Jesus slowly lifted his head and opened his eyes.  He stared straight at Malchus, who was still at the rear of the crowd against the city wall.  Suddenly, Malchus felt pierced by Jesus' gaze.  Just as in the Garden of Gethsemane, Malchus's mind became crisply illuminated.

"Do not forget in the darkness what you have heard in the light."

Instantly, Malchus glanced at Zara.  She did not appear to have heard anything.  He looked back to Jesus, who was till gazing at him.  Impossible.  Malchus blinked to squeeze the tears of disbelief from his eyes.

He had to be simply remembering something Jesus had said.  He thought for an instant but could not remember Jesus every saying these words.  Was Jesus communicating to him?  Now?  From the cross?  Malchus was confused.  The thought did not even have Jesus' voice attached to it, yet the statement rang out so clear; the words so specific.  Still held by Jesus' gaze, Malchus focused on the thought as if it were a message.  What light?  What darkness?

As soon as his mind asked the questions, he remembered the garden had been physically dark when his ear, and everything else, had been healed.  But it was also there that his mind had become enlightened and, though now the sun was shining brightly, this was the darkest moment he had ever experienced. 

He had barely digested that thought when another message came.  This time he could hear Jesus' voice clearly in his mind, and the words were so personal that his weakened knees almost gave out.

"Free in Me."

This was impossible.  Jesus had heard his thoughts?  Hope suddenly gripped him, but he was still terribly afraid of doing anything about it.  The Romans were standing ready to brutalize anyone who would interfere, and the priests would surely remember any protest or claim and report it back to Caiaphas.  He felt like a coward before the Messiah who could read and speak into his mind, and Malchus looked downward for a second in shame.  But then he wondered why Jesus didn't speak into the soldiers' minds, reveal his powers to them?

The only answer that made any sense to Malchus was that he was going insane and, under the stress of the moment, was cracking.  He looked back to Jesus in the hope of another response, but Jesus now appeared to be speaking to one of the thieves.

Malchus and Zara stayed for hours.  A small group, probably family, was finally allowed to approach the cross.  Jesus did little more than raise his battered face and speak a few words before the group fell to their knees in sobbing grief.  Malchus could bear no more.  He had come to see supernatural life, not pitiful death.  Maybe it would have been better if he had never gone to Gethsemane in the first place.  At least then he would not have had such high hopes, and he would not now be in the depths of such crushing despair.

Malchus's gaze strayed from what now looked like an everyday crucifixion and was suddenly startled.  Jonathan was still there.  He and a few of the temple guard had drifted toward the Damascus Gate and, despite the arrow shot of distance between them, appeared to be staring at him.  Malchus looked away and instinctively drew Zara closer to him, presuming Jonathan might still be refining his list.

He pulled Zara by the hand and slowly walked away in the direction of Caiaphas's, looking back once to assure himself that nothing had changed with Jesus.  Meanwhile, the doves continued to swoop off the city wall in the pleasant sunlight.  Good for them, he thought.

 

© 2002 by William Griffiths.  Malchus.  Used with permission by Cook Communications Ministries.  Not reproducible and not downloadable.  All rights reserved.