Malchus the Slave, a story for Holy Week (part 2)

Back in the high priest’s chamber, Malchus stands waiting for his next orders.  His head is bowed, eyes to the ground by law; his breathing is shallow still, his thoughts skimming along the surface of the sounds of accusation breaking over and around him.  Sounds he hears with two good ears.

Ridiculous, wild statements, outright lies, preposterous tales fall to the floor around Jesus, but don’t seem to touch him. That’s the carpenter’s name, then.  He’s heard stories about a Jesus. This is him? Finally one claim–“He said, ‘Destroy the temple and in three days I’ll rebuild it!'”–rang true.

Caiaphus standing in his weighty robe of authority, uses his most commanding, intimidating voice. “I order you, by the living God, to tell us the truth. Are you the Messiah, the son of God?”

No one could evade or lie before that voice.  And so Jesus spoke, calm and matter of fact.  “You have said so.” 

Malchus could feel his body relax, the pent-up breath escaping in relief.  Yes!  of course.  He was Messiah…no other explanation.  But what was that sound tearing at his ears?  Malchus shifted his eyes to his master to see the high priest’s gorgeous robe slide sideways and fall slowly, heavily to the floor, the frayed threads waving in the air where Caiaphus had ripped it in his rage.

“Blasphemy!”  The word echoed off the marble walls as if a hundred mouths had spewed it out in all directions.  Malchus fought the urge to cover his ears; so newly healed, he felt the one was fragile somehow…he hated the violent sound to enter it.

He stole a quick upturned glance at the carpenter, his healer, and found that Jesus’ calm gaze met his, a sad smile playing about His lips for instant.  Why didn’t He say something, this miracle man?  A man who could do such things must be from God.

A new wave of cries broke out around him–“Death!”  They were all shouting now.  Curses and blows, ugly laughter and cruel taunts fell on the Master.  Malchus heard his own thoughts call the carpenter so–Master.

Yes, He is my true master.  O how can I serve Him?  Can I tell them what He did?  Will they listen to me?  But as he lifted his head and drew a deeper breath, willing himself to speak aloud (a thing forbidden), the high priest bade him go and fetch another robe and take the ruined one away.

Hours later his brother bondsmen found him huddled in a dark corner of the house, the ripped gown bunched about his head. He’d cried himself to sleep, the robe still tear-wet and snot-stained.  His hands cradled the cloth around his two good ears, as if to stop all sound.

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