“It is finished”
The cry reverberated throughout the valley as he hung his head and breathe his last. Drops of blood dripped from his brows, down his face and down his torso joining with the flow from his hands and down to his feet.
It was indeed over.
There was a deadly silence. The disciples blinked in disbelief and the Pharisees closed their eyes and sighed with relief. It was over, finally.
Caiaphas words have indeed proven to be true “it is expedient that one man should die and not the whole nation” he had said at the council the previous night.
Pilate and the romans were convinced that there would be no insurrection and the Pharisees could maintain their hold on the people- Judaism will live on.
Slowly the crowd began to disperse and many huddled in groups and spoke in hushed tones.
“Is this not the messiah that we have been waiting for?” one asked with a note of incredulity in his voice. He could not come to terms with the gruesome death of the supposed savior of Israel, who just a few days ago had ridden into Jerusalem with shouts of ‘hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord’.
“Haven’t I told you he is a deceiver just like the ones before him?’’ another answered.
‘’But he was different”
“Not different, just a better act” the other replied, with a hint of annoyance. Deep down he had wished the now dead man was the messiah, even despite his skepticism. The roman reign was becoming more stifling and Israel could do with a savior. He chided himself for allowing himself to be swayed, to have false hope.
A few stayed behind, eyes clouded with tears and waiting for something to happen. He couldn’t just die like that. He who had raised the dead on more than one occasion definitely could not succumb to death. Any minute from now he was going to wake up and smile down at them. He was the messiah! The one to deliver them from the oppression of the romans.
A woman was weeping profusely, a few feet from the rest and was being consoled by two women, who themselves could not hold back the tears. The dead man had had tremendous impact on their lives. He had given their lives a meaning and a purpose. The more they consoled her, the more she cried and uttered a heart wrenching scream of agony. How does one deal with losing someone that defines one, the source of one’s uniqueness and one’s son? How does one deal with watching one’s flesh subjected to the worst form of punishment and humiliation and dying the most shameful of death?
One of the few men that lingered behind, nicknamed ‘the beloved’ in whose care the weeping woman had been committed, walked towards her and carried her in his arms.
“Son, behold your mother’’ the words echoed in his mind as he walked away from the scene. He felt honored to have been trusted with the job of taking care of the Master’s mother. He was humbled by how much the Master loved and trusted him. Not even Simon was given the job.
A sudden wave of sadness washed over him at the remembrance. All of them had looked up to him as the elder and most committed. He was always the one that was quick to volunteer to follow the Master and the one that had enjoyed the experience of the supernatural the most. It had been a shock to see him deny the Master vehemently. Three times.
“Before the cock crow, you will deny me three times”.
The Master’s words definitely came to pass. He felt sorry for Simon. It was inevitable that he had to commit such atrocity against the Master, just like the son of perdition had been destined to betray his Lord.
What would befall Simon now? He wondered. It had been two days and he had not shown up.
The scene was now deserted and the last onlooker had gone. A man snuck out from behind a rock, his face hidden behind a veil and moved towards the man hanging from the cross in the middle. On either side was the criminals that the Master had shared a horrible death with; a guileless man dying the death of a sinner. He still could not believe the turn of events that led up till the death of the very Son of God and his own role in it.
He looked up at the mangled face and burst into tears, bowing prostrate on the floor not minding the congealed blood that had pooled on the ground. ‘His blood is on my hands’, he thought frantically and his breath came in short gasps.
‘’I am sorry Master” he said over and over amidst sobs that shook him and tears mingling with the dust.
“Before the cock crows, you shall betray me three times” the words had haunted him since then and he could not eat nor sleep. He had betrayed the Master. What was worse was that this had not been the first time.
On the journey to Jerusalem, the Master had been telling them of his mission and how he was going to be betrayed by the Jews and sold to the gentiles. It was he who had protested vehemently saying that it wasn’t possible. “Far be it from you” he had said emphatically
“Get thee behind me Satan, for you have no part in the things of God’’
Those were the Master’s words then. It hurt still thinking about them. How had he allowed the devil to use him to tempt the Master? And he had to do it again! The guilt and burden was threatening to swallow him up.
It was not until the soldiers came to remove the bodies that he was roughly pushed aside and forced to leave but not until he was sure of where the master’s body was to be buried.
Not knowing what to do, he wandered aimlessly in the field weeping. He felt lost and all alone. He contemplated returning to his brethren but he was afraid and ashamed.
He startled when a hand touched him and he gave a soft cry. His widened eyes met that of Mary, of Magdala. Her eyes, though reddened and puffy from crying were soft and had a sheen of tears. She had stayed behind to see where the Master’s body was to be buried and had followed the soldiers at a distance as they carried the Master’s body to the field that belonged to Joseph, of Arimathea. He was reported to be a righteous man and had requested for the body of the Master to be buried in his own sepulcher.
She drew Simon into an embrace and he wept on her shoulders. She compelled him to follow her back to the upper room where all the disciples of the Master had gathered.
The warmth of the brethren overwhelmed him. Not a judgmental eye greeted him. He was one of them and they knew how much he had loved the Master and they sat and grieved their Lord together. The air was filled with despair and disorientation.
Whatever was going to happen to them now? Once again, they experienced the purposelessness that had plagued them before they began following the master.
Is this the end? The collective question that was in every eye but which remained unspoken.