This is a sequel to my Christmas Story Sara’s Joy. To read Sara’s Joy Click Here. Josiah is Sara’s son. This is 33 years later and Sara is now 41.
Josiah kept pushing through the crowd looking for an opening to peep and watch what was happening. His being small wasn’t helpful to him at all today as he couldn’t see over the shoulders everywhere. All he could do was push through to near the front and peep through the trouser holes of whomever stood in front of him till the Roman Soldiers came to push the onlookers back and a movement caused the crowd to scatter and regroup. His mother had told him not to come but how couldn’t he? How could he not be present when Jesus of Nazareth was being tried by the Romans?
His relationship with Jesus was a special one considering that he was only a boy of 9 years yet they shared a special connection. Josiah remembered the first time he had seen this Jesus of Nazareth. He had accompanied his mother to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The groom was a very influential society member and the crowd gathered at his wedding was astonishing. People from everywhere came as far as Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem and it was also rumored that one of the wise men from the East had attended. This were the same wise men he had never seen but his Mother Sara told him she had seen the night the same Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem where her dad was an Innkeeper. His mother had made sure to tell him the story almost every night of how she helped the birth of a mighty baby. Since it was his mother who told him, he had every reason to believe Jesus wasn’t normal so he spent his days dreaming of meeting Jesus till that wedding in Cana in Galilee. Halfway through the wedding, the wine had run out and that was a bad Omen even his 6-year-old self-understood what disgrace it wrought when wine finished during your wedding. Then Jesus’ mother who Josiah’s own mother had been talking to had told Jesus the wine was finished. From where he was, he couldn’t make out the conversation but the next thing he saw was the servants filling the 6 ceremonial cleaning type jars with water. Then Jesus had asked the chief Servant to take a cup out of one of the jars to the Master of Ceremony. Immediately the Master of Ceremony tasted the supposed water, he was immediately excited and the servant who went to him also tasted only to discover it was wine. Immediately the thirsty guests begun shuffling for this wine water and little Josiah tried to find Jesus but he was already gone.
From that day he had made of habit of following Jesus of Nazareth around. After school, immediately he was done with Lessons from his Rabbi, he would run and find where Jesus was and listen to him teach, preach and heal people. He couldn’t understand most of what he said, but he knew Jesus was truly great all the miracles he saw were proof enough.
Then that day just last year he had encountered Jesus again and even touched him. As usual, he had briefly stopped by home after school to pick up his lunchbox. This particular day, his mother was going to see Jesus too but he couldn’t wait for her, he heard Jesus was nearby so he ran ahead with his lunch box. Jesus talked on and on for 5 hours straight and Josiah listened silently with the crowd his lunch forgotten then Jesus’ disciples had come round asking for who had food. That was Josiah’s chance to talk to Jesus so he excitedly waved his hands. He was taken to Jesus who asked him for his lunch box. Josiah didn’t even think before he gave Jesus the box and stood beside him as Jesus lifted the basket and prayed, then asked his disciples to share the food. Everyone ate and was filled. The people were so much! Josiah had looked to the far left and far right and there were people everywhere like the sands of the earth all eating and he had only given Jesus 5 Loaves of bread and 2 fish! Josiah couldn’t even eat; he had experienced a life miracle! From where he was near Jesus he found his mother’s eyes and she gave him a wink. The baby she helped delivered was really a great man!
After that day, Josiah only followed Jesus more and listened to him. He had heard from everywhere how many times the Chief Priests tried to arrest Jesus why they didn’t like him, he didn’t know. He didn’t see why anyone should hate such a great teacher who preached the opposite Love! He had even heard from his mother the day Jesus had almost been stoned, she had cried hard that day but that was nothing compared to today…
How things quickly changed this week Josiah didn’t understand. Just on Sunday, he and the other kids had joined the whole city as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouting Hosanna in the highest and spreading their cloaks on the road for him to ride on. That was just Sunday but today 5 days later as early as 6:45 am here they were all awaiting Pilates verdict. This case had been especially long very unlike Pilate who usually made prompt decisions. Today he had started by 5 a.m and yet there was no decision.
Just then the Roman Soldiers came, as usual, to push people back and Josiah had to quickly reposition himself. Pilate had come out 2 times already the first time to tell the Chief Priests he had found no charge against Jesus and the second time he brought Jesus out for a public beating. That was when Josiah had finally cried seeing this great man being beaten like he was pulp with the Roman cane he had only seen from afar until today. The long leather thong studded with bits of lead and sharpened pieces of bone. That cane was a sign of dread and doom to every Israelite irrespective of age but yet they flogged Jesus with it. That Jesus was still alive and could still talk fueled Josiah’s believe that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man. Normally all the Jews subjected to that particular flogging didn’t live long enough to tell the story but yet he lived through it.
