Sunday 17 April 2022

The Third Man.

The Road To Emmaus: That same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. And as they talked and deliberated, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. Luke 24:13-16 (Painting by Chris Antenucci)

“DO YOU REMEMBER that man passing us?” Benjamin shielded his eyes against the bright sunlight, gazing intently at the three figures well ahead of them on the road.”

“Surely you mean men, brother? Those two have been ahead of us ever since we left Jerusalem.”

“No, no. Not them. I’m talking about the third man. You must see him, Isaac, the man in the middle? I don’t remember him overtaking us, but he must have. Didn’t you see him pass by?”

“Nobody has passed me all day, Benjamin. The road has been unusually quiet. No one behind us, and just those two up ahead. Although, now that I look, I see what you mean. There are definitely three of them, now. That is strange.”

“Jerusalem is awash with strange happenings these days. This last week in particular. Did you hear what happened at the Temple?”

“Who hasn’t, Benjamin? It was that Galilean preacher. They say he lost his temper completely. Threw over the tables of the money changers. When I first heard about it I wondered whether he might be one of us – a Zealot. From what people were saying he was angry enough.”

“One of us? No, no. The Galilean wasn’t a Zealot. Somebody tested him with a question about Rome’s latest tax. Do you know what he said?”

“I do, as a matter of fact. Ezra told me. He was standing right beside him. The Galilean said: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’”

“What was that supposed to mean, anyway? Render unto Caesar? No Zealot would say that. No true Jew counsels surrender to the Romans!”

“I’m not sure that he was counselling surrender, brother. There is something else in his answer, something that speaks between the words.”

“These vagabond preachers are all the same, Isaac. They speak in riddles. Words that can be taken to mean anything you want them to mean. Sometimes I think Israel consists of nothing but words. Would that we had as many swords – and men brave enough to use them!”

“Well, you cannot quibble with the Galilean’s courage, Benjamin. Crucifixion is a horrible death, and he bore it bravely.”

“You were there? You saw him die?”

“I was, and I did, brother. If our struggle for Israel requires us to suffer the same rebel’s death, then I hope we bear it as stoically.”

“Did he say anything before he died?”

“He did – and it amazed me. As they nailed him to their bitter tree and hauled him up against the sky, he said: ‘Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.’”

“Forgive them! Truly? That makes no sense. Why? And who did he mean by Father?”

“His followers whispered that he was the Son of God, Benjamin. Yes, God. Not a title the Romans were willing to accept – or the High Priest. Although the Galilean himself was, reportedly, content to be known as the Son of Man.”

“He sounds mad, Isaac. Just another preacher who has spent too long under the desert sun.”

“Speaking of the sun, Benjamin. The one we have been travelling under is about to set. Shall we follow the example of the trio up ahead and purchase some supper and a bed for the night? The inn at Emmaus is comfortable I hear, and travellers speak highly of its bread and wine.”

“I did not think the third man was going to join his companions. He seemed determined to continue his journey, but they prevailed upon him.”

“A wise choice, it will be night soon.”

Seated at one end of the long table that filled the dining room, the two brothers broke the still warm loaf of bread that had been placed before them, washing down each mouthful with the dark red contents of the wine-jug.

Benjamin leaned forward and whispered to Isaac.

“There is something going on at the end of the table, brother, between those three. See how they stare at the face of he who joined them on the road? Though how he got past us unseen I’ll never know.”

“It is passing strange, brother, but stranger still is the certainty that grows in me that I have seen the third man somewhere before.”

“Where, brother? Where did you see him?”

“Upon Golgotha.”

This short story was published in the Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star at Easter 2022.


Barry said...

The important detail about the new testamount is that the various parts were first written down at least 200 years after Christ died. Before that it was all recorded verbally and we all know how things change when recorded as stories.
What this means is that the details in the stories have to be taken with some salt.
For example its taken as true by almost every one that Christ was killed by the Romans. The details of his crucifixion are only possible or probable. For example he is usually shown on the cross with nails thru his hands. That is most unlikely as his hands would have ripped.
The important aspect of the stories is the message that the whole story gives us - not the details.
Where religion goes wrong is to concentrate on some minor detail. The worde assigned to Christ are almost certainly not exact and he certainly did not say them in the modern language format currently used.
He was accused , tried, and executed and then rose on the third day. Forget the details - as far as I know hes been the only one to do this and thats pretty amazing - one could say supernatural.

Scott said...

Can't agree with you about the dates for the New Testament. Most scholars agree the gospels were written in the first century. Some parts of the New Testament were found in Egypt around 125AD.
Thousands of copies of the New testament exist, much more than any other example of ancient literature.
So what we have are eyewitness accounts from apostles - Matthew and John. And the account from Mark who relies heavily on Peter as a primary source. And Luke who is the closest we have to a modern historian.
So the gospels stand alone as very well supported examples of ancient literature.

sumsuch said...

Convinced atheist as I am, I took relief from the idea of rebirth over Easter.

sumsuch said...

Now Anzac Weekend I remember my family who died, fought, suffered mental damage, won medals in two terrible wars. The last, the foundation of the common people's democracy. Ukraine reminds us of democracy when we had forgotten it. And the necessity to abolish war.

Anonymous said...

The earliest known identifiable fragment of the New Testament is of the John gospel, preserved in the John Ryland's Library of Manchester University. It has been dated between 100 & 125 AD, well within a century of the time of Jesus.