Monday, February 10, 2014


     It was cold, the breath out of Ezra's and the donkey's mouths turned into fine white mist as they made their way from Golgotha. Ezra did not feel the cold. He didn't feel anything. Time to time he would look at the body next to him and check if it was still alive. 
    The day before, he went to the pit where Barabbas and Jesus were kept, to get his bother. He could hardly conceal the excitement, that his efforts saved Barabbas, and was making plans for them to get out of Jerusalem. As Ezra approached the pits, he saw that they were guarded by a couple of Roman soldiers. He knew them from the dealings in his shop, in fact, both of them owed him money. They greeted him brusquely and went back to their watch. Ezra called into the pit. There was no answer. On the second try, another voice replied: "He is not moving, you need to come down here!" Ezra demanded a ladder to be lowered into the pit. By the dim light he saw his brother sitting in the corner of a filthy cave. Jesus huddled at the opposite wall, looking at what was happening with a growing concern. 
     Barabbas didn't stir to Ezra's voice. His eyes were open, but they were not seeing anything anymore. It didn't look like he was mistreated. He was just dead! Ezra fell on his brother's body. He moaned in agony of the loss, wept and swore at the Romans.The guards poked their heads into the pit to see, what was taking so long. At the sight of Ezra clutching his brother's body, they climbed inside to investigate. Jesus had to hold the big man back from attacking them, so incensed was the pawn broker. The Romans climbed out and began to discuss, what course of action would be appropriate. They were afraid to admit to Pilate that a pardoned prisoner died on their watch. One of them even came back to make sure that Barabbas was really dead. He approached Ezra, who was holding his only sibling's body, cautiously. Ezra growled at him that, yes, Barabbas was gone, and, no, they should wait with letting someone else know about it. An outrageous plan began to take shape in his head, to avenge Barabbas and to save Jesus! 
     The next day, early, Jesus was taken out of the pit. A huge cross was lowered on his back, bowing him to the ground. He tried to walk under the cross, fell, rose again and began to inch his way through the gathered crowd. Some were crying and berating the Romans for treating their countryman like that, but most were goading Jesus on, pelting him with rotten fruit and offal. Ezra followed Jesus' path on a donkey-drawn cart. Step by step, the agonizing journey drew to the end. Ezra rode ahead of the crowd to the sight of the impending crucifixion, He tied down the donkey there, hoisted the wrapped body of his brother which he brought with him  on his shoulders and went to meet the Romans who were awaiting Jesus. They were the same pair that guarded the pit last night. Ezra promised them that he would forgive their debt and even give them more money, if they help him to pull off the switch. They eagerly grabbed bags with golden coins and stuffed them in their clothing under the armor. Next, they unwrapped Barabbas. hid him under a large cloth and waited for Jesus to arrive. 
     He was hardly able to pull himself the last few yards. He fell under the cross and didn't move until the Romans lifted it off of him. Somewhere on his trek he got a huge gash on his side, maybe, from being hit by the cross. Among the chaos, the guards managed to stow his inert form under the cloth and get Barabbas' body out instead. 
     Ezra watched impassively, as his brother was nailed to the cross. His hand was digging into his chest, though, but pain hardly registered in his inflamed mind. The hours passed. He sat on the cart and watched, until unrecognizable now body was taken off. Neither Jesus' mother, nor any of his followers realized that it was not him. They, finally, took him away for burial.

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