This story is by Beverly G. Brown and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
A Cry in the Night
Sitting at the table, Judas was in deep thought. Jesus and his Apostles were in the third passing of the cup of the feast of the Passover and preparing to finish up the meal.
How can I satisfy all three of these groups? He wonders. Jesus, expects me to have left old friends behind and be, at least, a true disciple. He’s even willing to wash our feet! The Pharisees and Sadducees have gotten together just on the off chance, they can get me to betray him, so they can take his life; stop the wave of Jews putting their trust in him as their new leader for Good or Bad. My family of conservative, hardened, so called “rabble rousers” by Romans and Jews alike, Want me to…-
“Is it I?”, “Is it I?” The Apostles were asking Jesus.
Coming to himself, Judas turns to John and asks, “What did he say…? “
“He says, ‘There is a traitor among us!’”
Well now, there you go, JUDAS! Using my proper name. This, is why I call you ‘brother’, we don’t have to use our names, just in case there be more open ears in a hole-of-a-place like this! Why call me here so late?
“Things have moved up!! I need to meet with the, … you know.”
“So, What’s the problem? You’ll get what I promised! Thirty Pieces of silver, Or, have you no faith in my word, my brother?” whispered the, well robed, young Pharisee. Then, threw back his head and drained his bejeweled mug of its cooled beer. “Ahhh! Perfect libation for such a warm evening as this.”
“Listen! He practically commanded me to meet with your Pharisees! Take the money! Not tomorrow, but TONIGHT! I barely have time to get the message to the High Priest! It’s Passover! They won’t meet at night, will they? How can they violate the laws the… the-
Darias, rose from his place on the plush rugs scattered on the floor. Speaking in a harsh voice, as he lifts Judas by his arm, “Best you be on your way now, then. Believe it or not, they WILL be meeting TONIGHT! Where are YOUR Apostles meeting after the Passover feast?”
Judas hesitates; lowers his eyes.
“Yesss, I thought so! You know EXACTLY, where!”
They walk out into the heat of the night. “What could be better?” Darias continues, “Under the cover of darkness! They will be delighted!” He smirked, “No crowds to interfere! Surely, you’re not afraid? There WILL be an adequate host to escort you there! With spears, swords, torches and all! Haahaahhaa!”
“But, don’t be so sure of yourself. He has more power than you have seen him display.” injected Judas as he pulled his cloak over his head. “I’m not the man you think I am.”
“Oh yes! You told me. That’s probably why you’re not drinking so heavily to night. Do they know how you’re spending their ‘treasury’ funds you hold for the group? Hahahahha! Didn’t know I knew about that did you? Word gets around!” Then, he moved closer and stood nose to nose, his eyes reduced to slivers, teeth bared a bit and whispered, “You, best not fail to make that meeting tonight or YOU’ll be that Passover sacrifice”!
But Judas had one more meeting to make before Joining his apostle friends at the Garden of Olives.
Moving deftly through the crowds of holiday shoppers, Roman peace keeping troops, Jews and Gentiles all buying and selling items needed before dusk. Judas slips into a doorway along a darkened passage way of Jerusalem. The room is filled with sweet and savory spices and hot foods in preparation for the evenings solemn meal. Searching among the family members for Saul, the group leader. He is suddenly bumped by some one behind him, he turns and is directed to a back room by a figure he didn’t recognize.
Saul rises from the circle of men seated on the carpeted floor, heads covered with prayer shawls. He draws Judas aside. In lowered tones he asked!
“What kept you? The town is buzzing about that leader of yours. what’s his name, Justus? No, Jesus, yes, yes. So, everyone has heard about him; raising the Dead man Lazarus! Dead for three days, no less. Yes, and that impressive ride into the city! Everyone calling him ‘King’! He’s never owned up to that in the past has he? Palm leaves, and coats strewn on the “royal” path way! Sounds like he’s ready to join some REAL men of ACTION!!”
“Well, I hope so. I Just stopped by, briefly, to let you know, I met with our pompous contact. He still thinks this will result in a crucifixion!”
“Not if we have anything to say about it. We’re prepared to back up this fella, Jesus, if he’s serious! So, you think he has the ‘power’ or force to bring down Herod, Priests and Romans, too?”
“I know he’s capable, don’t you? Think of all the massive crowds he brings together on a moment’s notice! Healing the sick and even raising the Dead, as you said yourself! The Government hasn’t raised a hand to stop him in any case.”
They both laugh under their breath. Saul looked around to see if anyone noticed them. Judas trembles slightly as if from the cooling evening air! But, his insides were quivering by now.
“Well, we better brake this up, Judas. You get on with your plan. This is going to be a day we’ll be ready for!”
“I, I do get a feeling this Jesus… might be preparing; just in case they do take him”
“What are you trying to say! I thought you just said…”
“Yes, but lately he speaks as if we should be ready… in case things go bad”
“You, better hope not!” Saul bristled in tone and wrapped his arm around the shoulders of Judas; as if to see him off with a hug. “Don’t make a fool out of me in front of these men, tomorrow!” Or, I’ll see you don’t come back.. at all!!
The streets were nearly deserted as Judas rushed down the intertwining streets, passing windows and door ways of happy families enjoying the Holiday. All his years of strict adherence to customs and family interaction surged back. This wasn’t supposed to happen tonight!!
“What am I doing out here!” Turn back, “Turn back!” No, calm yourself, he thought. You’ll be either a dead hero or a well-loved soldier in a new kingdom! A worrier against this corrupt government AND backed by the POWER of Our God!
“So, what would you say is your purpose for being here?” Asked the High Priest, wearing a casual robe, compared to what one sees him wear, when in his full regalia performing official duties in the temple.
“I understand you need someone to lead you to the master in a more private meeting.” Said Judas.
“What does that mean to you, ‘a more private meeting’? Say what you mean. You’ve come to betray your ‘Master’ into our hands for execution! Isn’t that what you meant to say? What is your motive?”
“Do you want him or not?”
“Don’t let your slippery position here give you the impression you are free to speak to us any way you choose.” He then pulls out a sack of coins from a jar and tosses it at Judas’s dusty sandaled feet.
“Take your ‘blood money’ and get out!” Speaking to the others there! “I want everyone here, and our Roman Guards to follow him! I want no mistakes! BRING THIS MAN JESUS, BACK ALIVE! Shouted the High Priest!”
Judas was not only shaking violently but crying for all he was worth! The mob pushed and dragged Jesus down the streets toward that fatal trial; now guaranteed to take place! Jesus is going to die!
Now, alone on a side street outside a house where Jesus was taken, Judas falls to his knees and repents himself! “So, Sorry! So, Sorry…”-
He staggers to the temple; and when the Rulers refused to take back the blood money, he tosses it across the floor…
Standing on a cliff above a huge field, Judas places a corded noose around his neck. He appeared Cool and calm; except, for those determined tears flowing, uncontrolled, down his cheeks. He reaches up to tie the loose end of the cord to a low hanging branch on the tree.
A quiet voice breaks the silence! “Judas” …
A deep cry of terror in the night, broke from deep within Judas’ being. Turning to face that familiar voice, he stumbles and slips off the edge of the cliff!
Reaching up in desperation, to grab the extended hand of Jesus, he misses! His body crashes in the field below!
Jesus, holding fast to Judas’s spiritual hand, lifts him up, as he collapses in His arms…