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Dream Quest One Second Writing Prize Winner -

 Winter 2016 - 2017



of Goltry, Oklahoma - USA





By Rebecca Buller



Jesus the Nazarene stood silent, his face bruised and bloody, with his hands bound in front of him.


Joseph of Arimathea denounced the unnecessary beating of prisoners, but despite his wealth and position, admitted that his voice would go unheard.


His brown eyes narrowed, Joseph studied the young prophet who, if condemned by the Sanhedrin, could face death.


There was one minor technicality, however. Yes, the council could impose the sentence of death upon a criminal, but it didn’t have the power to actually execute the condemned man. That power fell to the Roman government. Jesus would die by crucifixion if he was perceived to be a threat to Roman authority. Romans enjoyed the splash of blood. Joseph found it appalling.


As far as Joseph was concerned, the Nazarene was harmless. Who condemned a man who had made the lame to walk and caused the blind to see? Joseph hung his head at the total injustice of it all.


His gaze roamed to Nicodemus, a fellow priest. Judging from the tight lines around the other man’s mouth, he was just as troubled by the proceedings as Joseph himself.


Joseph moved closer to his friend. Nicodemus cast him an uneasy glance, but kept his lips pressed shut.


“This is wrong,” Joseph whispered.


Nicodemus remained impassive.


“You sat with him,” Joseph said. “You spoke with him.”


Still Nicodemus kept his gave straight ahead.


“What did the Nazarene say to you?”


Finally, Nicodemus looked at Joseph and replied. “That for one to enter the kingdom of Heaven, one must be born again.”



- Page 2 –



Joseph’s brow furrowed. “But how can one be born again?” he asked.


“Not of the body,” Nicodemus clarified. “But of the spirit.”


Joseph turned his gaze back to Jesus. “You believe he is who he says he is, don’t you? The Messiah? The one the prophecies foretold?”


“My opinion matters not,” Nicodemus said. “Caiaphas will not be swayed in this.”


No, Joseph thought. The high priest wouldn’t be swayed. Jesus was a threat to their sacred laws, according to Caiaphas. A blasphemer worthy of death. Joseph was no fool and had no doubt that envy was at the root of the high priest’s hatred for Jesus. The young Galilean mesmerized crowds with his every word. Caiaphas had no such skill.


But Joseph saw nothing in Jesus that warranted a death sentence. His followers had been peaceful thus far.


Which is why this pitiful excuse of a trial was being held at night. Caiaphas was smart. He didn’t want to risk the followers of Jesus to rise in protest. If he was sentenced to death before morning, his followers would have little to no time to stage a revolt. Jesus would be hanging from a Roman cross before any sort of violent action could take place.


Not that Caiaphas should’ve feared such a thing. The Romans would crush any rebellion and spill more innocent blood.


The high priest spoke again and Joseph forced his attention back to the travesty going on before him.


“Are you the chosen one?” Caiaphas asked Jesus. “Are you the Son of God?”


Joseph didn’t dare breathe.


“It is as you say,” Jesus boldly replied. “And you shall see me coming in the clouds of heaven and sitting at the right hand of God.”


Caiaphas tore open his robe and cried, “Blasphemer!”


Joseph scraped his hand over his face and beard. Taking a step forward, he said, “This is shameful, and it brings shame to this council!” He didn’t see Nicodemus nod his head in agreement. But Joseph’s words fell on deaf ears for it was Caiaphas who spoke next.


“The sentence is death,” he pronounced.


Joseph took another step, but felt a tug on the left sleeve of his robe. He glanced back.


Nicodemus dropped his hand and shook his head.



- Page 3 –



His friend was right. They could do nothing.


For one moment, Jesus locked eyes with Joseph before they shoved him forward. Members of the Sanhedrin followed as Jesus was led away, likely to be taken to Governor Pilate.


A hand touched Joseph’s shoulder. Nicodemus. The two of them were alone.


Joseph squeezed his eyes shut briefly. Would Pilate bow to the pressure of the Sanhedrin and order the Nazarene crucified? Joseph inwardly scoffed at such a notion. Of course not. Pilate was a politically ambitious man loyal only to Rome. He would allow Jesus to live if for no other reason than to taunt the Sanhedrin. He had already threatened to shut down the temple if the crowds continued to grow disruptive during the Passover festivities.


Joseph hung his head. He had no desire to witness any more of the night’s proceedings.

“Is this God’s will?” Joseph asked Nicodemus. He didn’t know whether he expected his friend to answer or not.


The other man sighed. “If it is, it’s not for us to question. We must let it be. God’s will be done.”

Nicodemus moved slowly up the steps that led from the “courtroom” where the Nazarene’s trial had just been held, leaving only Joseph remaining.


If Caiaphas had his way, Jesus would be crucified tomorrow. A man could hang upon a cross for days before he finally succumbed to suffocation. It was a sordid spectacle. Many times Roman soldiers would even cast lots for the criminal’s personal effects.


Would they do the same with Jesus? The man was no criminal. He spoke of the kingdom of God. He spoke of love. He spoke of…the truth.


What was this truth?


Joseph walked up the same steps Nicodemus had just moments earlier. He pleaded with God to open his heart to this unknown truth.


Was Jesus the Messiah? The perfect Lamb of God? He was compassionate and a worker of miracles, a humble carpenter from Galilee. Would God send Israel’s redemption, the world’s redemption, in the form of such a man? It wouldn’t be the first time God had used someone seemingly ordinary to do something extraordinary.


If so, as Nicodemus said, who was he to question it? So perhaps this wasn’t the end but the beginning of something greater than any of them.


- 30 –


About the author:

My name is Rebecca Buller and I work for an insurance company in Oklahoma. Last year, I was a semifinalist in the New Millennium Writings Contest. I enjoy hot cups of tea and spending time with my cats.