The walk toward judgement was a long one, as he made his way through the crowded street. Energy was in the air. Something monumental was about to take place. As one foot fell in front of the other, he looked around, taking note of the extravagant buildings on either side – constant reminders that he was in the midst of a magnificent and powerful kingdom. Among the thousands of strangers, several people from the crowd caught his eye. They were his friends, men he had discipled for several years. His mother stood among them as well. But they could not come with him. No, he was quite alone.
Two large intimidating figures escorted him along the path, although they were not needed. He went willingly. There was no other choice. Keeping his head down most of the way, he soon found himself unable to go any further. The road had stopped. In its place was a grand staircase, leading up to a building that dwarfed all the others. At the top of the staircase rested a lavish chair, in which the ruler of the realm elegantly sat. The eyes of the ruler turned to evaluate him as he approached, making his way ever-so-slowly up the steps. He was certainly nothing impressive. It was almost unthinkable that a man of such status could approach one so important – even if it was for the purpose of establishing judgement.
Finally, he reached the top of the staircase and turned around to face the crowd, which had followed in behind him to the bottom of the steps. They began to murmur among themselves in eager anticipation of the sentence. He glanced to both sides, finding his escorts nowhere to be seen. And, just when he thought he was alone, a voice from behind read out the crimes leveled against him. The list was long – longer than he had ever imagined it could be.
He took a deep breath of cool air, letting the magnitude of the situation sink in. Each of the accusations warranted death. This was it.
Suddenly, the list of crimes came to an end, and he was jolted by the pounding silence. His heart was beating, and images of a cross flashed in his head.
…But he was not the one who hung upon it.
Just then, his vision was interrupted, and a strangely familiar voice spoke up from behind:
“You stand innocent of these charges…You are free.”
It was too much to comprehend.
Each one of the charges read against him had been…true – he was guilty. He did not deserve this merciful verdict. It was nothing short of scandalous.
He dropped to his knees and began to weep. Closing his eyes, he felt the warm heat of the sun, basking in a light that seemed to grow brighter by the second.
A hand gently began to brush away his tears.
He looked up to see the face of the ruler, smiling in front of him with commanding, yet gentle eyes. They told him everything that he needed to know.
The ruler reached out and hugged him, whispering in his ear:
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Your faith in me has saved you. I once stood in your place…and payed your ransom.”
The ruler pulled away to look at him face-to-face once again, with all the warmth of a loving friend.
“It happened on a Friday.”
The one who first came to BE judged, will come again as THE judge. The one who was first declared by his people “guilty,” although innocent, will then declare his people “innocent,” although guilty.