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“Wake up, David! Something is terribly wrong. Morning has dawned, and Father hasn’t come home. Come on, get up! I have a terrible feeling about this day.”

“I have a terrible feeling about you, Junior, for waking me up before sunrise,” David protested. “Why can’t you just let me sleep? Are you sure Father’s not here? Did you look in his room?”

“Yes, I did. Ever since Mother died, Father has been home long before midnight. I fell asleep waiting in the chair by the door, and when I woke up the candle was out. I thought father came in and blew it out, so I opened the door to his room, and I could see that he didn’t come home. We need to go look for him.”

“You go look for him, Junior. I’ll stay here and wait in case he comes while you are out looking.”

“I know, you just want to go back to sleep, but staying here is not such a bad idea. I’ll go try to find him.”

It was still dark, but there was enough light to see the few people who were walking toward him as he made his way toward the Temple. The first man he met was a friend of his father. “Good morning, Scarface,” the man said as he passed.

The second man who also knew him, stopped him and said, “What’s the matter, Scarface? Why are you up so early?” Everyone knew Junior as Scarface since the day three years earlier when an angry donkey driver had cut his face with a knife for something his little brother did.

“My father never came home from a meeting last night. I’m looking for him,” Junior said. Both men he met were leaders, members of “The Sanhedrin – priests, elders and teachers of the Law.

“Your father and I were at a meeting that lasted all night. He will be home soon,” the man said and walked on.

The fourth man was his father. “My son, why aren’t you home in bed?” He asked.

“I am sorry, Father. You told us you were going to a meeting last night, but always before, you returned home before I went to bed. So last night I sat by the door in the light of a candle. After a while I fell asleep, and when I woke up, the candle was out, but dawn was coming, so I checked your room and you weren’t there. I thought something bad happened to you, so I came to find you.”

“Something bad, really bad, happened, but not to me,” his father answered. “Not long after I arrived at the high priest’s home for the special meeting, I discovered why we all were there. A group of guards led the Rabbi Jesus into the room, with his hands tied behind his back. As soon as he was in the room some of the priests, friends of mine, started shouting at him. Then when he was led to the high priest, they stopped shouting, and the high priest asked him a string of questions. When he answered, one of my friends standing close to him slapped Jesus’ face and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”

Then it seemed that everyone in the room started shouting, and some of the priests started accusing Rabbi Jesus of doing and saying wrong things, but their charges were obviously false. I was beginning to think Rabbi Jesus would be OK, when the chief priest stood up and everyone stopped shouting and talking.

The chief priest asked Rabbi Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

When he answered, “I Am,” the high priest tore his clothes and said “You all heard his blasphemy, what do you think?” The priests all condemned Rabbi Jesus to death. Then they began to spit at him; they blindfolded him and began hitting him with their fists. The guards finally took him away. I left as soon as I could, to come home.

“You have talked with Rabbi Jesus before, Father. Do you believe he is the Messiah?” Junior asked.

“I don’t really know, son,” Nicodemus answered. I know Rabbi Jesus is a great teacher, and he has healed many people, but to say he is the Messiah, the promised one, I just don’t know.”

Now they were walking through their front door and found, sure enough, that David was asleep in his bed. “I don’t think this is over,” Nicodemus said. “Somehow we have to stop this insanity before the Romans get involved or we’ll all be in big trouble. Let’s wake up David, eat some breakfast, and find out where the soldiers took Rabbi Jesus.”

The three ate quickly and then set out to find Jesus. Heading back toward Caiaphas’ house, the people they saw on the streets were all running in the same direction, all going to the palace of the Roman governor, a man named Pilate, so they followed the growing crowd.

When they got close to the palace, they saw the crowd surrounding the palace gate, but Rabbi Jesus was not there. Nicodemus asked one of his friends standing close by, “Where is Rabbi Jesus?”

“Roman soldiers took him inside,” he said.

“Good,” Nicodemus whispered to Junior and David. “They won’t know what to do with him, so maybe they will let him go.”

