Methodist Message is introducing a new series of articles focusing on the less prominent biblical characters. It is written by Kwa Kiem Kiok, a Local Preacher at Trinity Methodist Church who is now on sabbatical at Asbury Theological College in the United States. Her articles follow the text in Scripture, but she takes artistic licence to add details which are not pertinent. Each article is a monologue, written in the first person and in a chatty style. The aim is teaching, but with a light touch. – Editor.
“Voices from Scripture” is a work of fiction based on some references in Scripture to “minor” characters. As the Bible gives us few lines about these people, this series imagines what they would have been like, their personality, and what their thoughts could have been in the situations mentioned. It is hoped that as the different characters and situations come alive, the Bible also becomes more real, and we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and His Word.
The series begins with the character Alexander.
I WENT to my first crucifixion when I was eight years old. Well, I didn’t actually see the nailing itself, but I saw it from a distance.
Mother didn’t want us to get too close, though Father was there. He had to, since he was carrying the cross; no don’t misunderstand, Father wasn’t crucified. He had to carry the cross beam for someone else. We had all gone as a family to the Passover in Jerusalem, and we stayed with my Uncle Isaac as usual.
On Friday before the Passover, we went to the Temple, again as usual, but then got caught up with crowds jeering at some men condemned to be crucified. Mother knew that this only happened to the worst kind of traitors and murderers, so she didn’t want my brother Rufus and me to see. But in the crush we were separated – Father in the front and Mother, Ruf and me somewhere behind.
Father told us afterwards that he saw that the criminal was so bloodied he couldn’t even walk straight, let alone be strong enough to carry the cross beam. Then, a soldier who was standing in front of Father pushed him in the direction of the man and made Father carry the cross. Soldiers could do that. Father said that the criminal looked up and seemed grateful, though it was hard to see his face after what they’d done to him.
So, Father carried that heavy cross all the way outside the city. What struck Father was that this man was quiet, not like the other two criminals who shouted back and cursed the crowds. In fact at one point this man stopped in front of some women and said, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.”
Can you imagine a man about to be crucified more concerned for others? That made Father decide to hang around for a bit. But nothing happened. The man was crucified, he cried out and then he died.
After the Passover we all went back home to Cyrene. Everything was quiet until Uncle Isaac came over some months later and announced that the Messiah had come. We were flabbergasted! Uncle Isaac explained it to Father; and how the Messiah was to suffer but would rise again on the third day. All that, Uncle Isaac said, was true of the man Jesus who was crucified at the Passover.
He said that like the Passover lamb which we sacrifice each year and whose blood cleanses us, so this Jesus is the Passover lamb for everybody, and His the blood makes all of us righteous before God. They spent a lot of time going through Moses and the prophets and finally, Father was convinced that it was so. What’s more, he was pretty sure that he carried the Messiah’s cross beam that day.
Father felt that it made sense to live with others in the messianic community; so he sold his business, we all packed up, and here we are in Jerusalem! Father now helps Uncle Isaac’s business part of the time but spends the rest of his time with other believers studying Scripture and listening to the apostles’ teaching.
Mother loves having worship meetings at our house so that she can cook and fuss over everybody; and for Rufus and me, Jerusalem’s great because our cousins are here and it’s a cool place to be in. (Luke 23: 26 – 31, Mark 15: 21).
Kwa Kiem Kiok, a Local Preacher at Trinity Methodist Church and a contributor to Methodist Message, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological College in Wilmore, Kentucky, the United States.