your Jael. I have been sent back to you.
He could not believe it and said: No, it can’t be. Jael was taken away from us. Who are you?
I said: What God took, he has also given back.
He said: Can it really be you? It’s a miracle! But how?
I replied: I don’t know how or why. But God has brought me back to you. How is my mother? And the others?
Captain: Yes, this account has already been related to us. We know about the chief priest’s interrogation of your father, Joel. But you have still not proven that you are, in fact, Jael.
Jael: I have many witnesses who would testify on my behalf, Captain, if they were here. But you do not have one witness who can prove I am not Jael.
Captain: That could be proven by other means at our disposal.
Jael: I cannot be frightened into saying things that are not true to fit an agenda. I do not fear death as I have already been dead. Neither torture nor death will make me confess to what is not true. I have already died and come back to life. Can I be tried and killed a second time?
Captain: That is a matter for others to decide.
Jael: Our life on this Earth can be cruel and brief. Our loved ones can be taken away in a moment. But we have faith and hope that one day we will share a lasting life in the new kingdom. Captain, do you not have the same desire in your heart?
Captain: You say things that I have kept closed in the depths of my heart. My own wife died young, but how could I dare to hope to see her again? These things are too painful, as is the reality we must all deal with. My superiors will never accept your story. They will remain convinced of the plot. I must have answers that will be acceptable to them.
Jael: But the evidence is there.
Captain: Yes, the evidence is there. But the interpretation could differ.
Jael: Captain, I pose no threat to your power.
Captain: You have spoken of a new power and a new kingdom. How do you propose to establish this idealistic dream? Where is your resurrection army? Have your followers resorted to grave robbery?
Jael: I have an army of witnesses, those who have been raised and who will believe in our testimony to the name of Jesus. Our power rests in our God, and we are proof of this power in that he raised us from the dead.
Captain: So we return again to the famous son of Galilee. All this appears to have started with his death and that empty tomb. The answer must be there. However, the search continues for his missing body.
Jael: You will never find his body. God raised him as a witness to all men: he shall judge the living and the dead. There are witnesses who will confirm they have seen him alive.
Captain: Yes, Jesus and his apostles, who are in hiding. Do you know of their present whereabouts?
Jael: I was not raised to bear witness to them. I do not know where they are.
Captain: You are not providing any of the answers I require and that are required of me. The penalty for lying and aiding subversives is severe. Your answers have all been noted. If we find out you have been lying to us…
Jael: I have told you all the truth I know. I have no agenda or insurrection plan. I was dead, and now I am alive, a witness to what few dare to believe.
Captain: You claim to be no threat to the authority of Rome. No, you are not a political or military threat. Your threat is much more dangerous, the power of a new idea to infect people’s minds and change the world we know. But you have committed no crime we can presently prove. If we were to release you, what would you do?
Jael: I would live. I would do as I have already done and bear witness to what has happened to me to those who will listen.
Captain: Your answer is what I suspected and feared. Are you truly out of your mind? Your belief is so strong that you almost make me want to believe. Are you also trying to convert me?
Jael: I would that not only you, but that all men might believe, and be saved.
Captain: You could be proved to be right. Perhaps fate has ordained that we should meet. But I am just one part of a complex administration, and I think the matter will be taken out of my hands. No doubt a trial will be convened to uncover the truth and decide your fate. But to die, and then be given life, and then to have to die again? That seems a strange fate for any man to bear.
To be continued…