3 A.D. by Billie Matejka - HTML preview

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As I looked upward, the sun blurred my vision, blotting the terrible sight silhouetted against a cloudless sky. My sister squeezed my shoulders tightly as I wiped dust and tears with a cloth that hadn"t been clean since...who could say when?

The sun radiated across the area, baking the earth, though hordes of people appeared to ignore the heat. Leaves on trees shriveled as weeds on the ground became brown and broke into crumbs when walked upon.

From the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of brilliant red poppies and gnarled limbs of ancient olive trees growing on the hillside of Golgotha. The scent of cedars nearby made me long for the cleanliness of home. I wished desperately to escape the horror that engulfed me and my loved ones.

But I couldn"t escape...neither the sun, the hoards, the noise nor my Beloved Son who now hung on the cross.

Sweat dribbled down my face, mingling with tears. If I had my mirror, I"d see a barely five-foot tall woman with hair beginning to grey. At the moment, I knew dark eyes revealed the anger, pain and exhaustion I could no longer hide. Running my hand toward my hair, I felt pronounced wrinkles on my forehead. They were embedded with dirt, then dampened with sweat which reminded me of the mud cakes Jesus made as a child. I knew with certainty my skin was seared a deep copper.

Rocks tumbled restlessly beneath the feet of people hurrying to get a closer look at the spectacle. As they pushed closer, I smelled the odor of unwashed bodies, as well as the scent of blood oozing from wounds of men hanging on a cross.

Suddenly, taunting screams of the restless crowd penetrated my consciousness. Leah released me as I raised my arm and screamed at the rabble, “You"re killing your Savior!”

No one heard me over the clamor of the riff-raff shuffling feet and their incessant shouts.

As I looked over the crowd, I saw people whom my Son had healed. They were saying and doing nothing to help the Man on the cross. At that moment I almost hated them. Then partial sanity returned and I asked God for forgiveness. Maybe their apprehension was too great. I knew many were too frightened to help others who had fallen from political favor.

“If you can save others, call upon the Angels to save you,” I heard one man roar in derision. Others took up his call. The jeers were magnified, filling the air above Golgotha with hate. Soldiers stood with impassive faces as the mob"s raucous screams became ever louder. Others cast lots for His robe. Maybe, being seamless, it was worth a little more than robes men generally wore, but it was worth almost nothing in monetary value.

I know. I made it, never dreaming my Son would wear it on the last day of His life. I wove it without seams so it would be more comfortable. Now, soldiers were...I refused to think of it. The men who hung my Son on the cross between two thieves now hid themselves. I saw one of them slinking through the horde, attempting to run from his murderous acts. I clenched my fists and trembled with fury.

Looking upward, my anger died as my arms encircled the tree which held the most precious person in existence.

Trembling legs now barely held me upright. I stood at the foot of the cross and looked up at Him attempting to smile, trying to give Him some of my strength.

Jesus, my beloved first Son. Pain was etched on His face, yet total love shone from His eyes. His grimy body was a mass of criss-cross marks from the beatings he endured. Blood oozed down his face from the crown of thorns. His feet, where nail heads were visible, bled from the rocks he had been forced to walk over, as well as the nails.

Blood pooled at the foot of the cross and I bumped into Leah as I lurched to one side, attempting to side-step the precious fluid.

Earlier, when a hammer hit the nails which tore through Jesus" hands I felt each blow, yearning to be on that cross to take His pain. I"d kissed His bruises and put balm on His scraped knees when He was little. Later, I"d attempted to heal the wounds of the soul when He was unaccepted, even by His family and friends.

My anguish was so excruciating I expected to see blood oozing from my hands and feet. But as I looked at them, not a drop appeared around the nails I felt entering my hands.

How could this happen? I wondered. How could pain be so intense, yet my skin remain intact? From the anguish I felt, the crown of thorns on my Son"s head should have drawn blood on my own brow. The taste of vinegar my Son drank had turned my mouth sour with bitterness.

As I watched my Child slowly die, I felt a hundred years old, instead of forty-nine.

Glancing down, fresh blisters on sand-encrusted feet caught my eye. As I moved from one foot to the other attempting to alleviate pain, the blisters broke and a few drops of liquid oozed. It reminded me of the many times Jesus and I bathed our feet with fresh water from the well in Nazareth. Forgetting where I was, I could almost feel that cool, clean water. For a moment, the water of my imagination relieved the soreness in my feet.

A drop of Jesus" blood fell onto my hand. I glanced up. It reminded me of the night He was born. Abruptly, I felt as though I were back in a more lighthearted time . . . the night I first met Gabriel.

That night...ah, that night...the night I learned I was to become the mother of the Son of God beamed in my thoughts as brightly now as the morning sun had that day in Nazareth.