Salvation was the last thing on my mind. Day in and day out, the first and only things I thought about were to “kill or be killed, to plunder or be robbed, and revolt or submit, the forbidden ‘s’ word. My life was one of constant movement, running from the Pharisees, Sadducees (I prefer to call them the harass-ees) and the like. I was always the life of my angry, ranting ‘parties;’ always demanding revenge against Harod, Caesar, whoever, it didn’t matter to me. Nothing mattered to me, I didn’t matter to me!
Before I ended up here, in the filth and mire of death row, I was always running, yelling or both. Whether it was for my life or my death, I was not sure. Rioting in the day, when I could be seen, and robbing at night, my life had become what I did for a living, a riot. Peace, what is peace? It did not exist for me and I had no desire to find out if it could. Life wasn’t great, but it was what I had made it. And at least I wasn’t a tax collector, a leper or a woman; and there are lots of those. So, as I see it, I guess I was somewhere in the middle of Caesar’s hierarchy.
I’ve been here on death row for a week because of my latest rantings. Though they have put me away for a night and a day many times before, whether a few weeks for robbery, a few days for raising a ruckus downtown or a few hours for rape, I’ve always found my way out. Many friends of mine have received slaps on the wrist like these before, but I am the first to sleep here.
For a few days, I was proud of myself. “Matthias or Judas had never been here. If I would live to tell the story, they would be proud of me,” I thought. But I didn’t care. Instead of eating bread and wine I had stolen, locusts and drips of dirty water were now my regular diet. Sleeping in my own disgusting mess, on this cold, compacted slab of dirt in this pitch black dungeon was the pit I had dug for myself. I guess I better just lie in it.
It seemed like I had spent an eternity here before anyone yelled at me from the other side of the wall, until I recognized Matt’s voice, a friend whom I had robbed with on many occasions. The last time I heard from him, he had told me of someone who might just be my room mate.
Matt - Hey Rabby, are you in there?
Rabby – Yeah, wasting away as normal. I am getting used to the taste of locusts. Hey, can you throw me anything?
Matt – Just some day old bread, I’ll try to get it through your window, it’s pretty tiny though. Hey have you heard about this guy, Jesus?
Rabby – Oh, that guy. Lots of people are talking about him. I hear he’s gonna die with me soon. He’s just another criminal like me, another worthless, useless bag of scum with no reason to live. When he gets in here, heaven knows what I’ll do to him.
Matt – But he’s not quite like that. Yeah, he may be your room mate soon, but thousands of people follow him every day. I heard that he has healed people of leprosy, allowed the lame to walk, given sight back to the blind, raised the dead and even healed people from a distance!
As Matt continued to yell from the other side of the wall, I became intrigued as never before. Though Matt had finally thrown some bread through the window, I wasn’t hungry. I was too interested to eat. This man had been charged by the Harassees with a similar crime as mine and they hoped to given my sentence for doing the exact opposite of what I had done. Instead of robbing and murdering, this man had created more of what the people needed, like bread and wine and that sort of stuff. And instead of rioting, this man had offered peace. My attitude began to change.
Rabby – He has some kind of ‘in’ with people in high places, huh? Could he get any bread or wine in here? Gee, if my cell mate can do that, I wonder if he can pick these chains apart too.
Matt – Well apparently, he’s done it all. He’s quite a magician. I’ve heard that he’s walked on water, turned water into wine and he’s even fed the thousands who follow him with a shepherd boy’s lunch.
Rabby – Well, that will definitely keep them coming back for more.
Matt – But that’s just it. He says that we don’t have to come back for more bread or water. He says he is the manna and the well spring of life.
Rabby – If he can provide all that food, that’s quite a currier service he’s running.
Matt – And the clincher is the best part. All we need to do to get all this is believe.
Rabby – Believe what?
Matt – Believe that he is who he says he is.
Rabby – Well, who is he?
Matt – He says he’s the son of his father.
Rabby – Well, that makes sense, so am I.
Matt – But that’s why the Harassees want to kill him. He says his father is . . . Yahweh!
Rabby – Well, if he ever comes in here, I’ll ask him about it.
As Matt left and I slowly gnawed my way through the tough bread he had thrown through the window, I began to wonder. “Manna and wine of life . . . Healer, even from a distance. . . Son of Yahweh. . . Well, my life looks like it will end soon. He can’t give me what I really need because he’s out there and I’m in here. And even if he could give me life for a few days, it wouldn’t matter, because we will both be dead soon. But how can he give life anyway? He’s just like me, ‘the son of his father.’ He’s a nobody.
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