Just a few minutes later Governor Pilate came out through the gate. “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

“No not him!” one of the priests shouted. “Give us Barabbas!” Immediately from the crowd came more voices shouting, “Give us Barabbas!”

“Who is Barabbas? Nick asked his father.

“Barabbas is a rebel leader who tried to start a revolt against the Roman governor,” Nicodemus answered. “Governor Pilate won’t release him.”

But Governor Pilate motioned to the soldiers, and they took Rabbi Jesus just inside the gate. “Flog him!” he said to the soldiers. The soldiers twisted a branch full of long thorns into a crown and put it on Rabbi Jesus’ head. Blood started running down his face and neck. Then they put an old purple robe on him so he would look like a king and began slapping his face and saying, “Hail, king of the Jews.” Then they tied Rabbi Jesus to a pole and began to whip him.

David was struggling to see as the crowd pressed forward, so he turned around and walked back to a wall behind everyone, climbed it and sat down so he could see.

What he saw was that soldiers were whipping Rabbi Jesus with whips and that his back, sides and legs were bleeding. No one would stop them. They just kept whipping and whipping and whipping him!

Nicodemus and Junior stepped back to be close to David. “Make them stop, Father,” David kept saying as he began crying.

“I can’t,” Nicodemus answered, tears running down his face too. Maybe after the flogging stops, the governor will keep him inside the palace away from the crowd until they all go home.

When the soldiers finished beating Rabbi Jesus, Governor Pilate came back out to the crowd and said, “Look, I am bringing him out to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” And when the soldiers brought Rabbi Jesus out, governor Pilate shouted, “Here is the man!”

But the priests and officials shouted back, “Crucify!” “Crucify!”

“Do something, Father,” Junior said. These people respect you. They will listen to you.”

“No they won’t listen to me, Junior. They want blood and they want Jesus dead. When they started shouting “Crucify!” I remembered what the prophet Isaiah wrote hundreds of years ago, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” All the scholars know that prophesy was about the Messiah. What they are going to do proves to me that Jesus is the Messiah, as he said.

“They are really going to crucify the Messiah and kill him?” Junior asked.

“Yes,” his father answered, “and there is nothing I can do to stop them.”

By now it was about noon and Governor Pilate brought Jesus, surrounded by soldiers, back out the gate. Governor Pilate sat down on the judge’s seat next to the gate and exclaimed again, “Here is your king,”

The crowd shouted back, “Crucify him!” and then began to chant, “Cru-ci-fy him, cru-ci-fy him, cru-ci-fy him!” louder and louder.

“You want me to crucify your king?” The governor asked.

The priests closest to the front answered, “We have no king but Caesar.’

At that point the governor handed Messiah Jesus over to be crucified. But they weren’t allowed crucify anyone themselves, so Roman soldiers took charge, and led Jesus out of the city to a place for crucifixions. They even made Jesus carry his own cross until he didn’t have the strength any more. Nicodemus and his sons followed the crowd, and watched the soldiers lay him down on the cross and pound nails into his hands and feet, then lift the cross up and drop it into a hole. They also crucified two thieves, one on each side of Messiah Jesus.

After taunting Messiah Jesus some more, the crowd slowly drifted away, but Nicodemus and his sons stayed with a few others.

“Messiah Jesus submitted to death for us,” Nicodemus said after a while. “Isaiah prophesied this death. Isaiah wrote, ‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. . . He was pierced by the nails and the sword for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities, and by his wounds we are healed’.”

David started sobbing. Junior stepped over to him and embraced him, crying too, then Nicodemus wrapped his arms around them both. It was about midday, but suddenly it got dark as night. Then in the darkness they heard Jesus’ voice, loud and clear, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” They all looked up at him, saw him turn his face to them, and then his head drop down so his chin was on his chest. Nicodemus said softly, “Boys, Messiah Jesus has died.”

Watching the way Jesus died, the head soldier standing a few feet from Nicodemus turned to him and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”

Hearing this, Junior took a deep breath, put his hand on his scar and said, “Father, you are right. They killed the Messiah. He was righteous, everyone else here was wicked.”

