Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Story - Part 2

Sorry for taking so long to post this next part!

In case you are wondering, this story does not end on Resurrection Sunday, and I will post the next few parts when I can, as they do take place after the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

This part introduces my second character, Eitan, a young Jewish temple guard.  He and his two fellow guards have been assigned the duty of guarding the tomb of Jesus of Nazereth.

My reasoning for portraying the guards as Jewish, as opposed to the traditionally portrayed Romans, is that Pontius Pilate, when asked to provide security for the grave, told the elders that they "have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." (Matt. 27:65)  When the guards reported back after the resurrection, they reported to the Jewish elders instead of the Roman authorities.  For this reason, I decided to portray them as Jewish.  This does not, of course, mean I am right, but I think it is a plausible reasoning.

~*~

     Pale, silver light radiated from the waning, full moon, painting the land with the mysterious, delicate hand of night. Eitan's brown eyes slowly swept over the scene before him as they had all night long; faint, dappled shadows, cast from the shade of the olive trees, patterned the garden ground and seemed to morph and meld with the slightest breeze.
     The young man shifted his rigid stance and glanced at his fellow guards, resting by the warmth of a small fire not ten feet to his left. With a quiet sigh, he rolled his stiff shoulders and adjusted his grip on the shaft of his spear. Nahash glanced up from the fire.
     “What? You're not tired yet, are you?” he questioned dryly, breaking their two hours of silence. Eitan cast him a wry look.
     “You're not ready to take my place yet, are you?” he retorted. He felt a chill run down his back and glanced over his shoulder at the cold, unmoving tomb behind him. Yawning and stretching, Nahash stood to his feet while Kalev, a middle-aged man and the eldest in their group, settled back against a tree, catching Eitan's wary motion.
     “That great rock took seven men to push it in place,” he spoke, his low, gruff voice startling Eitan. “They even put a seal over it. So, no one will be getting out.” At the last statement, he folded his arms across his chest and gave a tired half-smile. Eitan stepped over to the fire as Nahash took his place before the tomb, managing a weak chuckle at his elder's comment. Nahash shuddered visibly, standing before his post and staring at the tomb.
     “Ugh.. Don't speak such things!” he frowned. “Surely you've heard what the people have been saying...” Eitan sat down by Kalev then turned his gaze back to Nahash, curious. Kalev snorted derisively.
     “Hah! Those tales are nothing more than worn nerves!” he spoke sharply. Nahash crossed his arms and shivered, ignoring Kalev's outburst. The older man sat up and stared into the fire. “With all that happened yesterday, people are easily frightened-- and provoked.” He narrowed his eyes. “A Roman probably put that in their minds, anyhow.” Eitan glance from one man to the other.
     “What are you talking about?” Nahash turned to him in disbelief.
     “You haven't heard?” Warily, Eitan shook his head. Settling back again, Kalev closed his eyes.
     “Get ready for a wild, new 'wives' tale,'” he remarked sardonically. “And, you,” he pointed at Nahash without opening his eyes, “do not forget that you are on watch.”
     “You remember how the earth shook yesterday.” Nahash did not have to ask; Eitan nodded. “Some people claim that, when the earth shook, some of the tombs opened.” He glanced at the stone nervously.       “They say the dead were raised. Different people, all through the city, say they have seen the dead among them.”
     Eitan felt a thrill of fear at the mention of such strange, unbelievable happenings. Kalev opened his eyes and rubbed his bearded chin thoughtfully.
     “A lot of things happened yesterday,” he spoke, his fiery tone subdued. “I think we ought to simply do our best in the service of our God, and leave such things to Him and His priests.” At that, the three fell silent, each lost in his own thoughts.
     Shifting his position so he rested on his elbow, Eitan stared out past the fire, returning, in his mind, to the great temple of Jerusalem. It had been the day of Pesach, the Passover, and Jews from all over the Roman Empire had migrated back to the city of Jerusalem to observe this feast in the land of their ancestors. For days, the city had been swollen by the great number of the faithful and, then, the temple and it's courts were flooded with the presentation of the Pesach sacrifice: the perfect, unblemished lamb.
     Eitan recalled the scene without trouble; the great din of bleating, shouts, and cries had overwhelmed his senses while the harsh, metallic scent of blood rose steadily as lamb after lamb was slain. However, this was a relative peace compared to what happened next. Everything seemed magnified as the very foundations of the earth began to shake; screams of terror sounded amidst the now startled bleating while people and sheep alike ran for cover. It was then that Eitan turned. He did not remember what prompted him to look behind him, but when he did, he saw something that he would never forget.
     While the rumbling earth, crying people, and vocal beasts almost drowned it out, Eitan could still hear the ripping of the great, purple veil that hung before the Holy of Holies. In a moment of stark terror, the young temple guard had dropped to his knees and covered his head, realizing he had seen within the holiest place on earth, the place where the presence of God Himself rested. The very thought filled him with a terror that chilled him to his soul.
     “Eitan?”
     With a start, Eitan met Kalev's eyes. The older Jew eyed his fellow guard uncertainly.
     “Are you well?” he questioned slowly. Eitan lowered his eyes quickly and sought to calm his pulse; he swallowed, then raised his head with a nod.
     “Yes... I'm fine.” He exhaled quietly. “Just... I just need to rest.”
      Turning away, he raised his gaze to the night sky, praying for the day to come.

~*~

We hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ with their friends and family.  Don't let the true purpose of this holiday be lost amongst the chocolate bunnies and colorful eggs.

Here is a song our church is singing on Easter.  May these words always be on our hearts, all year long!



"Why do you seek the living One among
among the dead?  He is not here, but He
has risen."
~Luke 24: 5b-6a

3 comments:

Jody said...

Great job Julia, love the details. You are so good at that. Wonderful.
In His Grace,
Mom

Sam said...

Sorry this is such a late comment.
I've really enjoyed these story segments, Julia. The writing is terrific and gripping. The story is also very good.

Julia Catherine said...

Thank you very much, Lady Sam, and you too, Mum!
-Julia