Just then Pilate came out for the third time and released the verdict. Jesus was to be crucified and Barabbas released. The same Nefarious Barabbas was being released by request of the same Chief Priest he troubled and switched for Jesus, had the leaders lost their minds! Josiah couldn’t believe his ears. His mother fell to her knees beside him, she also couldn’t believe it. That baby she had helped deliver was being crucified! It had to be harder on her than it was on him. Josiah still didn’t want to miss out on the miracle Jesus of Nazareth would perform to save himself. He had actually wondered with others why he hadn’t saved himself yet but remembering the story of how he left Lazarus dead 4 days, Josiah was sure it was just for Gods glory. Quickly he followed as Jesus carried his cross. Jesus was suffering truly. With all the wounds already afflicted, he was yet made to carry his heavy cross. Josiah wished he could help but he wasn’t strong enough. Where were all the men who shouted Hosanna on Sunday?
Finally, one Simon of Cyrene took the cross for a moment. The relief on Jesus’ face was evident but why won’t save himself! He had raised a dead man but yet he wouldn’t stop himself from becoming one, it was all strange to everyone. Finally, they reached the place of crucifixion and it only seemed to get more crowded. It was just 9 a.m but the sun was slowly creeping back beyond the clouds and darkness was returning. This was something that hadn’t happened before; everyone seemed to look at Jesus then look to the sky and try to make sense of what was happening. Could he be planning a miraculous sky parade?
Josiah suddenly heard the women near the cross screaming and rushed in that direction. The Roman Soldiers were pinning nails into Jesus’ hands. One look at the iron nail tearing through Jesus’ flesh and Josiah couldn’t take it too. He quickly turned away and hugged his mother tight! Finally, they hoisted the cross up and the sun completely disappeared. Darkness overcame and everyone watched in awe and eager anticipation.
An old Prophet was telling everyone Jesus was about to fulfill the last part of the Prophecies. Josiah’s Rabbi had taught him the prophecies regarding the Messiah and so far Jesus had fulfilled all. If he died now then he was undoubtedly the messiah. The sky’s darkening was abnormal too. The truth hit Josiah like a comet, why hadn’t he figured this out before? Jesus was the Messiah! Immediately he started running through the crowd shouting, “He’s the Messiah, He’s the Messiah” but nobody would take notice of him. He ran towards the cross and shouted looking up at Jesus “You’re the Messiah” Jesus looked straight in his eyes and gave a weak nod. Josiah couldn’t believe it, Jesus had confirmed to him he was the Messiah! He couldn’t keep the joy to himself he ran to his mother and told her what had just happened. She joined him in excitement but the sorrow of the moment prevailed.
10 minutes later, Jesus shouted, “it is finished” and bowed his head. He was dead. The temple guards ran to the place of crucifixion and announced that the curtain separating the main temple from the Holy of holies had torn into two. Torn? Impossible. That curtain weighed a lot and was bigger than any single man could carry. Tall and wide, thicker than a human hand. His Rabbi had once told him it took 300 Priests to move that curtain and now it was torn! Then almost simultaneously, the tombs at the bottom of the Hillside also opened. Everyone stood in awe, Josiah hugging his mother he had already seen enough strange things this morning, he was the only child around here.
2 days later
Josiah was feeding his little lamb when he heard the gate burst open. Mary Magdalene his mother’s good friend ran inside straight into the house. What would make Mary Magdalene who was one of those obviously more shaken than others by Jesus’ death run into his house? Hadn’t she just stopped by this morning before going to perfume the tomb? Josiah’s curiosity got the better of him and he walked into the house just in time to hear her shouting, “he’s alive! He’s alive! Sara He’s alive! He spoke to me” Josiah couldn’t see his mother make an attempt to speak so he asked, “Jesus is alive?”
“Yes!” Mary Magdalene answered as she took his hands and broke into a dance. Jesus was alive! He had fulfilled the Prophecy he made himself that he would rise again! Josiah was extremely happy and followed Mary Magdalene to meet the disciples. He had to see Jesus.
5 hours later
Josiah slumped on his bed. Today had been a long day with a fusillade of emotions mostly happy ones. Till he died he would make sure he told the story of this Jesus of Nazareth and one day he too, like the Criminal Crucified beside him will be in Paradise with Jesus!
Thank you for reading! Happy Easter and may you be motivated to pay Gods precious gift foward by being a voice to the nations! Amen