Some time later, sitting together on the ground near the crosses, Nicodemus said, “Boys, we can’t let Messiah Jesus hang on that cross tonight and tomorrow. Let’s go home and get some spices to bury him,” so they stood up, turned and walked home together.

On their way back they caught up with a man carrying a ladder and a sackcloth. He was a friend of their father and was another member of the Sanhedrin, named Joseph. They all stopped, and Nicodemus asked Joseph, “Where are you going?”

“I went to Governor Pilate and asked permission to take Jesus’ body down from the cross and bury him in my new tomb.” Joseph said. “He gave me permission, so I’m on my way to do it.

“We’re going there too, with spices for his burial,” Nicodemus replied. “Let’s work together.”

By the time the men got Jesus’ body down from the cross, the darkness was turning to light again. Leaving the ladder, Joseph picked up Jesus body by his shoulders, and Nicodemus picked up his feet and said, boys how about you each carry an arm.” So gathering the sackcloth and the bags of spices onto their shoulders, they each took one of Jesus’ hands and all carried his body to Joseph’s tomb, a cave carved into a hillside. Two women followed them to the tomb.

Nick and David and the two women silently watched as the men wrapped Jesus’ body in spices and strips of linen from head to toe. It was nearly evening when they were finished, so without comment, they walked out of the tomb, and Joseph, with Nicodemus’ help, rolled a huge stone in front of the tomb, covering the opening. No one said a word. The men nodded to each other, and everyone went home.

The next day was Sabbath, and to Nick’s surprise, his father didn’t go to the synagogue. He stayed home. By early afternoon, David said, “Father, I need to get some fresh air. Is it OK with you if I go find my friends?”

“Yes,” his father answered, “Just be back before sunset.”

So David grabbed his slingshot and left. It felt good to run, and in no time he was at the Valley Gate. His friends, Bart, Simon and Saul were already there, and Saul said, “Hi Speedy! Did you see the crucifixion yesterday?”

“Yes I did,” David replied. “Did you?”

“I couldn’t stay,” Saul replied, “The whole thing was so brutal I started getting sick, so I went home.”

As they walked down the incline to the Kidron brook, David said, “Guys, I have an idea. There are six priests who were responsible for getting Rabbi Jesus killed. They were the ones leading the crowd, calling for Jesus to be crucified. They need to pay for their sins.”

“You have a plan, David?” asked Bart.

“Yes,” David answered. “There are four of us. We are very, very good with sling shots. I can pick one of the priests and we will learn what corner they regularly go to pray, and when they are not surrounded by people. If we come from four directions, the one of us that he is facing can attract the priest’s attention. The others can walk up within range, and sling a stone to the back or side of his head, then run in the opposite direction so we can’t be identified by anyone. Eventually we can eliminate all six. What do you think?”

“It sounds really dangerous,” said Simon, the youngest of the four.

“Yeah, it’s one thing to kill an animal, but to kill a person, six people, all priests? That would make us all criminals!” added, Saul. “And we might end up on crosses ourselves.”

Twilight was approaching and Sabbath was coming to a close when the boys returned through the Valley gate and split up to go home. David didn’t say anything about his plan to his brother or his father, but he had trouble sleeping that night.

Right at daylight David was up and dressed, then decided to go back to the tomb before going to his job, herding sheep. About a hundred yards from the tomb, he met a woman he recognized from Friday evening as one of the two women who followed his father, brother, Joseph and himself as they carried Jesus’ body to the tomb. She stopped as David approached and asked, “Aren’t you one of the men that carried Rabbi Jesus’ body to the tomb?”

“Yes,” David answered.

“Rabbi Jesus is risen!” she exclaimed, raising her hands up toward the sky, I saw him! He talked to me!”

“Am I supposed to believe you, woman? No one comes back from being dead. I know he was dead, I helped take him to this tomb.”

“I know he was dead, but now he is risen! It really is the Master. I saw the scars on his face from the crown of thorns and on his hands and feet from the nails!” she burst out. “And I recognized his voice,” she added.

