The night was silent. A shroud draped the garden like the weight of a heavy blanket. Slivers of moonlight peered through the trees and washed over the man kneeling. The heart inside His chest thumped like a drum, overcome with wrenching emotion. Drops of blood slowly trickled down His face as He looked up to pray.
“Father, there must be another way. I just can’t believe after everything I’ve done, this is how it’s all going to end. I haven’t done anything wrong. Please. Provide a different way.”
He stood to His feet and returned to the men He considered His closest friends and brothers. They had promised to stay awake and pray with their Teacher. They were all sleeping.
Jesus shook His head. “I should have known. Why are you guys sleeping? The time has come. Let’s go.”
They started to leave when suddenly the darkened night was flooded with the glow of flickering torches. A group of men approached Jesus and His disciples. He noticed Judas walking towards Him. There is the one who will betray me. I don’t know why I gave him the chance.
Judas walked up to Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. “Greetings, Rabbi.”
“I can’t believe you’re doing this, Judas. After everything I’ve done for you, how could you betray me? And with a holy kiss? Unbelievable.”
As the soldiers reached out to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and attacked. He swung blindly and struck one of the servants, cutting off his ear. The man cried out in agony and dropped to the ground. Jesus walked over and picked up the severed ear. “Your name is Malchus, right?”
The man nodded, his face clouded in pain.
“Why are you doing this? You know I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m an innocent man, and here you are to arrest me and shackle me in chains. Don’t you see how unfair this is? I could easily heal your ear, but you know what? I believe you need to think about what you’ve done. Let me know when you decide to change your ways, and we’ll talk about the ear.”
Jesus dropped the ear to the ground and raised His hands in surrender. The men began to punch Him in the face and stomach. They spit on Him as they placed Him in heavy chains. They brought Him before the Sanhedrin where He would be questioned.
One of the men looked at Jesus and sneered. “Tell us if you are indeed the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus nodded. “Of course I am. You know all the things I’ve done. How else could I have performed miracles, healed people, and raised anyone from the dead?”
The man slowly retreated and began to tear his robes. “Blasphemy. We don’t need any other witnesses. He has spoken blasphemy with his own mouth. What do the rest of you think?”
“He deserves death,” they shouted.
“Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute,” Jesus said. “Are you kidding me? Death? Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?”
Without another word, they took Jesus to stand before Pilate for sentencing. He was beaten, bloody, and hardly recognizable.
Pilate stared at Him. “Are you King of the Jews?”
“Yes,” Jesus answered. “This isn’t exactly how royalty should be treated, is it?”
“Do you hear all the things they are saying about you? Don’t you have anything to say for yourself?”
“I have done nothing wrong. I’m innocent and this is completely unfair. No one will listen, though. I’ve tried to tell them.”
Pilate stood before the crowd. “What shall I do with Jesus, Who is called the Christ?”
In unison, the crowd erupted into shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him! Give us Barabbas!”
Jesus shook His head and cried out to the crowd. “Are you serious? You want Barabbas? He’s a murderer. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Pilate allowed the soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip constructed of bone fragments, glass, and pieces of rock. They tore away His flesh with every strike. There wasn’t much left of a man once they had finished. They dragged Him from the courtyard and threw Him to the ground. Two soldiers walked over with a cross and forced Jesus to stand to His feet and begin to carry it.
With every labored step, Jesus was hit with sticks, punched in the face, and cursed. They started up Via Dolorosa, and Jesus reached His breaking point.
“That’s it. I’m done,” He said as the cross fell to the dusty ground. He looked up towards Heaven. “Father, I know this is what You want me to do, but I just can’t. These people don’t deserve anything but death. I am completely innocent, yet they are treating me like a common criminal. I mean, come on. They wanted to free Barabbas. Barabbas, the murderer. It’s ridiculous and not fair at all. All I ever did was help them. Don’t they realize who I am? I chose to lower myself to their human level, become a man, and walk in love. Look what it got me. They don’t appreciate anything I’ve done.”
The soldiers stared in disbelief. They looked at each other, unsure how to proceed.
Jesus walked down the path away from everyone else and raised His hands. “Okay, Father. Take me back up. I’m done. These people have hurt and abused me more than anyone should ever have to endure. I know what they are going to do. They are going to laugh in my face as they hammer rusty nails through my hands and feet. Do you really think there is any hope at all for these people? They don’t care about You, me, or righteousness. Let them figure it out on their own. I want nothing more to do with it. I don’t care if my blood, my sacrifice, would reconcile them back to You. They don’t deserve it. Let them see what Hell is all about.”
My eyes filled with tears as I finished writing this alternate version of what could have happened. Just think about where we would be right now had Jesus acted like us instead of love during those dark hours. He had every right to behave exactly how you just read. He was completely innocent, yet He knew what it meant to die on that tree. He could have easily ended up on some talk show as a victim. We are reconciled back to the Father because of love.
Jesus said to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. If we couldn’t walk through that same situation just as He did, what are we doing? Are we living for Him or only for ourselves?
We get so wrecked when people treat us wrong, lie to us, betray us, and try to hurt us. It’s time to give up all the rights we think we have and become love.
If we don’t see words or actions in the life of Jesus, they shouldn’t be in ours either.