..........Crucifixion Night..........

The sign over the door read, "Mary's Tavern," and though
herself a Jewess, her clientele were largely Roman Soldiers,
government flunkies, publicans and travelers. One could acquire
most anything he desired on the premises, from spirits to forbidden
food and female companionship -- all for a hefty price. Usually
around a big Jewish festival, such as Passover, the Romans would
send several additional troops to control the extra Jews who came in
from all over the world to observe and participate in the
festivities, and this year was no different. Business at Mary's had
been brisk.

But this evening was different. When the centurion and his two
junior officers entered the tavern they were the only customers.
They seated themselves around a circular table near the window and
Mary took their orders -- no food for any of them, only drinks.

"You boys ever seen anything like that?" the centurion asked
his two men.

The younger of the two (it was his first trip to Jerusalem for
Passover Duty) replied, "Rome, with all her history and grandeur has
never seen the likes of this!"

"I'll tell you, boss, there was something about that man..."
the other junior officer said.

"It's like I said," the centurion continued, "Truly, this man
was the Son of God."

"Did you really mean that?"

"Wouldn't have said it if I didn't."

"The older of the two subordinate officers chimed in, "I didn't
feel too good about that man from the start. Best I recall there
were to be two killed today as of late yesterday, not three."

"And did you see all the high faluting Jews who showed up? I
can't say I ever saw that many of them anywhere near Golgotha

"Them suits don't usually come, do they boss?" asked the
younger of the junior officers.

"I've been here for going on four years and that's the most
priests and judges I ever saw at a crucifixion."

"And did you see how he died? It was almost on cue -- when he
hollered something it was like he submitted to death."

"Yeah, and what about that darkness? That wasn't natural, I
tell you, not natural at all."

"And that big curtain tearing in the Jewish Temple -- that was
eerie, boss, eerie."

"It's like I said -- Truly, this man was the Son of God. I've
never seen anything like it."

"Well boss, if he was the Son of God, why was he dying on a

"I heard him speak one time a couple of years back, and I knew
then he was something special. Mostly Jews just ask questions and
then go about quoting a bunch of dead Jewish preachers to answer
themselves. This man was different -- he spoke with authority. The
chief priests didn't like him, not one bit, but I never heard any
of 'em answer him."

"He sure spooked the chief priests -- they were so scared he
wouldn't stay dead they even got a detachment of soldiers to guard
his tomb. Superstitious Jews..."

"Foolish race, them Jews, foolish."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," the centurion replied.

"What do you mean boss?"

"Well, some time back I heard tell of a man named Lazarus, a
friend of this man Jesus, who died. His sisters had sent for Jesus
when Lazarus took sick and appeared to be near death. Jesus didn't
come in time and Lazarus died."

"Are you saying that if he had come..."

"No -- more. When Jesus finally did come Lazarus was already
dead. After being told that the body was already in the process of
decay, even that the burial spices had lost their effect, Jesus
insisted on seeing the body. They took him to the tomb, and word
has it, Jesus spoke three words -- Lazarus, come forth -- and he
did. He came back from the dead."

"Any proof?"

"I met him after the events and questioned him and both of his
sisters and several neighbors and all I'll say is that he was sure
dead and then sure alive again."

"But, if he was God's Son, as you said, why didn't God do
something to help His Son?"

"Well, I can't rightly say 'cause I don't rightly know. All my
training in Greek and True (Roman) philosophy and logic fails to
make me understand it. Maybe God wanted him to die???"

"But why?"

"Don't know. What gets me still is that the Sun disappeared
for three whole hours."

"Yeah, the gods covered it for some reason."

"Maybe they hid the sun in anguish about what was happening."

"If he was God's Son, someone is in big trouble, eh junior?"

"You two don't make fun -- one never knows about these things."

"Do you really believe in this man, boss?"

"Maybe I do, maybe I do indeed -- yes, I think I do believe in
this man. What else can account for his teaching and his life and
his works? Who but Deity could endure such an ordeal with such
character? You both saw the ridicule to which he was subjected, and
yet how did he respond?"

"That's my point, boss, exactly. If he was the Son of God, why
didn't he stop the mouths of those Jews?"

"I don't know, I just don't know. But, why else would the sun
hide itself?"

"An eclipse?"

"No -- not at this time of the year. Besides, why was it only
dark here? Why did not the travelers know of it when they arrived?"

"Well, he is dead. If he was the Son of God, he is no longer."

"I heard his students talking about a resurrection from the
dead for Jesus like that of Lazarus."

"The Jews who insisted on a guard also mentioned that."

"Do you believe, too?"

"Time will tell, time will tell."

..........H. L. Gradowith ..........


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