“What did he say to you?” David asked.

“He called my name!” I looked up and it was him. He hugged me, then said, ‘Don’t hold on to me because I’ve not ascended to the Father. Instead, go to my brothers and tell them I’m ascending to our God.’

“I need to hurry to go tell them,” she added.

“Wait,” David said, “I’ll go with you.”

As they walked quickly, Mary said, “He told us several times that he would be tried and killed and then would rise again in three days, but we didn’t get it. Now it is clear – he is alive! A few days ago he brought his friend Lazarus back to life, now he is alive after death too!”

As they approached David’s house, Mary said, “Go tell your father and your brother that Rabbi Jesus is risen! They need to know too.”

“Thank you,” David said as he opened the door to his house.

“Father, Nick,” David shouted as he entered.

“Where did you go?” Nicodemus asked.

“I went back to the tomb, David replied. Before I got there I met Mary, one of the women who followed us when we took Rabbi Jesus’ body to the tomb to bury him. She told me that Jesus was out of the tomb, he called her name, and talked with her. She saw the scars on his face and on his hands and feet. He told her to go tell his brothers that He is alive! I came back with her to tell you.”

“Do you believe that what Mary told you is true?” David’s father asked.

“Yes, I do, Father,” David answered.

“Now I understand what Isaiah said,” Nicodemus said thoughtfully. “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied,” he quoted. “I never understood that. Now I do – Messiah Jesus is alive again!”

“Junior,” David turned and said, “Now you can ask Messiah Jesus to heal your face.”

Putting his hand on his cheek, Junior replied, “No, the old Nick was striving for a perfection I could never achieve. My scar is a mark of connection with Messiah Jesus’ death on a cross and that I belong to him. I am truly righteous because of him, and I’m happy to be known as Scarface.”

Family Discussion Questions

This story is fictional, based on John 18:19 – 20:18, a non-fictional, true account of the murder of Messiah Jesus.

Q. What words did you hear in the story that you didn’t know?

A. Give your children the meaning of each word they remember but can’t define.

Q. What was the Sanhedrin?

A. The Sanhedrin was a group of 70 leaders of the Jewish nation. Some were priests, some were respected older men and some were teachers of the Law.

Q. What does Rabbi mean?

A. The word Rabbi means Teacher or Master.

Q. Why did the question the chief priest asked Rabbi Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” make everyone so mad?

A. The leaders and especially the priests knew that the nation’s prophets promised that a Messiah, a savior, would come to deliver the people from slavery and sin, and that he would be the son of Yahweh, God, whose name was so special they referred to God as “The Blessed One.”

Q. As you listened to the story of Messiah Jesus’ trial told from David’s experiences, what were some of your thoughts and feelings?

A. Accept your children’s thoughts and feelings. It was a brutal and unfair event, and may have been overwhelming, especially for younger children. But the reality of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and resurrection sets this story apart from fairy tales, and is God’s plan for the redemption of all who believe the account of the event and ask the risen Messiah Jesus come and live in their lives.

Q. What did you think of David’s plan to get revenge on the six priests?

A. Maybe some of your children, especially boys thought this was a good idea, but it wasn’t. And notice that he forgot the plan when he heard that Jesus is alive. Notice that David didn’t have to see Messiah Jesus himself; he believed Mary’s report. This is called faith. You might remind your children of John 3:16 and Hebrews 11.

Q. Did your kids notice Junior’s responses to Messiah Jesus’ death and resurrection?

A . Junior valued the cross-shaped scar on his cheek as a symbol of his connection with Messiah Jesus and like a brand showing that he now belonged to Jesus.

Q. What do you think Jesus meant in John 3:16 when he said to Nick & David’s father, “. . .whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”?

A. Whoever will trust that Jesus’ death on a cross will pay the penalty for his or her sin – all the wrong and bad things he or she has done – will have eternal life that starts immediately and never ends.


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Copyright © Dr. Rex Johnson.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used with author’s permission.

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