"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." Matthew 7:13
Jesus said..."I am the gate..." John 10:9



Death’s Death

by G. K. Werner

            They met at last, face to face on a sun-scorched hill overlooking the ancient city, as good a place as any for two such as they, bound together, the deadliest of enemies.
*
        The sun did not touch him, could not, wrapped in shadow as he was, a void on the barren hill, a darkness no light could pierce.
        Men raised his enemy before him, an enigma with outstretched arms atop this hill called Skull.  He watched his enemy intently.  He did not trust the man.
        He watched the man’s eyes as they scanned the ancient city on the ridge, its white walls and roof-top pavilions, the invaders’ painted houses, the columned temple on the rock, the shabbier structures like children’s blocks tumbled around its base, the refuse dump outside the walls where the fire burned eternally.
He watched the man’s eyes as they caressed the crowd at his nailed feet, men, women and children; some weeping, others taunting, some dazed, others celebrating.  The man loved them still despite what they had done to him, even the rulers, the chief priest and the teachers of the law.  Even the soldiers with their hammers and spears!  A senseless love!  The man had forgiven them all.  Perhaps he had gone mad.  It did not matter.
For he had this man at last!  There could be no doubt.  Could there?
The man had tricked him before.  More than once!  At the man’s birth, the king had prepared a banquet of young male life, yet the infant had eluded his grasp.  In the desert, years later, starvation and thirst failed to deliver the man to him.  Forty days!  Enough to claim the strongest.  But not this man!  On the lake, when the storm should have carried the man into his arms, the man had rebuked the wind itself, and the raging waters—nature that had previously bowed to him alone.  At cliff’s edge, when the mob was about to hurl the man over, the man had nonchalantly walked away, straight through their violent anger, as though his life were his own to withhold or give.  And again, most recently, in the city when the man foolishly claimed to be God and the Jews were about to stone him.  Just walked away!  Unmolested!  Each time he knew he had had the man.  Each time, the man had slipped through his fingers.  Terrifying events to witness!  But not the worst.
            The man had cheated him of other lives.  The centurion’s servant. The boy with the evil spirit.  The royal official’s son, dying in Capernaum.  More lepers than he cared to remember.
Most frightening of all, the man had snatched lives back.  Jairus’ little girl.  The widow’s son.  Snatched them from his dark embrace.  For the time being at least.  Yes!  Only for the time being.  But Lazarus!  That had shaken him worst of all.  Lazarus had been dead over four days.  The ramification of such authority was too devastating to contemplate.
            But he had the man now!  Surely, he had him now.
            “Come down if you can!” someone in the crowd shouted.  “If you really are who you say you are.”
            “He saved others,” someone else mocked.  “But he cannot save himself.”
        That was the consensus of opinion.  Hopefully they were correct.  How could it be otherwise?  Could any man survive the Roman cross?
*
            The sun stopped shining.  No clouds.  No eclipse.  No explanation.  A false night in day’s midst.  The earth starless, moonless blind.  Could this man have caused it?
He watched the man intently.  Watched and waited, wrapped in shadow, a darkness deeper than night.
        Suddenly, the man was with him.  “It is finished!” he said, and there he was, embracing the darkness that embraced him, as the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open.
        No less astonished were the soldiers who had come to hasten death by breaking the man’s legs, only to find him dead already.  One of them pierced his side with a spear causing a rush of blood and water, confirming that the man, beyond doubt, had departed the body.
        Of his own volition!  How could that possibly be?
As well ask how it was that deathly cold felt a chill.
*
            And he could not hold him.  On the third day, the man departed for the land of the living, returning to his resurrected body, showing himself before many, giving many convincing proofs that he lived, his tomb left empty.  Many of the man’s own who had died were raised to first-life like Lazarus and also went into the city.
        “I am the resurrection and the life,” the man had told Martha, Lazarus’ sister—words that came back now to haunt and convict.  “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
        Wrapped in shadow, pierced by light, Death wept.


Copyright 2003, Geoffrey and Virginia Werner. All rights reserved.
Originally published in Tower of Ivory, Vol. 3, Issue 1, 2003.

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